IEA publishes new reports on PV performance and reliability

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The International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power System Programme (IEA PVPS) on Monday published a series of reports on the quality and reliability of PV systems following four years of research on the subject.

The three IEA reports that have so far been published — out of a total of five planned reports — focus on PV performance and the impact of PV module failure of both crystalline silicon and thin-film technologies. "They show that the question of quality and reliability can be managed in a scientific way and that in recent years much progress has been made, in parallel with the growth of the PV markets and industry," the IEA PVPS said in a statement.

The first of the three reports focuses on the cause of failure of PV modules, illustrating that the degradation rate for crystalline silicon PV modules could be improved with greater understanding of the technical challenges and proposes new test methods for detection of failure in the field.

The second report focuses on the performances of thin-film technologies and the major specific differences for performance measurement, while the third report details good practices for monitoring and performance analysis and provides guidelines to improve PV systems’ performances.

Two additional reports, to be published in the coming months, focus on the analysis of PV systems long-term performance and the degradation behavior of PV modules in accelerated stress conditions. IEA PVPS said these reports would complement and close the first phase of the research program "with a consistent and complete set of scientific data that will help industries and financing bodies to better assess the real performance situation of PV systems today and in the near future."

The reports summarize the results of four years of PV systems performance and reliability research by the IEA PVPS program’s Task 13 section, which examined several aspects of PV performance and reliability as well as the main aspects of quality-oriented activities in the PV sector.

Quality and reliability of PV systems will be a main topic of discussions at this year’s Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich. While the PV market has grown significantly in the last five years, the question of PV systems performance has remained central to the industry in terms of lowering the cost of PV electricity as well as the cost of financing PV installations.

The IEA PVPS is one of the collaborative R&D Agreements established within the IEA and has overseen a number of joint projects in the application of photovoltaic conversion of solar energy into electricity. Task 13 was established in 2010 as part of the IEA PVPS program in order to continue the research that began with the former Task 2 section. The Task program is co-managed by German organizations TÜV Rheinland and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE.