Sandia photovoltaics degradation study receives nationwide airtime

November 1, 2023 9:33 am Published by

Sandia National Laboratories researcher Marios Theristis recently spoke to Yale Climate Connections regarding the release of his team’s five-year degradation study of 834 fielded photovoltaic (PV) modules, representing 13 module types from seven manufacturers in three climates. The researchers’ objective was to quantify degradation rates of recent, widely used PV technologies and release results publicly to inform stakeholders and best practices.

Yale Climate Connections reached out to Theristis regarding one of the team’s findings: Between 2010 and 2020, the cost of solar panels dropped 85 percent, but panel durability remained stable.

“Such dramatic cost reductions have resulted in PV being the least expensive solution for adding electrical capacity to our grid and has [led] to record growth in the PV industry, which is good news for the future. Naturally, when witnessing such sharp cost reductions, questions arise about whether the quality and durability of PV modules has suffered as new lower-cost materials and manufacturing methods are employed,” said Theristis, the Systems Long-Term Evaluations Team Lead.

“Our research revealed that despite the cost reduction and changes to the materials and designs, module durability appears not to have changed. It should be emphasized that not all solar panels share the same quality. Best practices still include independent testing of PV modules for utility-scale projects.”

The radio segment began airing Oct. 18, 2023, on more than 700 radio station frequencies.

Sandia National Laboratories’ Photovoltaic Solar Energy program operates the Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. The program applies its capabilities to help address the national and global security threats associated with climate change and meet the United States goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We continue to deploy new technologies as they become available in the market and will utilize field measurements and imaging data to identify factors driving degradation,” Theristis said.

Read the complete Yale Climate Connections interview with Sandian Marios Theristis.

Read about the Sandia research team’s degradation study in Progress in Photovoltaics.

Learn more about Yale Climate Connections and Sandia’s Photovoltaic Solar Energy program.

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