First Solar PV modules achieve a 4% energy gain

As part of a continuing quest to boost solar efficiency, SolarKapital decided to run a commercial project using the Covestro Retrofit Anti-Reflective (AR) coating at its solar plant in Türkenfeld, Bavaria, Germany. The result: a 4% extra energy gain in PV modules manufactured by First Solar.

A hands-on approach

SolarKapital is an owner-managed financial services provider that invests its equity and knowhow along the entire solar value chain – including the acquisition of its own solar projects as an Independent Power Producer (IPP).

For a multi-faceted solar player like SolarKapital, the importance of strong and sustainable growth is paramount. The company employs a hands-on approach and is constantly searching for creative ways to maximize the value of its assets: enter the Covestro Retrofit AR coating.

Evaluating the technology

Launched in 2019, the Retrofit AR coating has already gained significant market traction because of its ability to achieve a power gain of 2-3% in older PV modules. The coating is applied directly onto the modules in the field and has been successfully evaluated by several Covestro partners, including WiseEnergy.

SolarKapital therefore decided to conduct a commercial application of this technology at its facility in Türkenfeld (one of twelve PV plants that the company owns and operates across Germany).

A specialist Covestro team visited the site in September 2019 and applied the coating directly onto modules from leading industry player First Solar – taking care to adhere to its comprehensive guidelines governing third-party application.

The output was then constantly measured since day 1 after the coating application and is ongoing. 

Improving performance of older PV modules

The results were beyond expectations. The First Solar PV modules achieved a sustained extra energy gain of more than 4% (compared to extra power gain of between 2-3% across other different European PV plants in previous industrial scale coating projects).

In particular, they were shown to react very well with the uncoated Cadmium Telluride thin film PV modules from First Solar.

Said SolarKapital Managing Director, Dr. Andreas Leimbach: “We knew about this technology and were excited about its potential for our business and investors. Of course, we needed to see for ourselves whether it delivered on that promise – and I’m delighted to say that the resultant energy gains speak for themselves.”

However, according to Dr. Leimbach, the value delivered by Covestro went beyond pure power gain. “A major goal of this project was to evaluate the wider implications of implementing a retrofit. How quickly and professionally could the Covestro team apply the coating? Also, how could they support us in better evaluating and understanding the monitoring data? In both cases they were able to deliver. Furthermore, another important aspect to consider were the environmental implications of the coating supplies and processes. Covestro also covered this topic to the satisfaction of its client.”

SolarKapital is now considering extending the program in their PV assets – thus continuing its commitment to meeting the needs of investors, society and the environment alike. 

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