A total of 138,000 photovoltaic modules of amorphous hydrogenated silicon were employed in its construction. They were manufactured in T-Solar’s factory using state-of-the-art technology, with a fully automated and integrated production line that can handle glass sheets of up to 2.2 by 2.6 metres, at all stages of the process. This makes it possible to manufacture large-area photovoltaic modules (5.7 m2).
The flexibility of this production system means that T-Solar can now manufacture two models of photovoltaic solar panels: the TS410 module, whose large surface area of 5.7 m2 (2.2 metres by 2.6 metres) gives it a unit capacity of 410 Wp; and the TS95 modules, equivalent to a quarter of the size of the TS350, measuring 1.1 metres by 1.3 metres (1.43 m2) and an output of 95 Wp.
The T-Solar factory in Orense. employs over 190 technical staff, including engineers, technology experts and operators. It has an output capacity of 45 MW a year, equivalent to 700,000 m2 of photovoltaic panels. Once installed and in operation, these modules provide sufficient electricity to supply the average annual consumption of 17,000 households and avoid the emission of 50,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Italy, France, United States and India are T-Solar’s target countries
The company currently has a pipeline of 644 MWp in the countries it considers strategic for its short- and medium-term development. It is planning to multiply its current installed capacity fourfold, bringing it up to 573 MWp in 2012.
Apart from the PV plants it operates in Spain, T-Solar is planning to intensify its growth in countries that are encouraging the development of photovoltaic solar power, such as Italy, France, United States and India.
Peru has recently been added to this list. T-Solar was one of the winners of the Peruvian government’s first tender to supply electricity using renewable energy sources. Before June 2012, T-Solar will be commissioning 4 photovoltaic plants in Peru, each with a capacity of 20 MW. Two of these will be set up in consortium with another Spanish company in this industry. They will be supplying 173 GWh of electricity to be bought by the Peruvian government each year.
Outside its priority markets, the company is prospecting for new business opportunities. In 2009, T-Solar has carried out feasibility studies for photovoltaic projects in various countries in Latin America, northern Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
The first demonstration facilities on roofs and parking canopy
Since it first started operating, T-Solar has invested heavily in R&D in order to turn what have tended to be passive zones in buildings, such as façades and roofs or the parking canopy, into areas that can be used to generate electricity using photovoltaic technology.
The investment is bearing fruit. There are now demonstration facilities on fifteen buildings of the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid and the parking canopy area at the Cantoblanco campus, and on the roof and the parking canopy at the T-Solar factory in Orense.
These two sets of facilities are made with thin-film amorphous hydrogenated silicon modules manufactured by T-Solar at its Orense factory. They cover a surface area of 17,700 m2 and their installed capacity is 1.15 MWp. A total of 10,080 photovoltaic modules were used to construct both sets of facilities.
Photovoltaic applications for façades
Solar PV power is one of the most suitable renewable energy sources for use in urban environments. This is why T-Solar’s R&D department has developed a photovoltaic glass especially designed for easy incorporation into the façades of buildings or onto flat roofs. This is an innovative product that can play the same role as traditional materials traditionally used in construction. However, apart from being able to be useful in water and heat control, sound-, light- and heat-proofing, controlling condensation, etc, it also has the capacity to generate electricity, helping to comply with the requirements of the technical building code.
This photovoltaic glass can be produced with a surface area of 1.42 m2 and 11.5 mm thick, so that it can be installed in light auxiliary metal brackets on façades, totally hidden to create a continuous, practically even surface. It thus looks attractive to the eye whilst being extremely functional.
Helathis: R&D to reduce costs and improve efficiency in the modules
T-Solar can see that if solar photovoltaic energy are to compete successfully on the market the efficiency of the modules needs to be boosted and their production costs brought down. This is why the company is heading the Helathis research project. Helathis (Hight Efficient Very Large Area Thin Film Silicon Photovoltaic Modules) is an initiative under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. It aims to improve the performance of large-area thin-film amorphous hydrogenated silicon modules using optical light confinement technology.
The project researchers aim to reduce the production costs of the module to 0,6 €/Wp within three years. They are also working to achieve a stabilised performance of approximately 8% from simple-union large-area modules (5.7 m2) such as those produced by T-Solar in Orense, and 11% from double-union modules within three years.
Apart from the T-Solar R+D team, the HELATHIS project also involves the Jüelich research institute (Germany), Barcelona university (Spain), Utrecht university (Netherlands),and AGC Flat Glass Europe (Belgium), the biggest producer of flat glass for construction and specialist industry in the world.