A survey back in 2022 shows that 69% of American adults favor prioritizing the development of renewable energy sources. In the same study, about 67% think the US should combine fossil fuels and renewable energy like solar.
If you’re one of these forward-thinking people, you might be wondering what goes into the solar manufacturing process. Why would someone invest in that technology? Where does this technology come from?
You don’t have to wonder anymore! We’re here to bust some of the myths that may still be in your head while showing you how the process works.
Gathering Raw Materials
Gathering raw materials is one of the key stages in the solar manufacturing process. Solar panels are either monocrystalline silicon or polycrystalline silicon, sourced from either quartzite rocks or manufactured in a lab.
Other materials may include conductive metals like aluminum, gold, and silver. Other non-metallic materials include plastic, glass, resin, and silicone.
Solar manufacturing companies usually buy most of these materials in bulk from local suppliers. However, due to the specific requirements of the solar industry, many companies will source materials from dedicated solar industry suppliers.
Creating Components of a Solar Panel
Several types of solar panels may involve different steps. Generally, the solar manufacturing process begins with the creation of components.
Making Solar Cells
Manufacturers have to melt the silicon and pour it into a cylindrical mold to create a cylindrical silicon ingot. The cylindrical shape of the ingots is crucial to ensure that when it is cut into wafers, the cells in each wafer will be as uniform as possible.
Sawing the ingots into slices makes the wafers. The wafers need polishing to remove any imperfections from the cut.
The wafers will undergo quality testing after this. Those that pass are etched and doped to create N-type and P-type regions.
Conductive layers such as oxygen, phosphorus, and boron are added, and temperature is adjusted to control conductivity. Lastly, a protective and insulating layer is added to the top and sealed to protect the cell. These steps all occur in large-scale, automated manufacturing plants.
Making Solar Glass
The first step is to melt together several of the necessary components as molten glass. This usually combines sand, soda ash, and other material elements.
After heated to the right temperature, it is poured into large molds until it cools and hardens enough to be removed. After cleaning and inspection, the glass is cut into shapes and sizes for the solar panel.
Finally, it is tempered and heat-strengthened to ensure it will resist extreme weather conditions. It is ready for the photovoltaic modules and other components that will complete the solar panel.
Created the EVA Sheet
The solar manufacturing process involves the making of the EVA sheet. It is a material consisting of an ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer that acts as the panel’s core.
It’s created by heating and mixing ethylene and vinyl acetate in a specialized reactor. The hot liquid is filtered before moving to a sheet extrusion unit, which is solidified into a sheet. It is cooled and cut into pieces according to the size and shape requirements of the solar panel.
Create a Back Sheet
The first step in making the back sheet is the formulation of the raw item. This involves the selection of starting materials, such as UV stabilized sheets and a range of base resins and other options, to produce the desired product. The mixture is blended and cut into the needed sizes.
Extrusion is the next step. It includes the heating of the formulation and its passage through a die orifice to form the back sheet.
After this, it is sent to the calendaring process. This includes the coating of the back sheet with resins and aluminum pastes. This process ensures that it has good water, dust, and mechanical protection.
Ensuring the completion of the calendaring process, it is sent to the curing, cleaning, and punching process. The curing process involves thermal processing that gives the back sheet its desired mechanical strength. It also adds ultraviolet protection and other characteristics.
The cleaning and punching process involves the cutting of holes in the back sheet to enable the electrical connection. Following these processes, the back sheet is then ready for use.
Making the Aluminum Frame
Making the aluminum frame begins with cutting raw aluminum into appropriate sizes. The sections are then separated and sent to a machine to shape the aluminum into the necessary frame shapes.
Next, the cleaning process removes any contaminants or debris. After that, the aluminum frame is sent to a welding machine. This is where a high-temperature welding arc connects the two pieces of the structure and completes the shape.
Finally, the aluminum frame is transported to the location of the solar panel. It is now ready for installation and use.
Making the Junction Box
Making a junction box begins with the cutting and shaping of the metal. A laser cutter or a water jet cutter can do this. The pre-fabricated metal components are then put together in an assembly line process.
The individual components are connected and then soldered. Once the junction box is assembled, all the wires and terminals must be connected to the box. This is done by crimping each wire and terminal into the box.
After that, the wiring is insulated to protect it from weather, and the exterior is painted or powder coated. The junction box is then inspected and tested to ensure it is up to standard and that all the connections are secure.
Assembling the Parts of a Solar Panel
Assembling the parts of a solar panel is a critical part of the process. It requires careful attention to detail.
The cells are then attached either with soldering or using conductive adhesives. The cells and wafers must be lined up in a precise pattern.
All these components are then housed within an encapsulant to protect against environmental factors. The individual components of a solar panel are positioned onto a lamination sheet.
The lamination sheet is placed into a laminator. This machine is a large vacuum system that seals all the panel components together.
After that, various other electronic parts and components are added to the frame. These are the interconnections and other features, such as junction boxes. Finally, the back sheet and glass layer are added as the last pieces of the solar panel.
Assessing Quality Control
The solar manufacturing process employs a variety of mechanisms for assessing quality during production. Before production begins, each system component must be inspected to ensure it meets the minimum quality requirements.
Process validation and quality control techniques are used during the manufacturing process. This is to ensure conformance to specifications in combination with quality assurance techniques.
These techniques may include automated testing and visual inspection. There is also input/output testing, functional testing, and statistical process control.
Once the system is completed, final inspection and quality assurance are carried out. This is to ensure further the system complies with its requirements.
Once the solar cells pass all these tests, they are ready to be packaged and sent out for installation. This entire process must be done with meticulous care and attention to detail. This guarantees the customer paying for solar power gets the highest quality product.
Continuous improvement and quality audits are also conducted. These are necessary steps to strengthen processes and identify any areas for improvement. All these elements combined make for a comprehensive quality assurance approach, which ensures that the solar system meets the highest quality standards.
Packaging and Delivery
Once everything is assembled, the packaging process begins. The product is fitted into a protective cardboard casing tailored to ensure it is safely transported to its destination. The labels are then placed and sealed on the packages.
From there, it is shipped out directly to the customer. The customer is informed about the approximate delivery date and package information via email or postcard. Once the packages arrive at their final destinations, the packaged cells are unloaded and ready for the final installation of the solar systems.
In some cases, if the customer does not need delivery, they can arrange to pick up their order directly from the manufacturer. In any case, the manufacturer is responsible for making sure the package reaches its destination safely and undamaged.
A Closer Look at the Solar Manufacturing Process
The solar manufacturing process is both complex and highly efficient. Modern technology and automation have allowed processes to become much more streamlined and cost-effective.
The demand for renewable energy sources to build sustainable homes continues to increase. It is essential to understand that many components comprise the solar manufacturing process.
Do you want to find more helpful info? Check out more of our guides on our blog today!
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