As module technologies undergo changes, PVEL analysts explain that real-world data that proves the long-term reliability of many recent PV module designs does not exist today. The above chart outlines PV module defects shown in the report. (Source: PVEL)
- PVEL’s latest report has included Top Performer category for modeled performance wherein bifacial modules take the cake
- Some manufacturers are compromising on minimum safety and quality standards in order to be the first ones to bring new technologies to the market
- New technologies in modules now line the shelves of manufacturers providing a variety to downstream players to choose from
The 6th edition of the PV Module Reliability Scorecard by independent downstream test lab PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) in partnership with DNV GL is out. It has for the first time included ‘first-of-their-kind’ Top Performer designations for modeled performance, basis energy yield modules and figured bifacial PV modules as exhibiting the strongest results in this category.
Analysts observed 3 important trends in PV module technology for downstream players :
- PERC cells have replaced aluminum back surface field (Al-BSF) cells,
- manufacturers are now using cells with up to 4 times more busbars than in 2012, new types of interconnect wires, various wafer sizes and half-cut or smaller cells, and
- new module designs with thinner frames, glass-glass, bifacial and light-redirecting films (LRF).
This competition with peers to bring in innovative PV cell and module technologies to the market is making some manufacturers overlook minimum safety and quality.
While 22 companies were top performers in the 2020 PV Module Reliability Scorecard, only Jinko and Trina have been included in this list constantly (see graph).
In its 2020 PV Module Reliability Scorecard, PVEL scored modules based on its PV Module Product Qualification program (PQP) and found several ‘concerning’ trends. At least 20% of the bills of materials (BOM) failed one test, it found. Analysts also share that 12% of the BOMs failed the wet leakage test protocol, an important safety test, required for IEC 61215 certification. This means that 100% of the modules tested should have cleared the test but some of these didn’t despite the certification.
Another major observation in the report is that baseline anti-PID module design procedures were not followed by all PQP participants as PVEL observed its highest recorded median degradation rate for potential-induced degradation (PID) which it says is a preventable failure mode that companies regularly describe as solved.
“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 10-year history,” said Chief Commercial Officer of PVEL, Tara Doyle. “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.”
The PVEL and DNV GL report can be downloaded for free from PVEL’s website.