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Infini Develops 'Snow-melting' Solar Panel

2020/01/10 16:31
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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The "snow-melting solar panel" that Infini started to test in Minamiaizu-machi (source: Nikkei BP)
The control board of the snow-melting system (source: Nikkei BP)

Infini Co Ltd developed a solar panel equipped with a function to melt snow, installed it in Minamiaizu-machi (town), Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, and started to test it.

Infini (Naniwa-ku, Osaka Prefecture) is a company that manufactures and sells solar panels under the brand of "Japan Solar."

Infini is operating a solar panel factory in Naraha-machi (town), Fukushima Prefecture, and has been developing a solar power generation (PV) system designed for heavy-snow regions in cooperation with the Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute, AIST (FREA). In the verification test, Infini installed the solar panel on the roof of a private house in collaboration with Izumi Denki (Minamiaizu-machi).

The snow-melting solar panel, which Infini started to test in this winter, has a structure that sandwiches a heat-generating sheet between solar cells and backsheet. When a sensor detects snowfall, snow on the panel is melted by heating the glass cover from beneath.

This time, Infini added the snow-melting function to a crystalline silicon solar panel (60-cell, 280W). The output required for melting one solar panel is 300W, and commercial power is used for it. In an indoor laboratory, snow melting was completed in about 30 minutes with a room temperature of -10°C, snow depth of 20mm and snowfall of 20mm/h.

In the test conducted in Minamiaizu-machi, 15 solar panels were installed on the roof (total output: 4.2kW), and the output that the system requires for the snow-melting function is 4.5kW. The test period is one year. Infini will examine the snow-melting function's effect of increasing the amount of electricity generated and the electricity cost for snow melting under actual weather conditions in the aim of making improvements to the solar panel.