35 years of photovoltaics: Analysis of the TISO-10-kW solar plant, lessons learnt in safety and performance-Part 2

The TISO-10-kW plant, installed in Lugano (Switzerland) in 1982, is the first grid-connected PV plant in Europe. In a joint publication (part 1), we presented the results of the electrical characterization performed in 2017-after 35 years of operation-of the 288 Arco Solar modules constituting the plant. Power degradation rates were different among modules and two groups could clearly be distinguished: group 1, with a remarkably low mean degradation rate of -0.2% per year, and group 2, with a mean degradation of -0.69% per year. After 35 in a temperate climate, approximately 70% of the modules (considering a +/- 3% measurement uncertainty) still exhibit a performance higher than 80% of their initial value. In this paper, when possible, we attempt at correlating module performance losses to specific failure mechanisms. For this sake, an extensive characterization of the modules was performed using visual inspection, IV curve measurements, electroluminescence, and infrared imaging. We remarkably find that module degradation rates are highly correlated to the aging pattern of the encapsulants used in module manufacturing. In particular, a specific formulation of the encapsulant (PVB), which was used only in a minority of the modules (approximately 10%), leads to degradation rates of -0.2% per year, which corresponds to a loss in performance below 10% over 35 years. Potential safety threats are also investigated, by measuring the frame continuity, the functionality of the bypass diodes, and the module insulation. Finally, we discuss how the analysis of a 35-year-old PV module technology could benefit the industry in order to target PV module lifetimes of 40+ years.

Published in:
Progress In Photovoltaics, 27, 9, 760-778
Sep 01 2019
Hoboken, WILEY

 Record created 2019-08-29, last modified 2020-10-29

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