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New Module Materials (PP4.4)

PP4.4: New Module Materials

This stream will explore the potential of new materials especially designed for Australian conditions and a future where border taxes are employed to reduce global emissions. It is anticipated that this stream will include several different activities that aim to address particular technological challenges. Some of these activities are described below, however new activities are also anticipated during the duration of ACAP. 

PP4.4.1 Module Cooling

This stream will extend the research being performed in the Module Cooling project which targets extended module lifespan by reducing operating temperatures, through a combination of reducing unproductive infrared light absorption and increasing module heat dissipation by radiation, convection and conduction.


For crystalline silicon-based devices, solar photons absorbed above the band gap convert their energy to both electricity and excess heat generation, while all photons absorbed below the bandgap contribute to heating only. There is great potential in exploring multi-layer anti-reflection (AR) coatings that can reduce the operating temperatures of modules in the field by selectively radiating spectral components not able to be absorbed by the solar cells. Increasing emissivity of module glass and backsheet is also critical for reducing module operating temperature. 


Opportunities will be explored to integrate these AR coatings and thermally emissive backsheet materials with macroscopic glass texturing for reduced cost.

Module frame and array design also has bearing on the operating temperature and provides a particular opportunity for careful design in partnership with solar array developers. 

Investigators: Martin Green, Ned Ekins-Daukes, Jessica Yajie Jiang

PP4.4.2 Low Embodied Energy Module Materials

This stream will also explore the possibility of using module materials which have a low embodied energy.  If we consider aluminium as an example, modules currently require ~ 0.5 kg/m of aluminium (~ 1.2 kg/m2) creating a demand of over 5.5 kt of aluminium per GW of PV. The primary production of aluminium is energy intensive. This results in PV modules with a high embodied energy which will attract significant carbon border taxes.


Australia has an opportunity to power all of its four existing aluminium smelters by low emissions factor renewable energy, thereby reducing its average emissions intensity from 12.2 t CO2e / t aluminium in 2020 to < 5 t CO2e / t aluminium and permitting locally produced aluminium to be competitive for local module manufacturing (in the presence of carbon border taxes).


This activity will be conducted in collaboration with PP5, with modules using materials with low embodied energy subjected to reliability and durability testing in both lab and under field conditions. Of particular interest, will be locally produced aluminium and glass as both of these materials are energy intensive to manufacture.

Investigator: Brett Hallam

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