4. 1 PV Module Design, Manufacture, Performance and Reliability
Summary / Abstract:
Thin-Film (TF) modules are diverse in their technologies, module designs and module types. We estimate a current cumulated installed TF capacity of 18 to 26 GW (4-5% of ca. 500 GW total PV installations installed worldwide as of 2018). Quality assurance at the system level becomes more and more important since the plant operators, maintenance teams and experts need the right module power (and way to determine it) to maintain high production of their/ or their clients’ installations. Evaluating the power of the PV module using stabilization procedures is still the most relevant approach necessary to raise a claim in a warranty dispute because it is the only measure at the module level for when the product warranty has expired. A review of the applicable standards (IEC 61215:2016 and IEC 61646:2008) and manufacturer prescribed stabilization procedures is presented. In August 2018 a long time field installation was set up in Berlin, Germany and first results have been gained to investigate the topic. It consists of four complete thin film module strings connected to inverters to simulate realistic operational conditions. The latest products from the manufacturers First-Solar (FS4), Avancis, Nice Solar Energy and Solar Frontier were installed. First, modules from each type were treated to stabilization procedures in accordance with the applicable standard and manufacturer instructions to determine their initial power. After initial operation the modules were dismantled in November 2018 and a transport (two weeks darkstorage) was simulated. Afterwards the modules were stabilized again and re-installed outdoors. This procedure was repeated in spring 2019. The experiment will last for at least 2 years. The results enable a discussion about the differences between the procedures especially to shed light on the somewhat controversial application by testing laboratories of the manufacturer procedures versus those prescribed in international standards.