Exp. 5 - Optimizing solar panel production
In this experiment, EndeF would like to optimize the lamination process in the hybrid solar panel manufacture. In this procedure, the adhesive between the photovoltaic module and the heat recovery unit is melted and cured through a thermal process in an oven, achieving the union of both components. The oven configuration (temperature ramp, air mass flow and distribution) is critical in order to ensure a proper thermal treatment of the adhesive along the whole panel, to avoid hot spots or to reduce the energy consumption. The optimal configuration of the oven depends on external variables, such as the ambient temperature, the thermal properties of the adhesive and the geometry of the solar panel.
The aim is to minimize the energy consumption and power needed by the oven, as well as minimizing the time required per panel and the number of them with manufacturing defects. EndeF will reduce the process time and the energy consumption of the lamination process as well as increase its production capacity. Adapting and porting a fluid flow and heat transfer simulation software package (based on Computational Fluid Dynamic techniques, CFD) to the Cloud to simulate and optimize the solar panels manufacturing, is what we are trying to achieve with this experiment.
EndeF will reduce manufacturing time by 20% and save energy by 20% (short-term) and by 30% (medium-term) in the lamination process. They will be able to supply more solar panels to their customers in less time.
NablaDot will obtain technical expertise in the development of CFD tools in the Cloud for non-experts users. This will allow them to approach other companies that manufacture hybrid solar panes and new prospective customers in the glass and metallurgy industry.
Photovoltaics is a rapidly growing market, as shown by the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of photovoltaic plants, equal to 40% between 2010 and 2016. By implementing this new solution EndeF expects to increase panels production (10000 panel/years), in turnover (5 million euros) and in providing jobs (80 jobs); another positive impact will be low emissions per year (4.542 tCO2 emissions avoided/yearly).
The expected impact for Nabladot is to gain the experience that will allow it to approach potential customers related to the rolling sector, show them new skills, hoping that they will assume the development of an ad-hoc tool for their specific process. Having sufficient experience, a turnkey tool of this type could be offered by around € 50,000. New customers mean new revenue and significant market penetration. In terms of expected impact, NablaDot hypothesizes one project per year in the short/medium term and more projects per year in the long term. This extra revenue would help NablaDot to settle and widen its income sources, becoming less vulnerable to changes in core market (currently around 75% of income comes from simulation of coal power plants). In turn this would allow to hire more staff and expand to new markets.