Predicting Solar PV module tech growth over 20-50 year span.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 26, 2024
Forecasting the performance of new Solar PV module technologies over 20, 30, and 50 years.jpegOrginal image from:

Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is advancing rapidly, with new module designs and materials constantly emerging. As the industry grows, the need for accurate forecasting of the performance and durability of these new technologies becomes increasingly important. Testing new modules is essential for predicting their long-term reliability, but traditional methods may not always provide accurate insights due to the rapid pace of innovation in the industry.

The Role of DuraMAT Consortium in Forecasting Solar PV Module Performance

The Durable Module Materials (DuraMAT) Consortium, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is at the forefront of developing reliable forecasting strategies for new PV module technologies. By combining sophisticated testing methods and data analysis with the fundamentals of physics, the consortium aims to predict the long-term reliability of innovative module designs.

The DuraMAT Consortium has identified key factors impacting module performance, including cell cracks, high-efficiency modules, materials degradation, recycling, UV-induced degradation, and glass fracture mechanics. By collaborating with a 22-member solar industry board, the consortium provides valuable insights and recommendations to support the industry’s transition to zero-carbon electricity generation.

Forecasting Reliability with New Approaches

In 2023, DuraMAT introduced a novel focus on reliability forecasting, moving away from traditional field observations to fundamental research questions about material behavior over time. By awarding projects that address factors like UV-induced degradation and glass fracture mechanics, the consortium aims to enhance the industry’s understanding of module performance and degradation mechanisms.

DuraMAT’s approach involves quantitative modeling, rapid validation, and the development of open-source software and datasets accessible through the DuraMAT Data Hub. By leveraging this innovative methodology, the consortium aims to accelerate the development of durable and reliable PV modules that meet the industry’s evolving needs.

Addressing Emerging Challenges in Solar PV Technology

Two critical degradation mechanisms explored by DuraMAT researchers in 2023 are cell cracking and UV-induced degradation. The findings suggest that newer module designs incorporating features like multiple busbars, half-cut cells, and glass-glass encapsulation may mitigate the impact of cell cracks and UV exposure, enhancing module performance and durability.

By quantifying UV-induced degradation in high-efficiency modules and sharing insights through the DuraMAT Annual Report, the consortium aims to inform industry stakeholders about potential challenges and opportunities in adopting new technologies. Through ongoing research and collaboration, DuraMAT contributes to the advancement of reliable and sustainable solar PV solutions.

Empowering Future PV Scientists with DuraMAT

Looking ahead, the DuraMAT Consortium continues to support early career scientists through the DuraMAT Early Career Scientists (DECS) program. By fostering collaboration, offering professional development opportunities, and encouraging research presentations, DECS participants contribute to the consortium’s mission of driving innovation and reliability in the solar PV industry.

As the solar industry evolves and expands, the insights and recommendations generated by the DuraMAT Consortium play a crucial role in guiding manufacturers, policymakers, and consumers towards a more sustainable energy future. By leveraging cutting-edge research and collaboration, DuraMAT remains at the forefront of forecasting the performance of new solar PV module technologies for the next 20, 30, and 50 years.

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