PPG to automate PV module manufacturing

PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business has received a US$2.1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help design and pilot an automatic photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process.

It hopes to create a process that uses automation to eliminate time and labour from the assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators.

PPG will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately US$4.3 million in the project.

Andy Meshanko, PPG market development manager, industrial coatings, said, “With the proposed manufacturing approach, we expect to increase module throughput by a factor of four at half the capital expense of the existing process. With these cost savings and more efficient module designs, we can advance the goal of achieving grid parity for solar power.”

PPG is partnering with Flextronics International, a global solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ California facility that will produce 60- and 72-cell modules.

The SunShot Initiative, which is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), seeks to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade.

The PPG award is part of a $13 million investment in five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed commercialisation of efficient, affordable PV and concentrating solar power technologies.

Source: PPG Industries/