The rise in greenhouse gas emissions from energy is unsustainable. By 2030, global greenhouse emissions could more than double due to rising use of fossil fuels, notably in developing countries. At the same time most climate experts suggest that carbon dioxide emissions need to be halved if the worst impacts of climate change are to be avoided. The IPPC states in its Fourth Assessment report that CO2 emissions will need to reach their peak by 2015 at the latest and immediately start declining for the world to stay below a 2 degrees Celsius increase in average temperature. New nuclear fusion and carbon capture will not be available within that timeframe. Therefore, the need for a long-lasting solution that is environmentally benign, economically sound and can be put quickly and efficiently into place is more urgent than ever.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) fills all these criteria and it is one of the most important tools that Europe possesses in decarbonising power generation while maintaining the economic growth and prosperity of the region. There are several CSP technologies which are currently being evaluated in terms of power generating efficiency and cost, including parabolic trough, dish stirling, concentrating linear fresner reflector, solar chimney and solar power tower. Parabolic troughs are the most widely deployed type of solar thermal power plant. Linear Fresnel Reflectors have a similar concept and comparable efficiency to parabolic trough based CSP plants but they are cheaper to build due to the simpler shape of the reflectors. More recently, Central Tower Receivers which can operate at temperatures well above 800oC have also been under investigation.
Flexible organic and inorganic solar cells are increasingly becoming important as an alternative source of energy. Although photovoltaic or solar cells are a proven concept, many challenges remain in the production process of these flexible thin-film solar cells. In order to interconnect the individual cells, the multilayer materials of the cell are patterned to form a "shingle" structure, which ensures its connectivity to adjacent cells. Subsequently, flexible metal tabs or foils, generally made of aluminium or copper, are welded to the cells to form modules. Such processes increase complexity of manufacturing and thus, require a cost-effective and reliable inspection method to test the cells for defects. Defects like micro-cracks can eventually cause an entire panel to shatter, causing damage to other panels and equipment, and necessitating an expensive shutdown of the line for cleanup and repairs. Scratches on the frame or glass, excessive or uneven glue marks on the glass, and gaps between the frame and glass due to poor sealing, all need to be detected early in the manufacturing phase to take necessary measures.
CIT's Digital Radiography solutions can help detect such defects accurately and efficiently with its range of digital detectors and advanced imaging and computing solutions, thereby providing complete inspection of solar cells and contributing towards 100% manufacturing rate - a necessity with growing demand for solar power generation.