With solar photovoltaic producers under pressure to continue dropping prices, an international panel is working on standards to help buyers assess PV systems’ long-term reliability.
“Utility-scale solar power is growing quickly in the United States,” Renewable Energy World reports. “But increasingly, investors want assurance of the reliability of the panels, modules, and complete systems before they invest tens of millions of dollars in the projects.” When it first began meeting in 2011, the International PV Quality Assurance Task Force focused on manufacturing consistency, thermal and mechanical fatigue, durability to ultraviolet light, humidity, temperature, and voltage, and issues related to diodes, shading, and reverse bias.
“The first leg of the stool in assuring reliability is a durable design, one that holds up to its intended application, whether that is in the deserts of the American Southwest or in a snowy mountain range,” writes NREL Public Affairs Officer Bill Scanlon.
“To that end, qualification tests should not only seek to identify design flaws that can lead to early failure, but also reveal the probability of components wearing out over time in different climates,” he notes. “If manufacturers find that providing adequate durability in high desert temperatures adds cost, the manufacturer may choose to offer a less expensive product for cooler climates and a more expensive product for hotter climates.”