Smarter E AWARD – Photovoltaics Category 2024 Winners Announced

Highlights :

  • NexWafe, ArcelorMittal Construction, and SMA Solar Technology shine for Smarter E AWARD Photovoltaics 2024 category
Smarter E AWARD – Photovoltaics Category 2024 Winners Announced

The Smarter E AWARD 2024 has been announced, celebrating a new set of winners who are transforming the dynamics of energy and mobility through their innovative products and solutions. The Smarter E AWARD seeks to honour concepts and technologies that contribute to a 24/7 renewable energy supply. The award encompasses five categories: Photovoltaics, Energy Storage, E-Mobility, Smart Integrated Energy, and Outstanding Projects. This year’s finalists showcased trends such as artificial intelligence, digital twins, and software-as-a-service solutions, all designed to enhance performance and efficiency in the energy sector.

In this blog, we focus on the Photovoltaic category, highlighting its winners. The finalists included a total of 10 entries, concluding with three of them as winners in the category: EpiNex by NexWafe, Helioroof by ArcelorMittal Construction, and Sunny Central FLEX by SMA Solar Technology.

finalists of photovoltaics category

EpiNex by NexWafe

NexWafe has won the Smarter E AWARD 2024 in the “Photovoltaics” category for their innovative application, EpiNex. This German company is leading the way in sustainable solar PV wafer production with EpiNex, a manufacturing solution that streamlines polysilicon production and significantly reduces energy consumption.

EpiNex by NexWafe - Winner of the Smarter E AWARD 2024 in the "Photovoltaics" category

NexWafe has been developing a more efficient and cost-effective manufacturing process for wafers with its innovative EpiNex production technology. This proprietary process produces monocrystalline silicon wafers directly from inexpensive raw materials, transitioning from the gas phase to finished wafers in a single step. By eliminating costly and energy-intensive intermediate steps like polysilicon production and ingot pulling, which traditional wafer manufacturing relies on, EpiNex offers a groundbreaking advancement in solar PV wafer production.

The Smarter E AWARD 2024 recognises EpiNex’s manufacturing process for converting high-purity polycrystalline silicon into silicon wafers as a groundbreaking innovation, addressing the most energy-intensive and time-consuming stage in the value-added chain of silicon-based PV modules.

EpiNex wafers boast high material quality, achieving the same solar cell efficiency as conventional high-quality monocrystalline wafers. This proprietary process also allows for the production of ultra-thin wafers, less than 100 µm thick. NexWafe’s unique patented technology is anticipated to significantly reduce wafer production costs, positioning solar photovoltaics as the most affordable form of renewable energy available.

Last year, NexWafe secured 30 million euros ($33 million) in funding to expedite the construction of its first commercial-scale facility in the eastern town of Bitterfeld. This facility, set to begin production in 2025, will have an annual capacity of 250 megawatts. Furthermore, under its agreement with Reliance Solar Energy Limited (RSEL), NexWafe has established an India Strategic Partnership. RSEL will gain access to NexWafe’s proprietary technology and plans to build large-scale wafer manufacturing facilities in India using these advanced processes.

Helioroof by ArcelorMittal Construction

ArcelorMittal Construction has been recognized as a winner of the 2024 Smarter E AWARD in the “Photovoltaics” category for their innovation, Helioroof. Helioroof streamlines the installation of solar-ready roofing by integrating high-performance steel-based panels with embedded silicon solar cells.

Helioroof by Arcelor Mittal Construction - Winner of the Smarter E AWARD 2024 in the "Photovoltaics" category

Helioroof boasts impressive energy-generating power and exceptional versatility. These panels can efficiently build or replace entire roofs for heated residential and commercial premises, supporting lengths up to 11 meters and providing an output of 2.2 kW. Weighing about 50 per cent less than standard solar-insulated roofs, Helioroof adds just 2.5 kg/sqm compared to 12 kg/sqm for conventional PV modules and their required substructures. This weight reduction eases the structural burden on buildings and allows for more versatile installations, making Helioroof ideal for renovation projects. Additionally, ArcelorMittal Construction claims that Helioroof reduces CO2 emissions by 25 per cent compared to standard solar-insulated roofs, thanks to the elimination of glass and substructures, thus lowering buildings’ carbon footprints.

The firm initiated its pilot installation at its industrial site in Contrisson, featuring 1 kWp panels covering 6 meters. In 2024, ArcelorMittal Construction plans to recruit and deploy projects for early adopters as it gears up for the industrialization of Helioroof technology in Contrisson, France, by the latter half of 2024.

Sunny Central FLEX by SMA Solar Technology

SMA Solar Technology is the third firm named as winner of the Smarter E AWARD 2024 in the Category “Photovoltaics” for its application Sunny Central FLEX. It is a modular platform that facilitates grid connections for large photovoltaic installations, batteries, or fuel cells/electrolyzers. By utilizing SiC-MOSFETs as semiconductor switches, the system achieves high efficiency. SMA’s Sunny Central FLEX integrates a DC-DC converter, inverter, medium-voltage transformer, and switchgear into a single 40-foot container.

Sunny Central FLEX by SMA Solar Technology - Winner of the Smarter E AWARD 2024 in the "Photovoltaics" category

The Inverter supplier presented its innovation earlier this week at Intersolar 2024, in Munich, Germany. The platform solution’s grid-forming capabilities support both current and future energy demands, while a claimed ease of integration with DC-DC converters enables grid-forming for solar-plus-storage hybrid systems.

The platform has been engineered to enhance the integration of renewable energy into the grid, with the capability to precisely control plant behaviour at the point of interconnection. To boost the DC-AC and DC-DC converters, it uses silicon carbide in the central inverters.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.