DNV GL, a resource of independent energy experts and certification body, has released its third annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard report, presenting the most complete publicly-available comparison of PV module reliability test results.
Although the dramatic module price drop of recent years has helped to accelerate PV industry growth, concerns over cost reduction at the expense of module quality have persisted. As project financiers rely on performance prediction over several decades, it is important to understand the long-term performance of PV modules. The DNV GL Product Qualification Program (PQP) submits PV components to a unique set of tests which gives the clarity needed by module manufacturers, developers and financiers. Manufacturers that participate in DNV GL’s PQP can choose to participate in the Scorecard analysis. Currently about 70% of the largest PV manufacturers participate in the program.
Top findings in the 2017 Scorecard include:
1. Most modules tested maintain performance after reliability testing. However, the bottom quartile of most tests exhibit degradation levels that could put systems at financial risk.
2. Specific Bill of Materials (BOMs), factories, and manufacturer do matter: the same module type with different BOMs or manufacturing location often perform quite differently.
3. The size of the manufacturer is not a good indicator of performance in reliability testing. The same manufacturer may produce modules with a large spread in performance in reliability testing.
4. The number of participants in the DNV GL Product Qualification Program and therefore in the Scorecard have been steadily growing. In this edition of the Scorecard, the number of manufacturer participants jumped by 69% compared to last year.
“While a 25-year performance warranty is standard in the industry, most PV module models, with a specific Bill of Materials, have actually been in use for less than a few years, so there is a limited amount of data on how equipment holds up over time,” said DNV GL’s Jenya Meydbray, Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, Laboratory Services, and the study’s lead author. “Though there is no truer test of a module’s reliability and long term performance than decades of real-world field experience, since 2012, the DNV GL Product Qualification Program and the PV Module Reliability Scorecard’s findings have become a critical resource to an industry looking to better understand risk in a commercially reasonable timeframe.”