Definitive Solar Institute

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You Be the Judge: A Ratings Tool for Selecting the Best Solar Module

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:00am - 11:00am EST  
Host: Definitive Solar Institute
By: Matthew Thompson, Executive Director, Principal Solar Institute; Ken Allen, COO, Principal Solar; and Steven Hegedus, Sr. Scientist, Univ Delaware Inst of Energy Conversion

What is the best PV module for a particular application? Is it one with the lowest cost per watt?  Ultimately, it is the amount of energy produced that is the key factor in the economics of investment recovery and profit. 

The Principal Solar Institute (PSI) has developed a tool for analyzing this key element: The PSI PV Module Rating, an energy assessment tool for comparing the Lifetime Energy Production of PV modules over a 25-year period. Using the PSI Rating, solar energy professionals can finally make easy, meaningful energy-economics comparisons of PV modules between manufacturers or within one manufacturer’s product line.

Hear Matt Thompson PhD, Executive Director of the Principal Solar Institute, and Kenneth Allen, COO of Principal Solar, Inc. and Principal Solar Institute Ratings Expert Panelist give an overview of the PSI PV Module Rating and explain how to use the ratings in financial calculations and comparisons of modules and manufacturers. Also, Steven Hegedus, PhD, scientist at the University of Delaware Institute of Energy Conversion, will present an overview of PV module field testing and performance metrics.Then discover specific applications for your business during a LIVE question-and-answer segment following the presentation.

PSI has just published a whitepaper detailing the PSI PV Module Ratings. You should download it free of charge here.


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Matthew Thompson
Matthew Thompson

Executive Director, Principal Solar Institute

Matthew Thompson is a scientist with 23 years experience in semiconductor process development and yield enhancement at Motorola and at Freescale Semiconductor. At Motorola's Advanced Process Development Laboratory, he developed vertical gate oxidation processes and equipment. In a collaborative research and development project that included Motorola and IBM, he designed Synchrotron x-ray optics for deep submicron lithography, and supported x-ray mask design. The project culminated with a successful fabrication of fully functional memory chips using x-ray lithography. In another industry research project, Matthew worked with Motorola and Lucent Technologies to develop 200 mm mask manufacturing processes for a novel projection electron beam lithography technique. In addition to these advanced lithography research projects, he developed computer algorithms for Complimentary Phase Shift Masks, leading to volume manufacture of products with 50 nm gates using 248 nm imaging tools. At Freescale Semiconductor, he worked to improve profitability and performance by development and deployment of Design for Manufacturability methodology. Matthew holds six patents in areas such as electronic design processing, x-ray mirror design, and advanced e-beam lithography, and optical and photo mask design. Matthew earned a B.S. in Physics at Texas Tech University, and a Ph. D. in Physics at The University of Texas at Austin. His doctoral research on electronic and magnetic properties of ultra-thin crystalline films pre-dates the popular terminology: "nano-technology".

Ken Allen
Ken Allen

COO, Principal Solar

Kenneth G. Allen, Principal Solar, Inc. COO and Principal Solar Institute Ratings Expert Panelist, brings a wealth of knowledge to both organizations from his experience as team leader in Administration and Engineering at Texas Utilities and later at Texas Independent Energy. Kenneth spent 30 years as a manager at TXU Energy, one of the nation's largest electricity generation companies.  During that term, Kenneth oversaw construction of several gigawatts of generation.  After leaving TXU, Kenneth joined Texas Independent Energy, an entrepreneurial startup, where he spent nine years managing gas-fired facilities and selling electricity to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Steven Hegedus
Steven Hegedus

Sr. Scientist, Univ Delaware Inst of Energy Conversion

Dr. Steven Hegedus has been involved in solar cell research for 30 years. He received a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 1977 and went to IBM Corp to design and test integrated circuits. During this time he went to Cornell for a Masters in Electrical Engineering, analyzing GaAs solar cells for his thesis. In 1982, he joined the research staff of the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) at the University of Delaware (UD), the world's oldest photovoltaic research laboratory.  While at the IEC, he got a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UD in 1990.

At IEC, he has worked on all of the commercially active solar cell technologies – a-Si, CdTe, Cu(InGa)Se2, organic, and c-Si - but his special focus are those made from a-Si and related materials.

Areas of active research over 3 decades have included optical enhancement, a-SiGe alloys, textured TCOs, thin film device analysis and characterization, a-Si/c-Si heterojunctions, and stability under accelerated degradation conditions. He has contracts with the US Dept of Energy and is actively collaborating with many US PV and supply chain companies, large and small Dr. Hegedus has been an author of over 100 papers in the field of solar cell device analysis, processing, reliability and measurements.  He has consulted for several companies in the PV supply chain.

He co-edited the 1st and 2nd editions of the "Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering" (Wiley 2003, 2011) and he is a co-editor of the journal "Progress in Photovoltaics". He teaches a graduate class at UD in Solar Energy Technology and Applications and has advised over ten graduate students. He has a secondary appointment in the Electrical Engineering Department.

Dr. Hegedus is keenly aware of the impact of policy on solar energy commercialization and is a Policy Fellow at UD's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy since 2006. He was the first resident of his town to install a rooftop PV system.


  • Principal Solar, Inc.

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