Sandia’s research in PV performance and reliability focuses on improving the ability of PV systems to consistently meet intended performance metrics under specific environmental conditions. Reliability testing at Sandia includes five primary tasks:

  • Predictive model development
  • Real-time reliability studies
  • Accelerated and diagnostic testing
  • Industry outreach and standards support
  • Mitigation and failure analysis efforts

The lab uses field operations and maintenance (O&M), degradation studies, failure data from integrators and utility partners, and detailed statistical models to develop systems-level models. These models can be applied by researchers and industry to help determine ways to overcome reliability issues and accelerate high penetration of PV technologies. Sandia also conducts real-time degradation studies such as Accelerated Life Testing and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. Sandia has also partnered with a utility to create a data-driven Reliability Block Diagram and gather O&M data to generate failure statistics. This input contributes to the Labs’ PV Reliability and Availability Predictive Model (PVRAM). Some key activities include the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative, Sandia PV Array Performance Model, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Test Centers, and PV System Modeling and Analysis.

This project aims to collect data to quantify factors affecting bifacial PV performance and thereby develop predictive models.

Degradation Assessment of Fielded CIGS Photovoltaic Arrays: In this project, conducted at the U.S. DOE Regional Test Centers (RTCs), we are establishing outdoor performance testing protocols for CIGS PV modules and developing accurate predictive performance models.

The five Regional Test Centers (RTCs) in NM, CO, FL, VT, and NV allow the PV industry to validate performance and reliability of their technologies.
 RTC Website

High-accuracy public data on PV module degradation from our Regional Test Centers, along with updated methodologies, will increase the accuracy and precision of degradation profiles calculated for representative PV hardware installed in the U.S.

Predicts how quickly corrosion will occur and what damage it does given certain environments and materials to PV modules. The project provides information to select the right materials for design or to develop materials for corrosion-resistance for a particular environment.
News Release

This project is focused on PV system functional safety, especially as it pertains to emergency personnel safety, using a science and engineering basis to characterize and address hazards.

Sandia is working to incorporate the PV Reliability Performance Model (PV-RPM) into the System Advisor Model (SAM) to improve PV performance model capabilities when considering component-level reliability.