Chinese module suppliers continue to dominate the Australian PV market, with the exception of a handful of suppliers to “premium” rooftop solar customers. Germany’s AE Solar is looking to find a niche in Australia with both its European and Chinese-made modules – including its Supreme range that features an innovative cell-level feature.
AE Solar’s Supreme modules include a “micro” bypass diode between individual cells, which it says means the modules are resistant to shading and are hot-spot free (HSF). The module series was introduced to Europe in 2018 with the feature recognized by it becoming and Intersolar Award finalist and being named a Top Innovation by pv magazine Australia’s German sister publication.
The AE Solar HSF technology goes one step further than optimizer or microinverter technology, managing the energy production at the individual cell rather than string of cells. In flash testing, this can be demonstrated to result in an increase of power output of up to 55% – in the event that two cells, in two separate cell strings are shaded.
The effect is demonstrated by a 2018 AE Solar video – replete with a Euro-house soundtrack. In the video a 275 W module is flashed four times alongside one of AE Solar’s Supreme module. The flasher output shows that the cell-level micro diodes maintain power output, even as an increasing number of cells, in different cell strings, are completed shaded.
|1 cell shaded in 1 cell string||187W|
|3 cells shaded across 3 cell strings||85W|
|6 cells shaded across 6 cell strings||6W|
AE Solar Supreme module
|1 cell shaded in 1 cell string||270W|
|3 cells shaded across 3 cell strings||250W|
|6 cells shaded across 6 cell strings||221W|
Along with the additional power output when partial shading occurs, the micro bypass diodes also make the modules resistant to hotspot formation due to shading or heavy soiling. AE Solar says that cell temperatures will not exceed 85°C – preventing burnt cells and in extreme events fires.
While AE Solar has not yet accredited its Supreme modules with the CEC, it intends to do so and has gone through the process with 20 modules from its standard range.
AE Solar has a production capacity of over 1 GW, split between China and a new facility in Georgia. Some its EU module capacity is made with a European bill of materials, the Extreme series, to avoid tariffs in the U.S. market.
The company’s Shokhrukh Baratov says that the AE Solar is currently ramping up its new 10,000m² module facility in Georgia, and it evaluating a 6,000m² expansion.
“The factory is equipped with fully automated production lines and has an annual capacity of 500 MW,” said Baratov in a statement. “The factory adds to AE Solar’s 525 MW manufacturing facility in Hongze, China, which has been running since 2009, raising the company’s annual production capacity to more than 1 GW. Even that may not be enough to keep up with demand, as AE Solar is planning to enter solar project development.”
AE Solar was founded in 2003. It reports that its engineers oversee production at its two facilities and product testing. It is targeting module shipments to Australia of between 50-80 MW in 2020.
This article was updated on March 6 to clarify that the Extreme module series uses a European bill of materials and that its Georgian facility currently has a floorspace of 10,000m².