One of the manufacturing giants in the solar industry is Hanwha Q Cells, a company with a vast domain in the production of high-quality solar panels.
One of the most interesting Q Cells products on the market is the Q.Peak Duo-G5 module.
This product was the winner of the Intersolar Award 2018 in the Photovoltaics category, due to the innovative and high-quality value of the Q.ANTUM technology.
The benefits of this product exceed the company’s previous versions in standards, performance and especially design, but let’s take a look at some of the features of this amazing solar panel.
Hanwha is the only representative of the Q.ANTUM technology in the world, with high standards in R&D tests, efficiency (up to 19.9%!) and manufacturing capability.
This technology is based on the concept of the PERC cells (rear contacts in the cell that allow the reflection of photons, increasing energy output), but enhances the performance, optimises the production and redefines the structure of the modules, taking the PERC tech to a whole new level.
When photons hit the surface of the solar module, they release or activate the flow of electrons.
These electric charges must travel through a thick phosphorous layer in order to reach the busbars which act as highways for electrons. However, many electrons lack the kinetic energy to reach these busbars and therefore get lost. This effect is generally represented with a series resistance.
One unique feature of this solar panel is that instead of having 2 or 4 busbars (conductors through which electrons flow to the output of the module), this module is designed with six busbars.
The great advantage of increasing the number of busbars is that the distance between them is reduced, which leads to a lower series resistance and even reduces congestion of electrons through the busbars.
This translates into 3% more power output when compared to traditional technologies.
Another interesting and most curious characteristic of the Q.Peak Duo-G5 model is that the cells are sliced in half using laser technology.
By cutting cells into two halves, the current is also reduced to half. This reduces the heat generated in the cell and therefore reduces losses attributed to thermal factors (generally attributed to increased temperature and lack of air circulation).
Moreover, resistive losses are also reduced since current values are lower, therefore, production is increased by 3%.
Most solar panels come with 3 bypass diodes.
These devices allow the flow of current from other modules in the same string when there is a shading condition without any creation of hotspots.
When one bypass diode acts, a sub-module (a section of the panel) stops producing electricity, leaving only 2/3 of the panel generating electricity.
If the shaded area increases and covers the whole lower part of the module, then all bypass diodes act (even if the shade covers less than 30% of all the surface area) and the module stops producing until the shade is removed.
This is hugely undesirable since considerable losses are attributed to it.
The Q.Peak Duo-G5 model solves this situation by making a parallel connection between two sides of the module.
In other words, even if shade covers the lower part of the panel, the upper side will continue producing!
Most solar manufacturers guarantee that the performance of their modules won’t reduce any more than 80% of power output after 25 years of operation.
This is the conventional warranty in most technologies.
The Q.Peak Duo-G5 also innovates in this aspect, providing an 85% power output warranty after 25 years of operation.
This translates into a maximum of 0.54% degradation factor per year.
The shape of the conductors is another innovation. Typical solar cells use flat ribbons to transport electricity. This generates shading caused by the ribbons of the cell and reduces the number of absorbed photons.
In comparison, Q.Peak Duo-G5 cell modules are designed with round shaped busbars that drastically reduce shading over the silicon layer.
This maximises production and adds 2.5% more energy to each cell when compared to traditional technology.
Other factors also reduce the production and lifespan of the traditional solar module.
For instance, potential induced degradation (PID) is an undesirable element associated with the presence of leakage currents on high voltage strings with elevated humidity and temperature levels.
Q.Peak Duo-G5 tech ensures higher resistance to this effect and is even rated to withstand installations of 1500 VDC!
Moreover, LID also plays a role in the reduction of power output and Hanwha Q Cells is one of the few companies that have delved deeply into this effect and developed an Anti-LID technology.
But when debris the size of golf balls suddenly rattle down, the havoc caused is often costly and beyond repair as witnessed on Saturday in southeast Queensland when freak hailstorms pounded the area.
Testing solar panels for hail damage is mandatory under the Australian Standards and for a solar panel to pass the Moderate Hail Test, it must survive the force exerted by a 25mm ice ball fired at speeds of 23m/s on 11 different spots on the module.
To pass the Severe Hail Damage Resistance Test, a solar module must withstand a 75mm diameter hailstone exposed to similar testing conditions.
As a matter of fact, most manufacturers test their solar panels to ensure they are not susceptible to damage by hailstones and thunderstorms.
However, just like how car windscreens get damaged by mammoth hailstones, sometimes the same happens to solar panels.
According to a study commissioned by the Energy Department and carried out by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a sample survey of 50,000 solar photovoltaic systems installed in the United States between 2009 and 2013 showed that only 0.1% of the panels got damaged or became malfunction after a catastrophic Mother Nature event.
A 25mm hailstone is quite big and the 75mm one considered huge. But the hailstones that rained in various parts on Saturday were simply gigantic. Reports show that hail witnessed in Forestdale in Brisbane’s south measured up to 14cm.
The images and videos shared on social media by residents in the area are enough proof of solar panel carnages that occurred in various places:
This video provides a perfect display of the storm’s ferocity and how hail cut through a rooftop and into the insulation and ceiling.
The solar panels on the home’s roof couldn’t withstand this kind of nature’s onslaught and that’s no surprise at all, but it was more distressful for households that suffered hail damage.
Of course, roof tiles, solar panels, vehicles etc. can always be replaced but not lives—and the bit of good news is that there were no serious injuries or deaths reported.
Solar systems can still generate energy from panels up to the inverter even when the panels are damaged or power from the main grid gets disconnected following a severe storm activity.
Australiansolarquotes recommends that you:
Strictly follow the shutdown procedures provided if your home’s roof or system gets damaged or you doubt the integrity of the solar system.
Do not reconnect your solar PV system on your own or inspect your roof after a severe storm event or when your roof seems damaged.
Always contact a CEC certified installer to help recommission the PV system for you. Alternatively, you can contact a licensed electrical contractor to inspect the system and make sure it’s safe.
We further advice that during a flood event, don’t turn off your solar system when any of the components are submerged in water or the parts are wet—and stay away.
Solar panels are a valuable addition to your property and hence they should be covered under the home and contents insurance policy which hopefully also covers extreme weather events like hail storms.
It’s also prudent for solar power system owners to ask their insurers to increase the sum insured of the building.
On November 1, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) declared a catastrophe any damage caused by the hailstorm event. The ICA reports that by Sunday 2pm, insurance companies had received over 5,000 claims, with the total insured losses approximated at $60 million as at then.
“About 60 per cent of claims are for damage to motor vehicles, and 40 per cent for damage to houses – mainly to roofs, skylights and solar panels, and interior damage to a significant proportion of homes,” stated ICA.
The Council added that insurers were anticipating an influx of fresh claims for the next couple of days. It warned of infiltration by “disaster chasers” who were already hovering around. “They may offer cash repairs, or ask you to sign a contract and claim your insurer will pay for everything. Speak to your insurer before you authorise any work.”