CIRCUSOL celebrated its consortium meeting last 8-10 November in Vilnius, Lithuania. The team also had the chance to visit Solitek premises, a PV panel manufacturing plant, which counts with a farm on the rooftop that powers the whole building.
CIRCUSOL project celebrated its Consortium Meeting last 8 – 10 November 2021 in Vilnius, Lithuania. It happened in hybrid mode, so some members of the consortium had the chance to have face-to-face discussions after almost two years, which brought more than a few fruitful conversations outside the meeting room. Zabala was also represented on site, as we participate in management and communication work packages.
Solitek was the consortium member who took the responsibility of organising and hosting the sessions, which included a visit to their remarkable photovoltaic manufacturing plant. We started with the visit to the rooftop, where the PV farm is located. Solitek representatives explained us how the array of solar panels powered the whole building, but that they also had room for investigating new types of cells and panels, such as some that were double-faced, which allowed to gather the energy from both sides, even the reflection (ideally if placed on a whiter background) or some that included a sand sensor, which saved costs in maintenance, and that were bound to be tested in the South of Spain.
Next, Circusol team visited the manufacturing area. Solitek walked us through all the steps in the cycle of creating the solar panels. It is surprising the degree of maual work that the process requires. Despite the automatisation, there is still a degree of welding and assembling that is done by hand.
We were explained that the market until then had been growing steadily, but still was not suffiently widespread: with the recent events (COVID and freight crisis), the market has become more local. In spite of this, they are ready to invest in new machinery to respond to the needs in the short term as they had a high demand, especially in customised panels, which do not even look like such, and that anyone could have one their living room and put a coffee cup on top of it, without realising what in fact is.
Circusol consortium also visited the laboratories. The experts explained us that they were developing some inovative cells with less than a 1% loss of solar energy. The researcher guided us through the massive machinery needed to create these products with a base of silicon alloy and cured in just six seconds of UV exposure. No pictures were allowed, but if one would need to describe them, created the illusion of the blackness of the bird of paradise and were far lighter than your average office paper sheet.
Finally, a marketing representative of the company tried to answer all the questions from Circusol participants, who were eager to know more about the situation of PV in the area or how they faced specific challenges. He also showed us their flagship service, which consists on tailored photovoltaic wall panel installations.
All of us, technical and non-technical members of Circusol, finished the visit with a wider mind in regards to the situation of renewables, the new researches and opportunities in the market. It even brought some deep discussions that evening, which led to the solution of some of dilemmas that the members were facing in their own contexts.