Soltech (SOLTECH | With a touch of SOLTECH) is a long-established Belgian company (founded in 1989), a pioneer in photovoltaic solar energy. Soltech’s area of expertise is the design and production of custom photovoltaic modules for specific construction and industrial applications. Next to panels for autonomous and industrial applications, Soltech specializes in the development and production of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV). The main targets for the development of Soltech’s products are the improvement of aesthetics, the combined functionality (electricity production and the ‘classic’ function of the building element) as well as achieving high efficiencies and the improvement of long-term reliability of PV modules.
Soltech has a strong focus on R&D activities, continuous development of novel products and on the improvement of existing ones by applying the most advanced technological solutions. The research activities focus on testing of any new materials considered for use in photovoltaic panels, the interconnection and lamination of solar cells with all kinds of materials in function of the requested application.
In the SUNOVATE project, Soltech’s role is the processing and integration of IR regulating foils into photovoltaic panels. Polyolefine (POE) films with IR regulating pigments are used as encapsulants for the lamination of crystalline silicon solar panels. The lamination cycle was optimized for POE pigmented foils, and a process for the integration of FBG sensor technology (PV-sense) in an industrial setting was developed. The pilot PV panels were produced with the help of TNO (pigmented encapsulant) and UHasselt (PV-Sense using FBG sensors). Besides PV panels with IR regulating pigments, reference panels were made with the regular Yparex POE encapsulant without pigment. Two demonstrator PV panels resemble standard opaque backsheet 60 cell panels; as part of the SUNOVATE demonstration, these are installed at SolarBEAT (SolarBEAT dé openlucht testfaciliteit voor BIPV(T) | TNO). Other PV panels, representing semi-transparent façade elements as well as insulating glass units, are implemented in glass/glass at EnergyVille in Genk (Onderzoek naar duurzame energie en intelligente energiesystemen | EnergyVille).