The HIPERION project, funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, is working on the mass production of a new innovative high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) module based on an optical micro-tracking technology, which concentrates sunlight on multi-junction solar cells mounted on top of a conventional silicon plate. The resulting high-efficiency solar modules (>30% STC in direct sunlight) with a standard flat panel form factor can be mounted on any support or roof.
MUON ELECTRIC, a power trader company based in Porto, in collaboration with the HIPERION consortium partners INSOLIGHT and 3S Swiss Solar Solutions AG, is evaluating the HIPERION modules under Portuguese climatic and economic conditions. A strategy for development and demonstration through key pilot sites will help to economically accredit the project to potential investors, mature and correct manufacturing flaws.
To this end, MUON ELECTRIC installed the first project pilot in Portugal. This 15-panel ground installation (approximately 10 m²), deployed in October 2022, is supplying renewable electricity to a small farm in Vila do Conde, nearby Porto.
The innovative HIPERION modules have different characteristics that make the installation process unique. One of the major differences as opposed to traditional PV panels is the communication system. Indeed, HIPERION installation requires more cabling than in traditional installations, as the project requires a finer control and precision of the solar modules, especially in this testing phase. The data are monitored through a web application that allows individual control of the panel drivers, status, and production history. The web application has access to the information thanks to the gateway and router mounted at the pilot site. In addition, the application even enables a virtual representation of the pilot, which allows real-time issue identification.
The power system is characterized by two microinverters in each solar module. Moreover, every solar module has two power outputs for optimal direct and diffuse sunlight collection. This hybrid technology is due to tandem cells in each panel. In addition, a movable backplane (horizontal movements of a few millimeters per day) keeps the cells aligned with the light beams. Despite the movable backplane, the solar modules comply with standard mounts which make them compatible with existing mounting frames. This configuration allows for world-class efficiency and a very high energy yield.
The commercial site in Portugal is equipped with an energy storage system allowing for typical energy management operations like peak shifting and valley filling. Furthermore, the site is also capable of going off-grid having black start capability. The energy produced is used to power the farm’s watering system and the swimming pool pump. The excess energy is sold to the grid.
The HIPERION installation has already produced 100 kWh of energy and the project is on track to reach its demanding goals. MUON ELECTRIC and the consortium aim to bring this innovative technology to the market as soon as possible as it will play an important role in achieving European net-zero ambitions.
Figures: (Top): HIPERION pilot site in Portugal. (Bottom): The farm in Vila do Conde, nearby Porto, which is being supplied with renewable electricity by the first HIPERION pilot installation.