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Funding Opportunity: SuNLaMP
SunShot Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
Amount Awarded: $2,816,911

Higher temperatures of photovoltaic (PV) modules are causing lower than projected module performance. For example, a free-standing Si PV module has 0.4% decrease in efficiency per degree Celsius. Reducing the module temperature to near ambient levels will increase yearly energy output by 8%. This project will enable lower operating temperatures for modules, resulting in higher module power output and lower levelized cost of electricity (LCOE).

APPROACH

This project will develop a thermal model for PV modules and modify the passive cooling packaging to lower the module temperature when overheated by using a dessicant and/or tuning backsheet emissivity. The thermal model and related documentation will be posted online with tabulated performance and cost benefit of each advanced thermal management innovation investigated in this project.

INNOVATION

The potential to boost module performance using materials that reduce operating temperatures is largely unexplored and comprehensive thermal models for PV modules are not currently available. This project will establish and make available to the public a software tool that can be used to quantitatively assess the thermal and performance benefits of module design changes and demonstrate at least one technique that shows a probable path to LCOE reduction via lower module operating temperatures.