NRCAN Public Report
Nanostructured Anti-Reflection Glass for Solar Panels
Lead Proponent: Edgehog Advanced Technologies Inc.
Strategic Area: Renewable Energy
Fund: Energy Innovation Program
EIP Contribution: $ 750,000.00
Project Total: $ 1,881,055
Edgehog is commercializing invisible solar glass that boosts energy output of solar panels by up to 12%. The innovative nanotexturing of the glass surface eliminates wasted energy from reflection. Edgehog previously demonstrated the enhanced energy generation performance on small solar modules, such as for space applications. To minimize weight, space solar cells are protected by individual pieces of glass. On the other hand, glass for terrestrial solar panels must be sufficiently large to protect all the solar cells on the panel. This project scales up Edgehog’s anti-reflection glass nanotexturing process from small substrate sizes to larger pieces suitable for multi-cell solar panels. The project also involved the migration and development of the process from pure fused silica and borosilicate-based space glass to soda-lime glass used for terrestrial solar panels.
In this project, the nanotexturing treatment process was scaled up for larger pieces of glass suitable for solar panels. The process was scaled from treating 10 cm diameter pieces using standard equipment from the semiconductor industry to 37x47 cm2 pieces using standard flat panel display equipment, the later “generations” of which treat panels at 3 m size scales. The successful scale-up demonstrated the same unique optical properties at the large scale, including anti-reflection properties for (1) the entire usable solar spectrum and (2) at all angles, especially at wide angles. Such a transparent surface allows for up to 25% increase in energy production at the beginning and end of the day when light hits the surface at a wide angle. The continuation of this project includes the deployment of such solar modules in the field for extended testing to validate performance and estimate expected performance on various locations around Canada and the rest of the world.
Benefits to Canada
Edgehog’s unique nanotexturing approach to anti-reflection surfaces will enable more rapid adoption of solar PV. Utility-scale solar PV developers in Canada will benefit from: 1) an approximate 5% decrease in their Levelized Cost of Energy; 2) enhanced energy generation during shoulder periods of the day when the value of electricity is higher; and 3) a decrease in required number of solar panels, saving upfront capital costs. Roof-top and other footprint-limited installations will benefit from generating more energy on the same footprint due to flexibility in panel orientation.
This project scaled-up the glass treatment process to a larger piece of glass that can cover and protect multiple solar cells. Edgehog has partnered with solar manufacturers to laminate this glass onto their solar modules. Such modules will then be installed in the field for extended testing. Edgehog will continue to work with these partners to mature the manufacturing process and bring these enhanced solar panels to market via partnerships.
Figure 1 – Glass substrate in front of a black background. Left half of glass piece is conventional glass showing reflection of the ceiling light. Right half of the glass piece is enabled with Edgehog’s anti-reflection technology, and is nearly completely clear, transmissive, and effectively invisible.
Figure 2 – Here, the same glass substrate shown in Figure 1 is mounted on a solar cell. The left half, conventional glass, shows the reflection of the sky (wasted energy). The right half appears black because nearly all light is transmitted into the solar module and converted into electricity.