A Few Words



Platform-ZERO kicked-off in January 2023, and within the next four years, this 10M€ innovation project co-funded by the European Commission will contribute to increase the production quality of photovoltaic (PV) devices. The project is targeting to reduce the cost of high-tech PV devices and increase the competitiveness of EU’s PV industry which allows this green technology to become a key energy source for Europe’s transition towards climate-neutral energy generation.


Zero Defect

Solar photovoltaic (PV) already provides an important contribution to the European energy mix (3.1% of EU-28 gross electricity generation in 2020 (Eurostat), and solar energy has the potential to meet 20% of the EU electricity demand in 2040 (Bloomberg). The latest generation of PV technologies combine high performance with a strong flexibility for integration in buildings, vehicles, agrivoltaics and internet-of-things devices. However, their high-complexity makes them prone to the appearance of critical defects with just small deviations from standard manufacturing conditions, leading to significant production waste. Platform-ZERO addresses this challenge by developing a new customizable in-line process monitoring platform, supported by artificial intelligence, for achieving zero-defect manufacturing in the third generation PV industry to allow an early detection, correction and/or prevention of pre-critical production faults. The strategy will be tested in four pilot plants from PV and PV-related industrial partners in Spain, Germany, Austria and Poland. The pilots are devoted to smart coatings for PV, high-efficiency solar modules and flexible solar foils of different photovoltaic materials and processes.


Sensor Stations

There are no multi-sensor solutions available in the market that can be adapted and integrated within third generation PV manufacturing processes with the in-line monitoring capabilities of those proposed in Platform-ZERO. The project promotes “first-time-right” production and prevents defect production at early stages by developing non-destructive inspection methods and sensors for in-line monitoring of PV materials and devices.


AI System

Project monitoring and control in industrial manufacturing of complex devices faces a high nonlinearity and stochasticity arising from countless uncertainties and interdependencies. Currently, quality control in the PV industry is carried out using statistical evaluation and highly qualified operators for data interpretation. This statistical analysis assumes that data are unimodal which is not the case for complex manufacturing processes. In this context, decision-making, process corrections and fine tuning are implemented manually, with a partial understanding of the process state and relying mainly on human expertise. To overcome this, Platform-ZERO creates new AI-based diagnostic methods based on real-time analysis of multi-source heterogeneous data for in-line project monitoring and control of PV industrial production.


Data Management

Big data technologies are enabling effective processing of terabyte-scale data, with open-source technologies like Hadoop providing the technical foundations. However, the configuration of the data store, data modelling and query design are crucial for reaching the desired query performance levels. Therefore, the data store and its accompanying data storage and access code as well as the data model have to be specifically designed and optimized for every use-case. Platform-ZERO builds infrastructure and software architecture for the interconnection, management and control of the AI-based multi-source in-line project monitoring and control platform.


Monitoring Platform

Manufacturing of third generation PV devices is a multi-stage complex process where small deviations from the finely tuned standard manufacturing conditions result in the appearance of manufacturing defects that can propagate and result in defective products. This generates energy, process time and high-value materials waste. These issues could be minimized by implementing systems that provide a holistic in-line characterization of devices during fabrication, allow an early identification of production faults and provide information for process re-optimization. In Platform-ZERO fully operative monitoring platforms will be installed in four PV manufacturing lines for real-time monitoring and control.


PV Devices

An effective reduction of PV manufacturing defects using standard process monitoring systems based on statistical process control requires costly platforms as well as human-driven data correlation and interpretation by highly trained and qualified operators. This is a highly time-consuming off-line process that assumes that the data are unimodal (which is not the common case for complex PV device manufacturing) which can lead to misinterpretations. In Platform-ZERO it is expected to demonstrate a significant increase of sustainable PV production quality and yield through improved process monitoring and control system.