Mindelheim, Germany - BBG GmbH & Co. KG, which makes moulds, machinery and polyurethane systems, is expanding into the solar panel industry. The Mindelheim-based company has developed a polyurethane frame module for photovoltaic elements that, it claims, helps to increase the energy yield of such solar energy systems and also makes installation simpler. BBG has carried out the project for Systaic AG, a Düsseldorf-based supplier of solar systems. The German PU firm is also to manufacture an initial run of around 6500 of these modules - also referred to as "energy units" - in a make-to-order process, starting this autumn. Then in early 2008, BBG will deliver the equipment required for large-scale production to Webasto Solar GmbH at Landsberg/Lech, who will manufacture these modules. BBG said in its 6 Sept announcement that Webasto is scheduled to produce up to 260 000 energy units a year from 2008 onwards, corresponding to an annual power capacity of 36 MW.Webasto Solar GmbH is a joint venture of Webasto AG of Stockdorf, Germany, and Systaic AG of Düsseldorf, Germany, whose subsidiaries are responsible for distribution, installation, maintenance and customer service.Standard photovoltaic modules are 1050 by 1050 mm square, with 36 silicon cells, which are referred to as wafers. BBG says its polyurethane frame "offers a series of benefits over conventional enclosures, most of which are made of aluminium." The frame has a novel "click & connect" mounting system, which has been integrated so that installers can components on roofs in a simpler, much faster fashion, without cables and bolts. The "Solar PUR Flush" technology from BBG also gives a higher energy yields. The PUR frame is flush with the surface of the photovoltaic element so leaves, dirt and winter snow will not stick to the edges of the frame. Previously, as soon as a third of the surface of one of the 36 wafers was soiled, the whole array of six silicon cells, would be switched off. For conventional photovoltaic modules, contamination often results in a substantially lower energy yield than would be feasible from a technological point of view."