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Fraunhofer ISE integrated solar plan

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Fraunhofer ISE Pushes For Integrated Solar Solutions at EU PVSEC

Fraunhofer ISE says solar panels could provide up to 500 GW of electricity in coming years. It calls for an integrated approach to expand solar in new and nontraditional locations.

If you are in Marseilles, France this week, stop at Booth F 5 and say hello to the representatives from Fraunhofer ISE. They are at the conference promoting the idea of integrating solar panels into buildings, cars, agriculture, bodies of water, and transportation corridors.

“In Germany, building-integrated solar technologies and agrophotovoltaics alone offer a combined technical potential of several hundred gigawatts of power,” Fraunhofer ISE says. “Integrated PV also creates synergies with other aspects, for instance by increasing the range of electric vehicles or improving noise protection on roads and railways. Generating solar power close to the consumer or directly onboard vehicles also reduces reliance on the power grid.”

Dr. Andreas Bett, Institute Director of Fraunhofer ISE, adds, “We see integrated photovoltaics as an opportunity for the German and European photovoltaics industry as well as for the trades, since it requires strongly individualized solutions and must be closely intertwined with upstream construction processes.” In its latest press release, Fraunhofer highlights five areas in which greater PV integration could take place.

Building-integrated photovoltaics

In building-integrated photovoltaics, construction elements not only generate power but also provide thermal insulation and protection from wind, noise and weather while adding new design options. As a result, BIPV makes a significant contribution to reducing building-related CO2 emissions. Fraunhofer ISE has developed flexible formats and high-efficiency solar cells with filigree metallization and color variations which offer aesthetic options for solar modules integrated into building façades or roofs.

At the EU PVSEC, Fraunhofer ISE will be exhibiting a number of MorphoColor® modules. Thanks to their special coating on the glass cover, these modules can be manufactured in any spectral color with high saturation and angular stability, and the relative efficiency value is lowered by only seven percent.


Agrophotovoltaics involves the installation of solar modules over arable land, enabling an expansion of PV power output while simultaneously using the land for agricultural purposes. As part of a research project near Lake Constance in Germany, Fraunhofer ISE was able to demonstrate a 60–84% increase in land-use efficiency as well as improved agricultural resilience during dry periods. Additional benefits include protection against damage caused by hail, drought and frost, a reduced need for irrigation and the option to use solar power directly on site.

Vehicle-integrated photovoltaics

In vehicle-integrated photovoltaics, solar modules replace parts of the vehicle shell and supply power to electrical components or feed energy into the drive batteries of electric vehicles, thereby increasing the distance they can drive on a single charge. Aesthetic standards and module efficiency are especially important factors when integrating solar modules into vehicles.

Fraunhofer ISE has developed a spherically curved solar car roof with high-efficiency solar cells that boast an output of about 210 W/m2. Overlapping connections in a shingle system allow for optimal use of the module area for generating power while maintaining a homogeneous and attractive overall appearance.

Lower resistance losses and the elimination of shading via cell connectors in conjunction with a particularly high shading tolerance improves absolute module efficiency by as much as two percent compared to conventional solar modules. Fraunhofer ISE is also exploring glass-free structures for lightweight construction applications in commercial vehicles.

Road-integrated PV

Road-integrated photovoltaics involves embedding solar modules in, on, and above transportation routes. Applications range from direct integration into streets, sidewalks and public squares to use in railroads and other traffic-related surfaces such as noise protection walls and shoulder lanes. Given that roughly 5% of Germany’s total surface area is covered by transportation routes, making use of already sealed horizontal surfaces opens up enormous technological potential.

Solar modules that are integrated into roadways must offer a sufficient degree of traction for all road users, regardless of the weather conditions, requiring the development of durable, structured module surfaces.

Floating PV

Floating PV systems, with modules mounted on buoyant bodies that float on standing water or the ocean’s surface, have experienced dynamic growth worldwide (over 1.1 GW of installed capacity as of mid-2018). Germany has a huge opportunity to capitalize on this technology in pit lakes, flooded gravel pits and, in some cases, reservoirs. The advantages offered by FPV lie in its inexpensive large-scale implementation, the increase in PV efficiency thanks to the water’s cooling effects and lower rates of evaporation which help to limit water loss.

500 Gigawatts Needed

As much as 500 gigawatts of installed PV power output could be needed by 2050, Fraunhofer says. To avoid land use conflicts and public resistance to such a massive expansion, it will be vital to minimize the space needed to meet that demand with solar panels mounted in unconventional locations. For more information, stop by the Fraunhofer booth in Marseilles this week and tell ’em CleanTechnica sent you!

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."


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