Buyers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and solar PV manufacturers alike have a vested interest in the quality and the expected lifetime of a PV module. Rooftop modules will be exposed to a variety of temperatures and weather conditions throughout their lifetimes, including extreme temperature fluctuations and precipitation. Current certification testing is done on a pass/fail basis, which means consumers lack the ability to compare the relative durability between different module manufacturers and designs.
Therefore, Europe’s largest solar research institute, Fraunhofer ISE, and its U.S. partner, Fraunhofer CSE, started to test solar module durability in 2013 and introduced a test protocol for examining and comparing the durability of different module designs. The PV Durability Initiative creates an open-source durability assessment protocol that will support an international industry standard.
Overall, the PV Durability Initiative has tested ten modules from nine companies. Solar PV module manufacturers could decide to stay anonymous or disclose their name and test findings. Results of the latest round of testing have recently been published in the August issue of the PV Tech blog and in a September issue of the PV Tech journal.