Solar module quality concerns raised in PVEL’s annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard

PVEL PV module reliability scorecard

The 6th Edition of the PV Module Reliability Scorecard from independent test lab PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) shows several concerning quality, safety trends emerging  amid the rush of new PV module technology hitting the market. Something we were prepped to hear considering our Spring cover feature, “Mounting and Cracking”.

“A diverse array of PV technologies has upended conventional R&D timelines to achieve rapid commercialization, leading PVEL to test more cell and module combinations for our 2020 Scorecard than at any point in our ten-year history,” commented Tara Doyle, Chief Commercial Officer of PVEL. “Developers and investors need independent, reliable data to balance the reliability risks inherent to new products against the promise of higher-performing, more lucrative projects.”

PVEL’s annual scorecard ranks commercially available PV modules based on results from PVEL’s PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP), a comprehensive sequence of performance and extended reliability tests that approximate the impact of decades of field exposure on PV modules. The PQP provides empirical data for PV module supplier evaluations and project-level energy yield and financial models.

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Specific concerns from the 2020 Scorecard:

  • 20% of BOMs failed at least one test.
  • Safety issues: 12% of BOMs tested failed the wet leakage test protocol
    required for IEC 61215 certification. 100% of PV modules tested by PVEL received this certification and thus should have passed this PQP characterization step.
  • Poor potential-induced degradation (PID) results: PVEL observed its highest recorded median degradation rate for PID, a preventable failure mode that is regularly described as “solved.” Results indicate that baseline anti-PID module design procedures were not followed by all PQP participants.

The Scorecard also has good news

Published in partnership with DNV GL, the Scorecard also has good news, such as eight new Top Performers compared to the 2019 Scorecard, such as first-timers Canadian Solar, Heliene, Sunergy California and returning Top Performers from previous years Panasonic, First Solar, Astronergy, HT-SAAE and Sunpower (note that participation in this testing is voluntary by the manufacturers). The rankings are based on energy yield models built using PVEL-measured PAN files for PVsyst modeling software.

Bifacial PV modules exhibited the strongest results in this new Top Performer category.

“As developers strive for increasingly cost-effective PV power plants that will operate for thirty or more years, PVEL’s independent data helps us evaluate whether projects will meet modeled lifetime expectations,”
commented Dana Olson, Global Solar Segment Leader of DNV GL. “Our analysis of PVEL’s historic PQP data demonstrates that their carefully designed program helps provide data-driven insights necessary for extending the useful life of solar assets.”

Read it in full for yourself, right here.

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