In GOPV, 5 leading European industrial companies (Enel Green Power, 3Sun, Mondragon Assembly, Convert Italia, GXC Coatings) and 5 internationally recognized R&D institutes (CEA, Tecnalia, Leitat, RSE, EPFL) are merging their forces to develop an innovative PV system that will enable to reach a cost of electricity as low as 0,02 €/kWh (in southern Europe with reference irradiation level of 1900 kWh/m²/year). The four-year project, starting the 1st of April 2018, is divided in two phases. The first 3 years are devoted to technological developments of advanced PV components, bifacial PV module, 1-axis tracker, string inverter, and PV plant maintenance tool while the last year is focused on the integration of the technologies and large-scale demonstration in an operational PV plant in Spain.
2. PROJECT SCOPE
GOPV aims to develop a PV system allowing a significant reduction of the Levelized Cost Of Energy, by 50% vs present reference systems, with a targeted value as low as 0.02 €/kWh for large PV plants in southern Europe (reference irradiation level: GHI = 1900 kWh/m²/year). To achieve this objective, developments in GOPV address in a combined approach high energy efficiency, long lifetime and low cost of ownership at the levels of individual PV components (PV modules, trackers, inverters) and overall system.
High energy efficiency will be mainly achieved by combining bifacial modules of the highly efficient heterojunction cell technology, optimized 1 axis trackers and string inverters. The objective is to reach a DC production of 2430 kWh/kW/year at string level (module and tracker) and an AC production of 2360 kWh/kW at system level.
35 years’ service lifetime for the PV system is targeted thanks to smart approaches on architecture and material selection at the level of individual components, and overall system reliability. The extended service lifetime will have direct incidence on lowering the electricity cost down to 0.02 €/kWh.
The reduction of the cost of ownership will result from a combined approach to reduce the cost of individual PV system components to reach a CAPEX as low as 0.38 €/W – equivalent to 0.50 €/W with EPC engineering, procurements & construction – and the cost of the system operation (OPEX) down to 0.01 €/W/year.
GOPV technologies will be developed in order to optimize their interaction to construct a PV system that will be able to reach the targeted LCOE of 0,02 €/kWh. This will be demonstrated by a 500 kW demonstrator installed and operated for one year in south Spain. This demonstrator will host four PV sectors of 125 kW each with increasing levels of integration of GOPV technologies up to a system integrating bifacial modules, 1-axis trackers, string inverters and the advanced predictive maintenance tool in an optimized system configuration
3. PROJECT TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION & IMPLEMENTATION
Technological developments are focused on the performance enhancement of individual PV components, their cost reduction and their extended lifetimes. Besides an advanced predictive maintenance tool adapted to these PV components and overall system configuration is developed to decrease the operational expenditure of the PV plant.
At PV module level, the technological pillar is the highly efficient crystalline silicon heterojunction bifacial technology. On this basis, GOPV is developing a soft multi-busbars interconnection technology using electro-conductive adhesives, which allows reduction of the mechanical stress in the cells, savings in conductive materials (silver paste and copper ribbons), reduction of optical and electrical losses, and last but not least the perfect match to the use of thin silicon cells. Besides, a long-life dual anti-reflective – anti-soiling coating is developed to further improve the light harvesting capability of the modules over the 35 years module lifetime. Altogether these developments will lead to a 72 cells HET bifacial module with nominal efficiency of 400 W and production cost down to 0.22 €/W.
A new 1-axis tracker whose geometry is perfectly adapted to bifacial modules, to improve light harvesting by the rear side, is being developed. Lower cost materials compared to standard hot dip galvanized steel, and corrosion insensitive glass reinforced polymers are targeted as building materials in order to optimize the trade-off between cost and durability. This will lead to a tracker optimized for bifacial modules enabling to reach 2430 kWh (DC)/kW of yearly producible at string level for a tracker cost of 0.11€/W.
An innovative string inverter of 125 kVA nominal power with a current source topology working at higher DC/AC voltages (up to 1200V DC/900 V AC) is being developed by GOPV. This topology allows also the reduction of the number of power switches and the replacement of the electrolytic capacitors by more robust inductances, which will lead to more robust device with a targeted lifetime of 20 years, a cost of 0,05€/W and energy efficiency up to 99%.
A predictive maintenance tool is being developed in GOPV to lower the operational cost at the PV plant level down to 0.01 €/W/year. It is based on the early diagnosis of failures and degraded mode of operation of the PV system components, and includes machine-learning models to determine a fault condition before it occurs. This Fault Detection and Diagnosis tool aims to reach energy availability as high as 99.5%.
The first phase of GOPV, of a duration of 36 months, is focusing on the development, test and validation of the above technologies, which will be concluded by the installation of a 500 kW demonstrator inside an operational PV plant in south Spain. The objective of this pilot plant is the integration of all GOPV technologies in a relevant environment to demonstrate the targeted cost of electricity of 0,02€/kWh.
4. RESULTS ACHIEVED
GOPV aims to reduce the cost of PV electricity by 50% compared to present reference scenario to reach a LCOE as low as 0,02 €/kWh for large PV plants in south Europe. To achieve such a challenging objective, technological developments in single PV components (module, tracker and inverter), in PV plant Operation and Maintenance will be combined with the objectives of significant gains in energy efficiency, lifetime, system cost and operational cost show below (figure. 1).
Figure 1: Estimation of the relative contributions of the GOPV
objectives to the achievement of an electricity cost of 0.02 €/kWh
GOPV is developing technologies at the single PV component level, modules, tracker and inverter, with improved efficiency, lower cost and increased lifetime as well as an advanced PV plant operation and maintenance tool. Altogether, this will contribute to lower the levelized cost of electricity by 50% at the 2022 horizon with a targeted value as low as 0,02 €/kWh in south Europe. Other significant outputs of GOPV concern:
Replicability: GOPV achievements will have a significant impact in developing PV components ahead of technological and economical international roadmaps. With TRL7 targeted for all developed technologies, this will give strong opportunity to GOPV European industrial partners to develop new highly competitive products and to reinforce their position on the global PV market.
Socio-economics: With a targeted reduction of the cost of PV electricity up to 50%, GOPV is giving a significant push towards the increased competitiveness of this energy source for a larger part in the future European and world energy mix. Moreover, GOPV will help European industrial partners to take strong positions in the global PV market by developing PV components at the best techno-economic level as foreseen by international roadmaps. This positioning of the European PV industry is key to maintain a high degree of competitiveness required to maintain Europe active in this field.
Environment: The lean manufacturing of PV components, their extended lifetime targeted by GOPV is key to reduce the cost of PV electricity, and will contribute significantly to reduce its environmental impact with less quantity of material used by kWh produced and less material to recycle.
Market transformation: GOPV aims to give prominent technological and economical positions to European industrial players, that are facing strong difficulties to exist in the worldwide competition leaded by Asiatic players, by developing efficient and cost effective technologies that can be deployed on the fast growing world PV market.