TNO, Eurotron, GroenLeven and SIEC teaming up in Whooper project

Globally, there is an urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar. Solar energy is already widely used and contributes highly to the reduction of CO2 emissions, but has great potential for further growth and innovation. Therefore TNO, Eurotron, GroenLeven and SIEC are teaming up in the Whooper project, with the goal of realizing a new solar module that generates more power and reduces costs of electricity compared to conventional modules.

This Whooper module is created by integrating the excellence of silicon heterojunction solar cells with the excellence of back-contact foil technology, into one new solar module ready for mass production.
The best of two technologies
The goal of the Whooper project is the industrial scale demonstration of the innovation. Heterojunction solar cells have already demonstrated record efficiencies. Back-contact foil technology is the most efficient and elegant solution for interconnection, especially suited for the needs of heterojunction solar cells. Because most of the contacts are placed on the rear, the front of the innovative solar module is esthetically much more appealing.

Innovative Whooper modules combine power increase and reduction of electricity costs
“Combining these technologies leads to a breakthrough mass manufacturable solar energy technology, resulting in an integrated cell and module architecture with proven reliability and proven industrialization,” says Gianluca Coletti, coordinator of the project. In addition, it strongly reduces the silver consumption of silicon heterojunction solar cells and the cell-to-module power loss. Overall, it will lead to about 4% power increase and up to 3% reduction in levelized cost of electricity when moving from conventional silicon heterojunction to Whooper modules.

Partners in the Whooper project
In the project TNO will carry out the final optimization and design of the Whooper cell technology and together with cell producers demonstrates the full manufacturing of solar cells in an industrial pilot line. Besides TNO will design and manufacture mini-modules, and will perform tests to demonstrate their reliability. And will design and analyse the performance of the solar test field to be installed with Whooper modules.

As a global leader in equipment for manufacturing of back-contact solar modules, Eurotron will contribute to develop the full-size module stack from backsheet to glass and safeguard compatibility with Eurotron’s existing industrial module manufacturing line. Besides, the company will further develop the currently available stencil print technology, investigate the optimal distribution of the paste dots across the surface and increase speed and output of solar modules up to 90 solar modules per hour. And they will manufacture test modules in Eurolab, Eurotron’s laboratory that facilitates pre-production of back-contact solar modules and R&D projects.

GroenLeven facilitates the project by installing and operating the monitoring field with Whooper solar panels. GroenLeven will also monitor and compare the Whooper panels with standard solar panels.

The role of SIEC in the project consists of providing a representative environment with the SIEC fieldlab located within the Oranjepoort solar park in the municipality of Emmen. The Whooper modules will be placed and monitored in detail there, and will be compared to standard solar panels. SIEC will also place special support structures that resemble placement of the panels on rooftops. This provides a safe and controlled environment to do testing and they will host knowledge dissemination meetings on site.

The technology development period leading to the manufacturing readiness of the technology is less than 12 months. In parallel, proven reliability at industrial scale and outdoor monitoring will run for one and three years, respectively.

The Whooper project is being carried out with a Topsector Energy subsidy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, implemented by Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).