Clean Power

Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


Kyocera Solar Modules Show Only 8.3% Performance Degradation After 20 Years

September 27th, 2012 by  

945-watt solar panels from Kyocera that were first installed in 1992 by Hespul were recently tested by Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (which is connected to the State Solar Research Institute INES — and the certification laboratory CERTISOLIS) to determine how much their performance had degraded.

20-year-old installation of Kyocera solar modules in France still performs with a high power output level (Photo: Business Wire)

The evaluators found that, after 20 years, the panels’ power production declined by only 8.3%. The electricity generation capacity of solar panels gradually decreases with time, of course, as the sun beats down on them. But the general projection is that they degrade a lot more in 20 years than this test shows — almost all evaluations of the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of solar panels use a 20-year lifespan (which assumes they will be out of use after 20 years).

Due to the gradual nature of deterioration, this means that the panels could last many more years before becoming useless.

Further illustrating their high quality and reliability, Kyocera’s solar modules were the first in the world to be certified by TUV Rheinland’s Long-Term Sequential TestTUV is an organization that provides technical, safety, and quality certification services.

Source: Business Wire

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • yazriel

    Are modern panels more or less reliable ???

    20 yrs ago, pv was a premium, high precision product…
    Now, it a volume commodity….

    Does anyone have any pointers to actual technical data ??

    p.s. still, this reliable is true-ly amazing

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’m going to bet that the connectors are better. Edge laminination might be.

      PV silicon panels are basicially a thin sheet of rock with a protective sheet of glass in front of it. Failure, from what I’ve seen comes from the connectors breaking/corroding and edges delaminating and letting moisture in.

      I would like to know what is happening chemically/physically to drop performance.

  • It is now fairly realistic to expect a 40-year service life (with >80% rated power) from quality crystalline panels. New panels are more advanced, contain developments against typical failures.

  • José Antonio Pérez

    Here you can find additional test results from 30 year old solar panels and a video testing one PV module from the 70’s

    • Bob_Wallace

      Actually 40 years (1972) and still cranking out higher than 80% of rated value.

      Had you set up your house with these panels in 1972 you would have paid nothing for electricity for the last 20 years…

  • Bob_Wallace

    Countries that install a lot of PV solar are going to enjoy a significant economic advantage. After those panels are paid off they will then enjoy decades of almost free electricity.

    Same is true of wind turbines. The first generation turbines that were installed at Altamont Pass are just now being replaced after 30 years. Twenty years of cheap electricity followed by another decade of almost free electricity. Newer turbines, especially those without gear trains should last a lot longer than 30 years.

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