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3SUN heterojunction panels beat the desert test

Evaluation carried out in the Atacama Desert reveals that the heterojunction technology panels developed by 3SUN and CEA outperform some of the best PERC technologies. After 18 months of measurement in a real-life environment, they show better efficiency and temperature performance.
Published on 16 May 2024

When it comes to photovoltaics, long-term testing in real-life conditions is more important than laboratory measurements and manufacturers' product data sheets. And what better place than the Atacama Desert to put 3SUN's photovoltaic panels to the extreme in terms of irradiation and UV radiation!

Atacama is renowned for being one of the most arid regions on earth, and that's why we have chosen this place with 3SUN to carry out a comparative study between 3SUN's HJT technology and 3 of the best commercial PERC technology references from manufacturers in the world's top 10 in terms of production capacity.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the Chilean institute ATAMOSTEC (funded by CORFO National Agency for Development), evaluates the performance of photovoltaic panels, operating under real conditions: outdoor exposure, installation and connection in a solar power plant. The HJT panels and the three PERC references are set up in strings of eight modules in series, installed on a fixed inclined support (North, 20°) or on two horizontal axis trackers side by side. Two additional fixed supports and one tracker are equipped with dummy modules generating close shading to make this configuration representative of actual use.

The results of the analysis over 18 months of operation, from June 2022 to the end of 2023, allow us to draw several conclusions:

  • after 18 months' operation in the desert, no trend towards performance degradation appears for any of the technologies monitored;
  • the use of trackers in this part of the world offers an average 17.9% gain in front irradiation;
  • 3SUN's HJT panels offer excellent performance, better than the three competing PERC references, both in fixed installation and on trackers.

On the fixed inclined structure, the monthly performance in yield (kWh/kWp) of 3SUN panels is 3 to 5.5% higher than that of the PERC references tested. On trackers, 3SUN panels outperform their competitors by 4.3 to 6.6%.

The heterojunction technology used by 3SUN once again shows lower thermal losses, less than 4.2%, on each system, compared with other PERC technologies (losses of 5 to 5.9%), thanks to a better temperature coefficient in power.


Aerial view of the test facility in the Atacama desert - Credit ATAMOSTEC - Corfo​

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