6 questions for Panasonic Solar

by James Martin II on January 21, 2013

Panasonic Solar Panels

Panasonic, known globally for its household electronics, is also a manufacturer of high-end solar panels. Solar Selections asked Panasonic Solar EU 6 questions about the company, its products, and the UK’s solar industry in general. Their responses are below.

In a paragraph or two, tell us what sets Panasonic and its solar panels apart from other solar panel manufacturers active in the UK’s solar industry.

The long history is certainly one of the main distinctive features. Research for our solar panels started in 1975, with HIT [solar modules] going into mass production in 1997, when most people knew solar panels only from their calculator, or spacecrafts. Panasonic is continually investing into research to improve their products, make them more efficient and cost-effective. Thanks to these nearly four decades spent on photovoltaic (PV) research, we can offer a reliable guarantee to our customers, not just a hypothetical one.

Our manufacturing process is a hundred percent in-house, so we can also vouch for every step of the production. Panasonic photovoltaic modules are characterized by a particularly high level of efficiency and unsurpassed quality.

-Tell us about a case study where your panels were used that is a shining example of what Panasonic does best.

A nice example of why our modules offer more than others is e.g. The Ark, a prototype houseboat moored at Hermitage Wharf on the Thames. The upper deck of the houseboat has been fitted with a Panasonic 2kWp solar photovoltaic installation. It produces 1716 kWh, covering the houseboat’s total energy needs of around 1000 kWh, whilst also producing energy to spare, which could be stored in batteries. As the houseboat offers only limited space, the efficient HIT modules were first choice for the owners. With their high cell efficiency of up to 21,6 %, HIT modules offer more yield in limited space.

Enviko Solar Houseboat 1

Enviko Solar Houseboat 2

-What feedback from installers and end-customers who use Panasonic’s HIT panels?

PVOutputPVOutput is the online service for solar energy users to share and compare their output stats. With figures updated from hundreds of users across the globe on a weekly and monthly basis, it’s become a makeshift social network for homeowners that embrace renewable energy. Will is the technical manager for [a prominent UK solar system installation company] who act as distributors and installers for a range of renewable energy products including Panasonic’s HIT panels. The company is based in Essex, but Will lives in Dorking, Surrey and has installed 12 HIT panels in his own home. He regularly monitors his PV output and uploads the figures to the database. This allows him to compare how successful his system is in comparison to others from around the world.

“I’ve had the system for just over a year and throughout January – March, the performance was above 50% of the nominal performance – a brilliant return on investment in itself! June alone was 4% above nominal performance, and considering the terrible, rainy weather we’ve had this year this is way beyond what I ever could have hoped for the system. Winter has been extremely successful considering our predictions for the year and we’re eager to see what the next few months will bring too.”

-There are many product options for cost-conscious homes and businesses considering going solar in the UK. What are the arguments for customers to spend more or less on the components used in their system?

It is a bit of stating the obvious, but quality does have a price. If I am going to invest on an installation which should serve me for the next 30 years, I would certainly like to get a quality installation where I have full guarantee on performance, where I don’t have to fear costly and annoying maintenance work. For large-size plants with several thousand panels, some broken panels might not change much in terms of output, but for people who have 16 panels on their roof and rely on these for their energy supply, this is a completely different matter. Panasonic has shipped 3,230,537 modules in Europe alone, with a failure rate of only 0.0034% (as of December 2012), with most of these cases being broken glass and only a dwindling number of actual cell material or assembly issue.

As we strongly focus on the quality aspect of our modules, we are always keen to have independent parties approve them. Fraunhofer Institute and Chemitox have recently tested our products on potential-induced degradation (PID), and we do have various other certificates to prove it.

-There is sometimes the perception out there that the UK does not have a climate appropriate for solar PV. What are your thoughts on the case for installing a system here?

So the UK cannot boast endless sunny days – you don’t need them to make PV pay. It is the cumulative amount of solar energy reaching the earth’s surface that matters and this is actually quite reasonable across the UK. This overall value of energy from daily sunlight provides solar energy systems with the input they need to perform well. It is emission-free, does not make any noise or create dirt, and there is a never ending supply of sunlight, making solar photovoltaics an excellent energy source. All it needs is a bit of space, and you have your own, decentralized power station.

-Where do you see the the UK solar industry in 2020? How important will solar power be?

Actually, the UK likes solar power – according to a 2012 YouGov poll conducted by The Sunday Times, 72% believe that the UK should be investing more in solar power. With electricity prices on the rise, the British see the consumption of self-generated energy as a reasonable way out of the cost spiral. Another factor speaking for solar is that, compared with the rest of Europe, the UK boasts an unusually high percentage of homeowners – meaning a lot of people do have the basic means to start producing their own energy. So we expect to see a continuing increase of installations, reaching about 10,000 MW in 2020.

All images via Panasonic Solar

© 2013 Solar Selections Ltd

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gerald Towner February 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Just about to have Panasonic panels installed,it’s a no brianer with interest rates down to 2 per cent ,panels down in price you can’t go wrong bring them on,

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