The 2022 PV Module Reliability Scorecard, published today by PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), names 122 models of PV modules from 25 manufacturers as Top Performers in PVEL’s testing. PVEL is the leading independent test lab for the downstream solar and energy storage industry.
Launched in 2014 and now in its 8th Edition, the Scorecard summarizes results from the PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP), a testing regime that PVEL established in 2012 to provide empirical data for PV module benchmarking and project-level energy yield and financial models.
Tristan Erion-Lorico, PVEL Vice President of sales and marketing, told pv magazine that as the industry matures, developers, investors and insurance companies have realized that there can be a significant difference between modules that are certified and those that go through the Product Qualification Program. Customers not only in US markets but around the world are requiring a report. “It unlocks a significant portion of the market,” said Erion-Lorico.
“The 2022 PV Module Reliability Scorecard is a testament to the resilience of an industry that is relentlessly pursuing the deployment of reliable solar power – no matter what obstacles arise. We know that the world is counting on us for the transition to clean energy. At PVEL, we create the data that matters for a greener future, and we’re pleased to report that results have improved across many of our tests.” Jenya Meydbray, PVEL CEO
Last year was the first time that the report was online-only, and 20,000 individuals from more than 100 different countries downloaded the the scorecard.
“People are using our data to help them determine manufacturers and modules that they should consider for the projects,” Erion-Lorico said. “It’s beneficial to the manufacturers who are in it because they are reaching 20,000 potential customers.”
Looking back over the eight years of PQP testing, Erion-Lorico noted that one of the biggest changes seen this year is the varying sizes of the modules and the wide range of power classes of modules.
This year a record of 12 manufacturers had one or more model types that were Top Performers in every reliability test – and six of these model types were also Top Performers in energy yield (PAN) performance. Top Performers came from four different designs, different cells sizes and from the US, China, Malaysia, and Thailand. Interestingly, all PAN Top Performers were bifacial modules.
“This is a good news story. No matter what they’re producing, they’re able to achieve excellent results that go across all tests,” said Erion-Lorico, emphasizing that it’s a sign of maturity in the industry.
The results of the Thermal Cycling and Damp Heat tests are good examples of the advancements being made in the industry. This year’s Thermal Cycling results are another good news story–they are the best in PVEL’s history. About 90% of modules tested degraded by less than 2%. As Erion-Lorico pointed out, this is basically a test of solder fatigue, which they are seeing much less of that, indicating the precision that has been achieved in this step of the manufacturing process.
Damp Heat testing, however, showed a wide range of performance with only half of test modules achieving top-performing results after the full test sequence, and one module degraded by 54%, the worst Damp Heat result in PVEL history. This is a test of the module’s lamination, Erion-Lorico said, noting that in the past, when mono PERC became more widely used there was a destabilization issue where there were high amounts of power loss.
In this year’s test, PVEL saw a 67% decrease in bill of materials (BOM) requiring boron-oxygen (BO) stabilization: Only 23% of top-performing BOMs required BO stabilization to achieve <2% degradation versus 70% in 2021. They’re not seeing that same level of destabilization but now the poor results are more related to corrosion, which could be a by-product of gallium dopant or could be related to metallization of cells, according to Erion-Lorico.
“Manufacturers overcame significant challenges in the last year, and compared to previous Scorecards, the 2022 results show that module technology is improving overall,” noted Erion-Lorico. “PVEL’s Scorecard showcases impressive examples of product performance and reliability across our rigorous testing program, allowing buyers to easily identify high-quality modules.”
PVEL generally releases new tests every two years as new failure modes evolve. For example, the Light and Elevated Temperature-Induced Degradation (LETID) test was added in 2018 to test for failure of what was mostly PERC cells. PVEL also recently added the hail stress sequence because hail became a significant issue in recent years.
“As we see more n-type modules, TopCon and heterojunction modules, we might see failure modes specific to those module types. It’s important that the tests are relevant for the products being shipped,” said Erion-Lorico.
Participation in PVEL’s PQP and Scorecard is voluntary for manufacturers and only top-performing module model types are named in the Scorecard. To date, PVEL has tested over 500 BOMs from more than 50 manufacturers for the PV Module PQP. The Scorecard is publicly accessible in an interactive digital format, with a searchable database of Top Performing modules at. A downloadable PDF summary is also available.
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