Soaring electricity prices have driven interest in solar panels among homeowners and business operators. Conventional PV modules are usually heavy and come in an unbendable, rectangular shape, thus limiting their application due to weight and design aesthetics.
To address these drawbacks, ENTEC-NSTDA introduced a new solar module called SunGuard PV. SunGuard PV is lightweight, bendable, and easy to install.
Dr. Noppadol Sittiphol, member of ENTEC Solar Photovoltaic Research Team explained the R&D process of this innovation. Attention was paid on selecting materials for the solar module structure. The top layer, usually made from glass, is replaced by polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which allows light to pass through like glass but without excessive weight. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) material is used in the backsheet instead of polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) due to its light weight and strength.
SunGuard PV is bendable, weatherproof, durable, easy to install and 50% lighter than conventional solar modules. In addition, both PET and ABS can be recycled once the module reaches its end of life. Because of the curvature, SunGuard PV is slightly less efficient than the conventional solar panel, around 8.5% less. However, the air temperature underneath is 3-5°C cooler than conventional solar panels.
SunGuard PV technology has been patented and licensed to a company. Tests are being conducted to ensure its compliance to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. The product is expected to be launched in 2023.
SunGuard PV is another example of research and innovation supporting a drive for clean energy under the Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) agenda.