Image Credit: GTM Research

Comparing Solar PV Module Reliability Performance

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Around two-thirds of all of the installed solar photovoltaic modules in the world — cumulatively around 130 GW — were produced in the last three years. Owing to the significant price reductions seen during this time, questions have been raised in the industry about the quality and long-term performance of these modules.

To address this question, GTM Research and PV Evolution Labs (now DNV GL), recently completed and released a new report on the subject. Titled PV Module Reliability Scorecard 2014, the report is the first-of-its-kind — comparing and identifying module manufacturers’ reliability performance as gauged via a standardized accelerated life testing program.

Image Credit: GTM Research
Image Credit: GTM Research

According to GTM Research and PV Evolution Labs, the “Scorecard” will help PV project developers, EPCs, financial investors, and asset managers make smart decisions in the “evaluation of leading module manufacturers and is a critical tool for quality-backed procurement strategies.”

Greentech Media provides more:

GTM Research compiled data from DNV GL’s highly accelerated life testing (HALT) on major global PV module manufacturers. Participating manufacturers’ modules were subject to rigorous tests designed to mimic real-world environmental stresses and identify potential long-term quality issues and failure modes. The Scorecard goes beyond standard module qualification and certification tests, identifying the spectrum of performance differences across the module vendor landscape.

In the Scorecard, GTM Research found that module vendors performed relatively well across all metrics, with a few exceptions on specific tests. However, “module reliability is not necessarily a consistent quality. Of all vendors analyzed, only one company consistently ranked within the Performance Leaders group for all test regimens,” wrote the report author, GTM Research solar analyst Jade Jones.


“While all modules met the regulatory UL requirements, long-term, real-world performance is not simply pass/fail. More robust module designs were clearly identified,” stated Jenya Meydbray, head of module and inverter testing at DNV GL and former PVEL CEO.

The tests used by the researchers in the Scorecard program included “extended thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity-freeze, dynamic mechanical load, and potential induced degradation for positively and negatively biased modules.”

The findings make it rather clear that matching module quality characteristics with climate where the project is located is of high importance.

Or, as Jones wrote: “Coupling a module’s performance capabilities with suitable install environments can prove valuable for ensuring long-term project viability.”

Sounds about right.

You can find the report here.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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