Solar Modules with Gass-Enameled Steel Backs
13 Aug 2020 by TIM SYLVIA
Toledo Solar, the first thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar panel manufacturer in the United States, has been given a $200,000 federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) for R&D on lighter solar panels.
Specifically, the company will develop modules with glass-enameled steel backs, rather than using a glass sheet to encapsulate the panel. Toledo Solar already had plans in the works to research glass-enameled, steel-backed modules, but the SBIR grant just expedited the process.
The research is also not being done to determine whether glass-enameled, steel-backed module technology is a possibility – more so to test that technology against traditional modules to see how they compare in energy production and degradation/failure rates when exposed to the elements.
The idea is that glass-enameled, steel-backed modules are lighter than their traditional counterparts, making them easier to install. But the steel backing also opens up different racking possibilities, beyond individual mounting clips. Durability, however, is the main concern of these potential modules, as steel has different heat-expansion properties than glass and may also have difficulty standing up to more extreme weather conditions, including prolonged snow coverage.