Optimizing Solar Panel Production @EndeF

Description

Challenge

EndeF needs to optimize the lamination process of the hybrid solar panel manufacturer. In the lamitacion process, the adhesive between the photovoltaic module and the heat recovery unit is melted and cured through a thermal process in an oven, achieving the union of both components. The oven configuration (temperature ramp, air mass flow, and distribution) is critical in order to ensure proper thermal treatment of the adhesive along the whole panel, to avoid hot spots or to reduce the energy consumption. The optimal configuration of the oven depends on external variables, such as the ambient temperature, the thermal properties of the adhesive and the geometry of the solar panel. This is a challenging simulation consumes large computational resources. The aim is to minimize the energy consumption and power needed by the oven, as well as minimizing the time required per panel and the number of them with manufacturing defects.

Solution

A fluid flow and heat transfer simulation software package (based on Computational Fluid Dynamic techniques, CFD) is adapted and ported to the Cloud to simulate and optimize the solar panels manufacturing. The model in the cloud is capable of predicting the performance of the oven to laminate a PVT system. The results of implementing the computational model as a cloud service in the production process of EndeF is a decrease by 8% of the energy consumption in the panel manufacturer, an increase of the manufacturing capacity per day, a decrease of the number of tests to set up the oven for a new panel, a reduction of the time and costs required to give an answer to the client.

The reduction of the manufacturing costs allows EndeF to have a more competitive panel, expecting an increase in the sales by 10% thanks to the new production process.

Implementation time: 12 months

Implementation cost: N/A.

Output

EndeF can reduce manufacturing time by 20% and save energy by 20% (short-term) and by 30% (medium-term) in the lamination process. This allows to supply more solar panels to their customers in less time.

NablaDot obtained technical expertise in the development of CFD tools in the Cloud for non-expert users. This allows them to approach other companies that manufacture hybrid solar panels and new prospective customers in the glass and metallurgy industry.

Impact

Photovoltaics is a rapidly growing market, as shown by the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of photovoltaic plants, equal to 40% between 2010 and 2016. By implementing this new solution EndeF expects to increase panels production (10000 panels/years), in turnover (5 million euros) and in providing jobs (80 jobs); another positive impact will be low emissions per year (4.542 tCO2 emissions avoided/yearly). The expected impact for Nabladot is to gain the experience that will allow it to approach potential customers related to the rolling sector, show them new skills, hoping that they will assume the development of an ad-hoc tool for their specific process. Having sufficient experience, a turnkey tool of this type could be offered by around € 50,000. New customers mean new revenue and significant market penetration. In terms of expected impact, NablaDot hypothesizes one project per year in the short/medium term and more projects per year in the long term. This extra revenue would help NablaDot to settle and widen its income sources, becoming less vulnerable to changes in the core market (currently around 75% of income comes from the simulation of coal power plants). In turn, this would allow to hire more staff and expand to new markets.

This experiment has been supported in wave 1 of CloudiFacturing project. (See this experiment in project's site)

Project:
CloudiFacturing

Enterprises:
EndeF (End user); Scale Tools (System Integrator); NablaDot & IT4Innovation (Tech Providers); Cloudsigma & Innsomnia (RTOs) ‘

Sector
Energy

Keywords