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Holistic Design Optimization of the PV Module Frame: CTM, FEM, COO and LCA Analysis
A. Tummalieh, A.J. Beinert, C. Reichel, M. Mittag, D.H. Neuhaus
Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components
Subtopic: PV Module Design, Manufacture, Performance and Reliability
Event: 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 4BO.1.5
540 - 546
ISBN: 3-936338-78-7
Paper DOI: 10.4229/EUPVSEC20212021-4BO.1.5
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper


We present a holistic approach for the photovoltaic (PV) module frame optimization that considers technical as well as economic and ecological aspects for different frame designs. This provides insights into a method to reduce frame costs and carbon footprint without compromising mechanical stability as well as module power. Finite element method (FEM) simulations of module and frame are used to assess mechanical stability, cell-to-module (CTM) analysis is used to evaluate power losses affected by frame overlap, a bottom-up cost model is used for the economic analysis of material and process cost shares of frame manufacturing, and a life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis is applied to evaluate the ecological footprint (CO2-eq/kWP). Compared to a reference frame, the exemplary optimized frame design shows 2.6% less deflection, which corresponds to around 0.7 mm. CTM results show that a bigger frame width lightly decreases the cover coupling power gain. By increasing the front frame width from 16 mm to 20 mm the module power is reduced by 0.12 WP. Cost analysis suggests that the optimized frame can save around 30 g aluminum which reduces the module cost by 0.1%. LCA results are directly correlated to the material mass of the corresponding design. Results show that using the optimized frame can save 0.8 kg CO2-eq/kWP due to the saving in aluminum compared to the reference frame.