After five years of research, development and testing, Maxeon Solar Technologies, is ready to commercialize its new Maxeon Air technology platform — a frameless, thin, lightweight and conformable solar panel that can be adhered directly to the roof without the need for racking or other mounting systems. Various attempts at this concept have been tried over the years, but none with the backing of a company like Maxeon and at the level of efficiency being touted here. Maxeon Air panels will be featured in selected projects in Europe in the second half of 2021. General product availability is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
The first product introduction using the technology will target installation on roofs that are not engineered to support the weight of conventional solar systems. In Europe alone, the company estimates that there is an unserved annual market for low-load roofs of over 4 GW.
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“For close to fifty years, the solar power industry has almost exclusively utilized glass superstrate panel construction,” said Jeff Waters, CEO of Maxeon Solar Technologies. “As solar panels have increased in size, and the cost of solar cells has been dramatically reduced, the cost of transporting, installing and mounting large glass panels has become a relatively larger portion of total system cost. With Maxeon Air technology, we can now develop products that reduce these costs while opening up completely new market opportunities such as low-load commercial rooftops.”
Maxeon Air solar panels incorporate several innovative features:
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No metal frame and no heavy glass are used in the panel, and the adhesive mounting system further reduces weight, as no racking is needed. The resulting installed weight of around 6 kg/m² is less than half of conventional systems and greatly reduces the rooftop load.
The factory integrated adhesive layer enables the installation of the solar panel directly on the roof surface, without racking, anchors or ballast. This reduces installation time and minimizes business disruption during installation. Maxeon Air solar panels are optimally sized to standard rooftop membrane width.
Maxeon IBC solar cells incorporate a solid metal foundation and stress relieved cell interconnects, which the company says protects against corrosion and enables fault tolerant circuits that allow energy flow even with cracked cells. Maxeon IBC solar cells also have the unique ability to share current in reverse bias voltage while shaded, avoiding damaging or dangerous high temperatures. This feature is particularly important when panels are adhered directly to the rooftop. Maxeon IBC solar cells have an efficiency of 20.9% combined with a low power temperature coefficient, shade tolerance and wide spectral response.
“In addition to enabling new markets such as low-load commercial rooftops, we believe that our new Maxeon Air technology platform has the potential to bring transformative change to other solar power applications over time,” Waters continued. “Specifically, we believe that the use of this thin, lightweight conformable package technology could also enable breakthrough products for residential rooftops, floating PV systems, and e-mobility.”