Photovoltaics Manufacturing and Troubleshooting

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You've seen the headlines: "Global Energy Demand Expected to Soar by 2030." "Escalating Oil Prices Threaten Economic Recovery." According to the US Department of Energy, the demand for energy in the United States alone will swell by 32% by the year 2020, and the Energy Information Administration projects a 44% increase in world oil consumption by 2030. Solar power -- the clean, renewable energy source of the future -- is becoming more and more crucial to our economic and environmental welfare.

Photovoltaics manufacturing is ramping up around the world to meet these new demands. Photovoltaic (PV) systems have a number of unique requirements. They must be able to withstand the elements (rain, hail, dust, ultraviolet exposure) and last for many years with minimal degradation. More importantly, this technology must be cost-effective in order to gain widespread adoption. This requires a well thought out balance between materials and manufacturing. Many problems can arise in both manufacturing and field use, so engineers must be able to characterize, isolate, and resolve problems quickly. This skill set is not widely available, and it can be daunting for the engineer to learn these skills on his/her own. Semitracks' one-day Photovoltaics Manufacturing and Troubleshooting course delves into manufacturing and troubleshooting issues, providing the engineer what they need to know in order to be successful.

What Will I Learn By Taking This Class?

The course covers photovoltaics manufacturing processes and troubleshooting through six major topic areas:

  1. The Types of PV Modules. Participants and overview of the most common photovoltaics technologies currently in manufacturing.
  2. PV Manufacturing. Participants will learn in detail how photovoltaic systems are manufactured, both at the cell level and at the module level.
  3. Module Properties. Participants learn about silicon and thin-film cells and their use at the module level. They will also learn about efficiencies and how the manufacturing process affects a solar cell. This will help explain the efficiency and losses that occur.
  4. PV Operating Characteristics. Participants learn about the types of installations, standard test conditions, I-V load conditions, and the effects of temperature, sun angle, clouds, etc.
  5. Failure Mechanisms. Participants will learn about the various degradation and failure mechanisms associated with thin film technologies, as well as packaging-related problems that can occur during manufacturing.
  6. Methods to Ensure Reliability. Participants learn about industry design standards, including those from the IEC and UL, certification testing, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), audits to ensure high quality, and systems for corrective action.

The courses are necessary for every manager, engineer, and technician entering the photovoltaic field, whether they are working directly for a photovoltaic manufacturer or system integrator or selling to PV manufacturers.

Course Objectives

  1. The seminar will provide participants with an overview of photovoltaic technologies and manufacturing methods.
  2. The participant will be able to understand the manufacturing steps involved with PV systems.
  3. The seminar will identify the major issues associated with manufacturing and troubleshooting.
  4. The seminar will also identify how PV modules work based on materials, angle, cloud cover, etc.
  5. The participant will be able to make informed decisions regarding a particular solar cell technology and manufacturing processes.
  6. The participant will be able to effectively troubleshoot cell and module technologies.
  7. The participant will be able to understand the failure mechanisms that affect cell and module technologies.

Course Outline

  1. Types of photovoltaic modules
    1. Multi-Crystalline Silicon
    2. Mono-Crystalline Silicon
    3. Thin Film : Amorphous Silicon, CdTe and CIGS
      1. Main differences and benefits of each type
      2. Market share of each type
  2. Overview of manufacturing steps for crystalline silicon modules
    1. Cell manufacturing
      1. Basic semiconductor physics
      2. Solar cell processing steps
      3. Texturing
      4. Diffusion
      5. Anti-Reflective Coating
      6. Metallization
      7. Tabbing and Stringing
    2. Module manufacturing
      1. Layup process, including overview of laminate materials
      2. Cell binning
      3. Cell electrical layout
      4. Lamination
      5. Framing
      6. Junction box application
  3. How PV modules work
    1. Types of installations
    2. I-V curve characteristics
    3. Standard Test Conditions (STC)
    4. Effects of irradiance
    5. Effects of temperature
    6. Effects of panel tilt
  4. Potential reliability problems in the field and associated root cause problems in manufacturing
    1. Electrical connection problems including screw terminal and soldering failures
    2. Bypass diode failures
    3. Cell cracking
    4. Mechanical damage such as frame and glass failure
    5. Loss of encapsulation
  5. Methods to ensure module reliability
    1. Industry design standards: IEC and UL requirements
    2. Testing
      1. Industry certification testing: IEC and UL standards
      2. Testing to failure
      3. Field testing
    3. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
    4. Supplier quality control
    5. Internal factory audits
    6. Internal system for handling claims and making corrections

Instructional Strategy

Our courses are dynamic. We use a combination of instruction by lecture, problem solving, and question/answer sessions to give you the tools you need to excel in the photovoltaics industry. From the very first moments of the seminar until the last sentence of the training, the driving instructional factor is application. The course notes offer hundreds of pages of reference material that the participants can apply during their daily activities.

Our instructors are internationally recognized experts. Our instructors have years of current and relevant experience in their fields. They're focused on answering your questions and teaching you what you need to know.

Instructor Profile

Christine Bordonaro, Ph.D.

Christine Bordonaro is a veteran of the Photovoltaics Industry. She is experienced in all aspects of photovoltaic module development including product specifications, product design, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and National Electrical Code (NEC) standards, system design, manufacturing, troubleshooting and performance. Her experience includes work on PV cells, inverters, junction boxes, frames, and laminate materials for PV systems. She has worked for Satcon Technology Corporation, Evergreen Solar, and Metso Automation. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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