PV module degradation mechanisms at a glance


Researchers from several universities and research institutes have conducted a comprehensive review of all types of solar module failure. They described all degradation mechanisms affecting solar cells and modules, with the aim of summarizing current knowledge about PV system reliability.

“We intend this article to be a concise and up-to-date introduction to this topic for the general reader and specifically for newcomers into the PV reliability engineering domain,” they said.

They divided the research into three sections: a summary of reliability metrics, a review of all factors affecting PV module performance, and a presentation of all degradation and failure modes in panel components. They also reviewed all mainstream crystalline silicon and thin-film PV technologies, including perovskite cells and organic solar cells, while providing general definitions for reliability, quality and testing standards.

They categorized the primary forms of stress for solar modules according to irradiance, temperature, moisture, mechanical stress, soiling and chemicals.

“Many PV technologies consist of similar architectures in terms of the module materials and components,” the scientists said. “These elements include the module packaging, internal electrical circuit, bypass diodes, junction boxes, wiring and connectors, and frames.”

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The study also presents some of the most common strategies that are implemented to mitigate module failures at different levels.

“Through extensive testing and failure analysis, researchers now have a much better overview of stressors and their impact on long term stability,” said the research group.

The researchers published “Review of degradation and failure phenomena in photovoltaic modules” in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review. The team includes academics from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Twente in the Netherlands, Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL),the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU in Spain, the University of Lisbon in Portugal, and the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom.

“A future research gap is to consider the impact of performance, cost and reliability on the PV module sustainability,” said the researchers.

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