The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE in Boston and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg released their first solar panel durability report and placed the SunPower E20 model first in their PV Durability Initiative (PVDI).
“The potential for PV modules to fail in advance of their intended service life is a key factor that increases the perceived risk, and therefore the cost, of funding PV installations,” explains Geoffrey Kinsey, Director of PV Technologies at Fraunhofer CSE. “PVDI addresses this issue.”
How does it work?
PVDI rates PV modules on a scale of zero to five relative to their likelihood to perform reliably with regard to the performed tests. Modules are subjected to accelerated stress testing intended to approach the wear-out regime for a given set of environmental conditions. The modules are rated for both performance and safety.
In parallel with the accelerated tests, modules are subjected to long-term outdoor exposure; the correlation between the accelerated tests and operation in the field will be determined over time. The accelerated test component in PVDI is an extension of familiar reliability stress tests and includes combined effects. Where possible, the program requires that commercial modules be purchased on the open market, to avoid selection bias.
This first report covered tests of five of 2012’s top eight crystalline silicon PV modules, from among SunPower (SPWR), Suntech (STP), Yingli (YGE), Trina (TSL), Canadian Solar (CSIQ), Sharp (SHCAY), Hanwha SolarOne (HSOL), and Kyocera (KYO).
The results showed “a substantial spread in thermal cycling durability, while all tested module types proved very good stability in the damp heat/UV test sequence.” And though some participants wanted to remain anonymous, all the data acquired under the PVDI will continue to be used to provide a comprehensive comparison in years to come.