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Dow Corning and LG Electronics Team Up for PV System Installation, Efficiency Testing

South Korea's Seowon University is going solar, and you'll never guess who's lending their considerable assistance to help bring that about – Dow Corning and LG Electronics. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the silicon tech giant and the electronics megalith, Dow Corning and LG are joining forces and technologies to install a photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof of Seowon University's campus in Chung-ju.

The installation, which is planned to take place before the end of the year, will start out as a 15-kW PV array but may be replaced by a 1-MW array if things go according to plan. Its aim is twofold: offer Seowon University an opportunity to test the reliability of the PV array on a small scale with the option to expand, and monitor the performance of Dow Corning’s silicone encapsulants against ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) encapsulants to determine which is more capable of offering superior protection for the solar cells without diminishing performance.

“Dow Corning’s silicone encapsulant has achieved higher initial efficiency for crystalline modules over EVA encapsulants,” writes Su-yeon Lee, Global MarCom Leader for Dow Corning. “This is due in large part to silicone’s inherent transparency, which allows for more light to reach the cell. The tangible results of silicone’s improved light transmission, both UV and visible range, translate into a higher watts-peak.”

According to Lee, the results of the collected test data will be used to inform and support the commercialization of Dow Corning’s silicone-based encapsulants. “We set out to demonstrate the benefits and full potential of Dow Corning’s silicone-based encapsulants on LG Electronics’ modules in terms of performance, durability and total cost benefits,” Lee writes. “Combining our cultures is proving to create the type of valuable combination that is going to help drive the solar industry forward.” 

Dow Corning vice president Eric Peeters indicates that Dow’s silicone encapsulants will likely raise the bar on solar power innovation. “We anticipate these PV systems…will produce the same improved performance and reduced panel degradation that we’ve demonstrated in lab tests,” Peeters said in a release. 

The announced “memorandum of understanding” between the three parties is LG’s latest move to continue expansion of its solar panel manufacturing arm, LG Solar. In 2008, LG took its first steps into the solar arena by pursuing a joint venture with Conergy AG, a German solar power developer. Unfortunately, the partnership would never come to fruition and in November of 2008, an LG announced the termination of the relationship due to “worldwide economic uncertainty and changes in strategic direction.”

LG’s involvement with Dow Corning is evidence that the electronics company remains committed to making inroads in solar technology, but it’s not the only pot they’ve got on the proverbial fire. At the recent Solar Power International 2012 in Orlando, LG unveiled its new 60-panel MonoX NeoN solar module, which is said to be one of the lightest solar panels available in the U.S. market. Weighing 16.8 kg, the MonoX NeoN is 11 percent lighter than the previous MonoX design, and improves upon previous versions by offering a higher output of 300W with an efficiency of 18.3 percent.

Lead image: Handshake via Shutterstock

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Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at www.vincefont.com or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

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