In response to increasing demand for light-weight modules in Japan, BenQ Solar, the solar division of Taiwanese semiconductor device manufacturer AU Optronics, has developed a new 60-cell crystalline silicon PV module that it claims is the world’s lightest crystalline silicon module.
The new Aer PM060M01 mono-crystalline silicon module (datasheet here) is being introduced in the Japanese residential market. The 10.5 kg modules use the same materials that standard modules do (glass top sheets, aluminium frames and polymer backsheets) but weigh in 45% lighter than conventional modules.
Importantly, BenQ Solar claims that the modules can withstand advanced load testing conditions to meet standard reliability requirements. In line with the rest of BenQ’s solar product line, the modules are made from mono-crystalline silicon and are available in the 260-280 W module power range.
To deliver a truly light-weight solution, BenQ has teamed up with a French BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) company, IRTFS, to offer a light mounting system known as Easy Roof Evolution. According to BenQ, the mounting system weighs only 4.2 kg. As an addition to the company’s G-Racking Series of customised racking products, the mounting system is expected to lower installation cost and time.
The solution is also being marketed as earthquake-safe as it can even be installed on thin metal-sheet roofs, which minimizes the risk of collapsing or shattering if an earthquake strikes.
The decision to market the panels comes as no surprise for the vertically integrated company, which once had to suspend production of its polysilicon plant in Japan (2011) due to an earthquake.
Such lightweight modules are useful not only for earthquake-prone regions like Japan, but also for older and structurally weak roof structures that cannot bear the weight of conventional solar panels such as this case of a school in the US, where the proposed PV system had to be moved due do load bearing constraints on the roof.
With the rising demand for high performance, cost-efficient solutions for an increasingly large range of deployment sites and applications, light weight solar panels are certainly a welcome innovation.
Top Image Credit: BenQ
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