There is a target to attain net zero by 2050 or 2060 as the case may be for several organisations and countries. To achieve this target, renewable energy products and solutions have been the top pick in any project, discussion, or economic analysis. Solar and Wind energy offer the highest capacity with decreasing cost of production yearly. Additionally, these two are expected to be the largest provider of energy in the next decade and even beyond 2050. A review into an innovative solar photovoltaic product (QCell’s G11 Solar Panel) aims to determine how clean the product is and its contributions to sustainable energy across its lifecycle.
One of the most recent and innovative products from QCells is the G11 Extra-Large Peak Duo Solar Panel with approximately 580 watt-peak (Wp). In the case of the duo, the rear has a solar capturing surface along with the front having just a thickness of 35 millimetres (mm). The specifications are: 2416mm in length, 1134mm in breadth, and 34.4 kilograms (kg) as the glass from both sides are 2mm thick. It has a maximum voltage of 1500 volts (V) and can supply a maximum of 25 amperes (A). With an area coverage of 2.74 metre-squared (m2), it is about 20% efficient, generating 440 watts of power, 10A and 43V at normal operating conditions.
Operationally, it is made to harness solar radiation from both surfaces, increasing the generation capacity of energy as opposed to only a single surface and reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in the process. This ensures clients can have more energy for the same amount of money years before its innovation. It is installed in several properties and solar farms with a 30-year performance and 25-year product warranty. This means that decommissioning happens close to three decades but QCell has released no information on the recycling process or which parts are recyclable. It states that decommissioning be performed with local regulations transferring responsibility to another company or organisation. Partnering with a recycling company will be of significance to QCell. When in use, the PVs have a negative carbon impact, but the company has no direct involvement in processing at the end of life.
The solar panels are made with chemicals and very sensitive materials. The frame is made of anodised aluminium as the front glass is made with anti-reflective technology and is thermally pre-stressed while the back glass is semi-tempered. The EVA, a thermoplastic polymer, is an encapsulation that keeps impurities away from the sandwiched components and PV is made with monocrystalline cells. These manufacturing processes require huge amounts of energy and there is no indication from QCell on how the processes operate or whether they are powered with renewable energy.
It is made with layers of materials sandwiched between the frame, glass, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), solar cells, EVA, and the backsheet. It is made for different weather conditions from hot, windy to humid areas. Additionally, it is made with different ratings from efficiency, surface sides, power capacity to models for residential, commercial to utility (solar farm) purposes. This requires that the composition of the materials used differs slightly for these products. Since the compositions cannot be determined, the quantity of impact from each material is unknown from their extraction, manufacture up to the point of installation and during use. One point of concern is that the factories are based in countries that have huge carbon emissions such as the United States and China. There is barely any information on each of the stages of production which would help counteract the concern and no roadmap or strategy for sustainability. This means clients cannot state how clean the PVs are in terms of embodied emissions.
QCells is a renewable energy company focusing on providing energy solutions with its major product being Solar Photovoltaics (PVs). Its aim is to harness the power of the sun and contribute to reducing carbon and green-house gas emissions. It develops innovative products envisioning a sustainable future for the planet. It operates in the largest solar markets in the world (USA, Germany, China etc) with sales more than $3 Billion in 2019. It engages in PV production, rooftop installation systems, EPC solutions and energy retailing. Headquartered in Germany and South Korea, it is one of the largest providers of solar solutions globally with 11.3 GW capacity production of PVs as of December 2020.
Some of its major projects include the 234.7 Megawatt-peak (MWp) Midway in Texas (2018), 100 MWp CGN in Tongshan (2018), 60.4 MWp Mattan Engineering in Rembau (2018), 49.5 MWp SH Solar Farm in Vung Tau (2019), and 430 kilowatt-peak (kWp) Gehrer Centre in Durmersheim (2019). It has received several international awards with BloombergNEF, Intersolar as EuroResearch’s Top PV Brand and as NTV German’s Most Popular Product. Its solar PVs undergo several testing, standards, and certifications to ensure quality at the highest levels such as Light Induced Degradation (LID), VDE Product Testing, and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Being a market leader in the solar energy market, its impact on climate change is direct savings in carbon emissions operationally but due to its manufacturing and production operations in carbon-intensive countries, it is most likely churning carbon into the atmosphere and its net carbon impact cannot be effectively determined. QCell may not be a sustainable company or contribute to sustainability.
QCell Becoming Eco-Friendly – https://qcells.com/us/get-inspired/becoming-eco-friendly
QCell Birth of Sustainable Future – https://qcells.com/us/get-inspired/birth-of-sustainable-future
QCell Downloads – https://qcells.com/us/get-support/support: QCell 2020 Company Brochure, QPeak Duo XL-G11 Datasheet, Installation & Operation Manual, and Product Safety Datasheet
QCell Energy Harvesting Technology – https://qcells.com/us/get-inspired/energy-harvesting-technology
QCell Green Work – https://qcells.com/us/get-inspired/our-green-work
QCell Solar Panel – https://qcells.com/us/get-started/complete-energy-solution/solar-panel
What is the EVA? – https://www.eco-greenenergy.com/what-is-the-eva/