PV Module Test Results Show Overall Improvement, Though Significant Failures Persist

 

DNV GL, a resource of independent energy experts and certification body, recently published its fourth annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard report, a comprehensive comparison of PV module reliability test results.

This year’s report finds that the reliability and durability of modules submitted to DNV GL for testing for the 2018 PV Module Reliability Scorecard generally improved in several of the test categories. However, in one of the test categories — damp heat — performance decreased. With 22% of manufacturers experiencing at least one failure in overall testing, buyers know that being conscious of the Bill of Materials (BOM), which identifies specific models as Top Performers, is crucial.

The report states that for 2018, global annual solar installations are expected to surpass 100 GW. This growth in solar installations is in part driven by new technology, which can lead to higher gains and lower costs of PV products. With new modules available on the solar market, rigorous testing demonstrating the reliability and durability of the latest cutting-edge technology is vital.

The annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard reports the results of DNV GL’s PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP). The PQP and resulting scorecard are voluntary programs that allow PV module manufacturers to demonstrate the reliability and durability of their products to the global industry and provide PV equipment buyers and power plant investors with independent and consistent module reliability data.

In the six years since the PV Module Product Qualification Program started, DNV GL has tested more than 300 BOMs for more than 50 manufacturers including nine of the top ten global module manufacturers and more than 70% of the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance “Tier 1” manufacturers list.

“The scorecard gives top performing PV module manufacturers an opportunity to showcase their module models which perform well in testing,” said the study’s lead author, Tara Doyle. “The scorecard also gives PV plant developers and investors insight into manufacturers capable of producing quality products as well as the module models that perform well.  The best way to check quality is by verifying the factory and bill of materials for the particular models that appear as Top Performers.”

Results

The PV Module Reliability Scorecard summarizes the last 18 months of PQP testing results. Key findings from the 2018 PV Module Reliability Scorecard include:

  • An overall improvement in test results compared to 2017
  • 9% of BOMs submitted failed one or more of the test criteria
  • 12% of model types failed one or more of the test criteria
  • 22% of manufacturers had at least one failure according to the test criteria
  • Failure rates were not linked to the geographic location of the factory or size of the manufacturer

A new feature in this year’s scorecard is the introduction of a “Historical Scorecard.” This recognizes manufacturers that have been consistently ranked among the Top Performers over the last four previous scorecard editions and highlights those manufacturers who are new to the market, newly participating in the PQP and scorecard, or newly named Top Performer in 2018.

“We know that the manufacturers who participate in our Product Qualification Program prioritize product quality and reliability, and the robust evaluation of the PQP is helping drive them to new levels. But our test results show that, no matter who the manufacturer, buyers need to be aware of the specific BOM specification of their PV module purchases. Buyers should also be aware that not all manufacturers have their modules tested for quality and reliability. Buying untested modules is a big risk that could have major repercussions for their projects,” said Ditlev Engel, CEO at DNV GL Energy.

 

 

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