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E2.06 - Applications of Antireflection Coatings for Enhancing Power Output of Solar Panels 
April 7, 2015   3:45pm - 4:00pm

Nanostructured antireflection (AR) layers on the front sheet of a solar panel can significantly increase the power output of the solar panel, and thereby lower the cost of solar electricity production. Sunlight incident on the front surface of conventional panels undergoes Fresnel reflection due to the mismatch between the refractive indices of air and of the front sheet of the panel. This reflection loss is around 4% at noon and can be greater than 40% at dawn or dusk. An optical interface layer with intermediate refractive indices at the air/front sheet interface can eliminate or greatly reduce the unwanted reflection. Designing the optical interface layer, i.e., antireflection structure is challenging due to the unavailability of material with the required intermediate refractive indices. Recent developments in nanostructured coatings have overcome this limitation and provide new avenues for novel antireflection structures. The need for broadband and wider angle AR structures has been significantly amplified due to recent development of novel PV technologies, such as tandem cells that harvest the entire spectrum of sunlight with greater efficiencies. However, most of the approaches previously developed to create broadband high-performance nanostructured AR coatings have experienced difficulties due to limitations in tuning the refractive index of the coating materials and lack of controllability in achieving the desired thickness of the ultra-low refractive index material. We have developed a scalable self-assembled nanostructure process that overcomes these limitations. Our process has the ability to create ultra-low refractive index (down to 1.08) material with controllability in both layer thickness and refractive index. Our nanostructured AR layers have demonstrated ultra-high, omnidirectional transmittance over the entire accessible portion of the solar spectrum and a wide range of optical incidence angles. In this paper, we review our latest work on high performance nanostructure-based AR coatings, including recent efforts to deposit such AR coatings on large area substrates. The high performance of these coatings has been demonstrated on a variety of front surfaces employed in the production of solar panels, including polyester (PET), polycarbonate, fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP), and ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) films, as well as ridged glass sheets. AR coated front sheets integrated on solar panels demonstrate 3% higher short-circuit current at normal incidence and 22% higher short-circuit current for light incident 80� from the normal. Furthermore, NREL�s System Advisor Model (SAM) predicts based on experimental results that Magnolia�s AR coatings can yield 5.4% and 6.4% greater annual power output for flat installations of solar panels at Tucson, AZ and Albany, NY locations, respectively, and 8.8% and 12.4% higher annual power output for vertical installations in Albany, NY and Honolulu, HI, respectively.

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