Potential induced degradation (PID) study of fresh and accelerated stress tested photovoltaic modules

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Infant mortality rate of field deployed photovoltaic (PV) modules may be expected to be higher than that estimated by standard qualification tests. The reason for increased failure rates may be

Infant mortality rate of field deployed photovoltaic (PV) modules may be expected to be higher than that estimated by standard qualification tests. The reason for increased failure rates may be attributed to the high system voltages. High voltages (HV) in grid connected modules induce additional stress factors that cause new degradation mechanisms. These new degradation mechanisms are not recognized by qualification stress tests. To study and model the effect of high system voltages, recently, potential induced degradation (PID) test method has been introduced. Using PID studies, it has been reported that high voltage failure rates are essentially due to increased leakage currents from active semiconducting layer to the grounded module frame, through encapsulant and/or glass. This project involved designing and commissioning of a new PID test bed at Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (PRL) of Arizona State University (ASU) to study the mechanisms of HV induced degradation. In this study, PID stress tests have been performed on accelerated stress modules, in addition to fresh modules of crystalline silicon technology. Accelerated stressing includes thermal cycling (TC200 cycles) and damp heat (1000 hours) tests as per IEC 61215. Failure rates in field deployed modules that are exposed to long term weather conditions are better simulated by conducting HV tests on prior accelerated stress tested modules. The PID testing was performed in 3 phases on a set of 5 mono crystalline silicon modules. In Phase-I of PID test, a positive bias of +600 V was applied, between shorted leads and frame of each module, on 3 modules with conducting carbon coating on glass superstrate. The 3 module set was comprised of: 1 fresh control, TC200 and DH1000. The PID test was conducted in an environmental chamber by stressing the modules at 85°C, for 35 hours with an intermittent evaluation for Arrhenius effects. In the Phase-II, a negative bias of -600 V was applied on a set of 3 modules in the chamber as defined above. The 3 module set in phase-II was comprised of: control module from phase-I, TC200 and DH1000. In the Phase-III, the same set of 3 modules which were used in the phase-II again subjected to +600 V bias to observe the recovery of lost power during the Phase-II. Electrical performance, infrared (IR) and electroluminescence (EL) were done prior and post PID testing. It was observed that high voltage positive bias in the first phase resulted in little
o power loss, high voltage negative bias in the second phase caused significant power loss and the high voltage positive bias in the third phase resulted in major recovery of lost power.