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Light and durable: Composite structures for building-integrated photovoltaic modules

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Martins Ana C., Chapuis Valentin, Sculati-Meillaud Fanny, Virtuani Alessandro, Ballif Christophe,
Project ACTIVE INTERFACES - Holistic strategy for PV adapted solutions embracing the key technological issues
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Volume (Issue) 26(9)
Page(s) 718 - 729
Title of proceedings Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
DOI 10.1002/pip.v26.9


In several countries, building‐integrated photovoltaics solutions could prospectively contribute to the growth of total installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity as they enable electricity production with minimal impact on free land. However, in some circum-stances, the relatively high weight (≥15 kg/m 2 ) of existing glass/glass building‐inte-grated photovoltaics modules may constitute a barrier to the diffusion of PV in the built environment. With the aim of limiting the weight while preserving excellent mechanical stability and durability properties, we propose a new design for lightweight crystalline‐silicon (c‐Si) PV modules in which the conventional polymer backsheet (or glass) is replaced by a composite sandwich structure, and the frontsheet by a transpar-ent polymer foil. Since sandwich structures are generally realized using epoxy as a glu-ing material, requiring long processing times, we further investigate (1) the possibility of using standard polymers used in the solar industry as alternative adhesives in the sandwich and (2) the possibility to considerably simplify manufacturing, using conventional lamination processes. Mini‐modules are produced, characterized, and submitted to accelerated aging tests (thermal cycling and damp‐heat) to assess the sta-bility of the product against environmental degradation. We show that, by using the reference epoxy adhesive, it is possible to manufacture a lightweight (~5 kg/m 2) mini‐module in a 2‐step process, which successfully passes a selection of industry qualification tests, including thermal cycling, damp‐heat, and hail test. We further show that, by replacing epoxy by a PV adhesive, we are able to considerably simplify the manufacturing process, while preserving excellent mechanical and durability properties. KEYWORDS