How adhesives and sealants contribute to Europe’s energy goals

FEICA Blog Author: Kristel Ons 30 Jan 2024

The REPowerEU plan is accelerating the green transition and promoting massive investment in renewable energy. In 2022, 39% of the European Union’s electricity was generated from renewable sources, a record supported by the installation of 41 GW of solar energy capacity and a growth of 16 GW of wind capacity.

Each solar panel is part of a distributed power plant puzzle through which Europe harnesses the growing amount of sunshine shimmering all over the continent. According to data from Copernicus*, in 2022, Europe experienced an average of more than 2,500 hours of sunlight - a data point that confirms how solar energy will play an increasingly important role in the years to come for the European continent's energy production system.

Adhesives and sealants in solar panels

Adhesives and sealants play a crucial role in the production of solar panels regarding their most essential components: solar cells, responsible for converting sunlight into energy. In this context, materials such as silicone sealants ensure protection against water and other environmental elements, as well as improvement of mechanical strength.

The protection and mechanical enhancement provided by adhesives and sealants extend beyond solar cells alone. Processes like backsheet lamination, diode potting in the junction box, frame bonding, and fixation of the junction box are all integral to production of solar cells. These processes contribute to a cost-efficient and use-effective long-term service of the final solar module.

An industry that strives for innovation and durability

Research and innovation in the adhesives and sealants industry provide state-of-the-art products that can meet the financial and sustainable requirements of new buildings equipped with easy and quick-to-install solar panels. Time and cost-saving strategies do not compromise the efficiency and durability of the solar panel, as adhesives and sealants' resistance acts as a shield against long-term exposure to mechanical shocks, vibrations, UV rays, heat, cold and moisture for more than 20 years.

Additionally, solar panels that fully exploit the strength and flexibility of adhesives have emerged as a solution to different building requirements. This is exemplified by adhesively bondable solar films, which have addressed structural characteristics that posed challenges for the installation of solar panels in certain contexts. Thanks to their strength and flexibility, these films adapt to any design, making them suitable for lightweight buildings, or for flat or curved roofs.

Beyond solar production

The role of adhesives and sealants as enablers in a clean energy transition is not limited to solar energy. In fact, they contribute to the production of other power sources. For example, they are used in joining motor blades in wind turbines, in constructing hydroelectric power systems to increase durability against water exposure and in enhancing the integrity of well casings and other components in geothermal power systems. Not to be overlooked is the indispensable importance of adhesives and sealants in the manufacturing and assembling of smart grid technologies. Other examples could be added to the list.

As the EU continues to support the growth of renewable energy capacity across the continent, our industry welcomes with excitement the task of growing and bonding together a vast clean energy network. This network aims to fulfil an ambitious 45% target of clean energy production set by REPowerEU by 2030.

For more about adhesives and energy production, FEICA offers comprehensive information and publications on its website.