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Photovoltaic modules: effect of tilt angle on soiling

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Photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the next generation's renewable energy sources for our world energy demand. PV modules are highly reliable. However, in polluted environments, over time, they will collect grime and dust. There are also limited field data

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are one of the next generation's renewable energy sources for our world energy demand. PV modules are highly reliable. However, in polluted environments, over time, they will collect grime and dust. There are also limited field data studies about soiling losses on PV modules. The study showed how important it is to investigate the effect of tilt angle on soiling. The study includes two sets of mini-modules. Each set has 9 PV modules tilted at 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 23, 30, 33 and 40°. The first set called "Cleaned" was cleaned every other day. The second set called "Soiled" was never cleaned after the first day. The short circuit current, a measure of irradiance, and module temperature was monitored and recorded every two minutes over three months (January-March 2011). The data were analyzed to investigate the effect of tilt angle on daily and monthly soiling, and hence transmitted solar insolation and energy production by PV modules. The study shows that during the period of January through March 2011 there was an average loss due to soiling of approximately 2.02% for 0° tilt angle. Modules at tilt anlges 23° and 33° also have some insolation losses but do not come close to the module at 0° tilt angle. Tilt anlge 23° has approximately 1.05% monthly insolation loss, and 33° tilt angle has an insolation loss of approximately 0.96%. The soiling effect is present at any tilt angle, but the magnitude is evident: the flatter the solar module is placed the more energy it will lose.

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2011

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Building applied and back insulated photovoltaic modules: thermal models

Description

Building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) is a major application sector for photovoltaics (PV). Due to the negative temperature coefficient of power output, the performance of a PV module decreases as the temperature of the module increases. In hot climatic conditions, such

Building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) is a major application sector for photovoltaics (PV). Due to the negative temperature coefficient of power output, the performance of a PV module decreases as the temperature of the module increases. In hot climatic conditions, such as the summer in Arizona, the operating temperature of a BAPV module can reach as high as 90°C. Considering a typical 0.5%/°C power drop for crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules, a performance decrease of approximately 30% would be expected during peak summer temperatures due to the difference between rated temperature (25°C) and operating temperature (~90°C) of the modules. Also, in a worst-case scenario, such as partial shading of the PV cells of air gap-free BAPV modules, some of the components could attain temperatures that would be high enough to compromise the safety and functionality requirements of the module and its components. Based on the temperature and weather data collected over a year in Arizona, a mathematical thermal model has been developed and presented in this paper to predict module temperature for five different air gaps (0", 1", 2", 3", and 4"). For comparison, modules with a thermally-insulated (R30) back were evaluated to determine the worst-case scenario. This thesis also provides key technical details related to the specially-built, simulated rooftop structure; the mounting configuration of the PV modules on the rooftop structure; the LabVIEW program that was developed for data acquisition and the MATLAB program for developing the thermal models. In order to address the safety issue, temperature test results (obtained in accordance with IEC 61730-2 and UL 1703 safety standards) are presented and analyzed for nine different components of a PV module, i.e., the front glass, substrate/backsheet (polymer), PV cell, j-box ambient, j-box surface, positive terminal, backsheet inside j-box, field wiring, and diode. The temperature test results obtained for about 140 crystalline silicon modules from a large number of manufacturers who tested modules between 2006 and 2009 at ASU/TÜV-PTL were analyzed and presented in this paper under three test conditions, i.e., short-circuit, open-circuit, and short-circuit and shaded. Also, the nominal operating cell temperatures (NOCTs) of the BAPV modules and insulated-back PV modules are presented in this paper for use by BAPV module designers and installers.

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2010

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26+ year old photovoltaic power plant: degradation and reliability evaluation of crystalline silicon modules - north array

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The object of this study was a 26 year old residential Photovoltaic (PV) monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) power plant, called Solar One, built by developer John F. Long in Phoenix, Arizona (a hot-dry field condition). The task for Arizona State University

The object of this study was a 26 year old residential Photovoltaic (PV) monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) power plant, called Solar One, built by developer John F. Long in Phoenix, Arizona (a hot-dry field condition). The task for Arizona State University Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (ASU-PRL) graduate students was to evaluate the power plant through visual inspection, electrical performance, and infrared thermography. The purpose of this evaluation was to measure and understand the extent of degradation to the system along with the identification of the failure modes in this hot-dry climatic condition. This 4000 module bipolar system was originally installed with a 200 kW DC output of PV array (17 degree fixed tilt) and an AC output of 175 kVA. The system was shown to degrade approximately at a rate of 2.3% per year with no apparent potential induced degradation (PID) effect. The power plant is made of two arrays, the north array and the south array. Due to a limited time frame to execute this large project, this work was performed by two masters students (Jonathan Belmont and Kolapo Olakonu) and the test results are presented in two masters theses. This thesis presents the results obtained on the north array and the other thesis presents the results obtained on the south array. The resulting study showed that PV module design, array configuration, vandalism, installation methods and Arizona environmental conditions have had an effect on this system's longevity and reliability. Ultimately, encapsulation browning, higher series resistance (potentially due to solder bond fatigue) and non-cell interconnect ribbon breakages outside the modules were determined to be the primary causes for the power loss.

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2013

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Potential induced degradation (PID) of pre-stressed photovoltaic modules: effect of glass surface conductivity disruption

Description

Potential induced degradation (PID) due to high system voltages is one of the major degradation mechanisms in photovoltaic (PV) modules, adversely affecting their performance due to the combined effects of the following factors: system voltage, superstrate/glass surface conductivity, encapsulant conductivity,

Potential induced degradation (PID) due to high system voltages is one of the major degradation mechanisms in photovoltaic (PV) modules, adversely affecting their performance due to the combined effects of the following factors: system voltage, superstrate/glass surface conductivity, encapsulant conductivity, silicon nitride anti-reflection coating property and interface property (glass/encapsulant; encapsulant/cell; encapsulant/backsheet). Previous studies carried out at ASU's Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (ASU-PRL) showed that only negative voltage bias (positive grounded systems) adversely affects the performance of commonly available crystalline silicon modules. In previous studies, the surface conductivity of the glass surface was obtained using either conductive carbon layer extending from the glass surface to the frame or humidity inside an environmental chamber. This thesis investigates the influence of glass surface conductivity disruption on PV modules. In this study, conductive carbon was applied only on the module's glass surface without extending to the frame and the surface conductivity was disrupted (no carbon layer) at 2cm distance from the periphery of frame inner edges. This study was carried out under dry heat at two different temperatures (60 °C and 85 °C) and three different negative bias voltages (-300V, -400V, and -600V). To replicate closeness to the field conditions, half of the selected modules were pre-stressed under damp heat for 1000 hours (DH 1000) and the remaining half under 200 hours of thermal cycling (TC 200). When the surface continuity was disrupted by maintaining a 2 cm gap from the frame to the edge of the conductive layer, as demonstrated in this study, the degradation was found to be absent or negligibly small even after 35 hours of negative bias at elevated temperatures. This preliminary study appears to indicate that the modules could become immune to PID losses if the continuity of the glass surface conductivity is disrupted at the inside boundary of the frame. The surface conductivity of the glass, due to water layer formation in a humid condition, close to the frame could be disrupted just by applying a water repelling (hydrophobic) but high transmittance surface coating (such as Teflon) or modifying the frame/glass edges with water repellent properties.

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2012

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Characterization and analysis of long term field aged photovoltaic modules and encapsulant materials

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Photovoltaic (PV) module degradation is a well-known issue, however understanding the mechanistic pathways in which modules degrade is still a major task for the PV industry. In order to study the mechanisms responsible for PV module degradation, the effects of

Photovoltaic (PV) module degradation is a well-known issue, however understanding the mechanistic pathways in which modules degrade is still a major task for the PV industry. In order to study the mechanisms responsible for PV module degradation, the effects of these degradation mechanisms must be quantitatively measured to determine the severity of each degradation mode. In this thesis multiple modules from three climate zones (Arizona, California and Colorado) were investigated for a single module glass/polymer construction (Siemens M55) to determine the degree to which they had degraded, and the main factors that contributed to that degradation. To explain the loss in power, various nondestructive and destructive techniques were used to indicate possible causes of loss in performance. This is a two-part thesis. Part 1 presents non-destructive test results and analysis and Part 2 presents destructive test results and analysis.

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2015

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Accelerated UV Testing and Characterization of PV Modules with UV-cut and UV-pass EVA Encapsulants

Description

Encapsulant is a key packaging component of photovoltaic (PV) modules, which protects the solar cell from physical, environmental and electrical damages. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is one of the major encapsulant materials used in the PV industry. This work focuses on

Encapsulant is a key packaging component of photovoltaic (PV) modules, which protects the solar cell from physical, environmental and electrical damages. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is one of the major encapsulant materials used in the PV industry. This work focuses on indoor accelerated ultraviolet (UV) stress testing and characterization to investigate the EVA discoloration and delamination in PV modules by using various non-destructive characterization techniques, including current-voltage (IV) measurements, UV fluorescence (UVf) and colorimetry measurements. Mini-modules with glass/EVA/cell/EVA/backsheet construction were fabricated in the laboratory with two types of EVA, UV-cut EVA (UVC) and UV-pass EVA (UVP).

The accelerated UV testing was performed in a UV chamber equipped with UV lights at an ambient temperature of 50°C, little or no humidity and total UV dosage of 400 kWh/m2. The mini-modules were maintained at three different temperatures through UV light heating by placing different thickness of thermal insulation sheets over the backsheet. Also, prior to thermal insulation sheet placement, the backsheet and laminate edges were fully covered with aluminum tape to prevent oxygen diffusion into the module and hence the photobleaching reaction.

The characterization results showed that mini-modules with UV-cut EVA suffered from discoloration while the modules with UV-pass EVA suffered from delamination. UVf imaging technique has the capability to identify the discoloration region in the UVC modules in the very early stage when the discoloration is not visible to the naked eyes, whereas Isc measurement is unable to measure the performance loss until the color becomes visibly darker. YI also provides the direct evidence of yellowing in the encapsulant. As expected, the extent of degradation due to discoloration increases with the increase in module temperature. The Isc loss is dictated by both the regions – discolored area at the center and non-discolored area at the cell edges, whereas the YI is only determined at the discolored region due to low probe area. This led to the limited correlation between Isc and YI in UVC modules.

In case of UVP modules, UV radiation has caused an adverse impact on the interfacial adhesion between the EVA and solar cell, which was detected from UVf images and severe Isc loss. No change in YI confirms that the reason for Isc loss is not due to yellowing but the delamination.

Further, the activation energy of encapsulant discoloration was estimated by using Arrhenius model on two types of data, %Isc drop and ΔYI. The Ea determined from the change in YI data for the EVA encapsulant discoloration reaction without the influence of oxygen and humidity is 0.61 eV. Based on the activation energy determined in this work and hourly weather data of any site, the degradation rate for the encaspulant browning mode can be estimated.

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2018

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Application of Radiovoltmeters: Quick and Quantitative Power Determination of Individual PV Modules in a String without using I-V Curve Tracers

Description

The goal of any solar photovoltaic (PV) system is to generate maximum energy throughout its lifetime. The parameters that can affect PV module power output include: solar irradiance, temperature, soil accumulation, shading, encapsulant browning, encapsulant delamination, series resistance increase due

The goal of any solar photovoltaic (PV) system is to generate maximum energy throughout its lifetime. The parameters that can affect PV module power output include: solar irradiance, temperature, soil accumulation, shading, encapsulant browning, encapsulant delamination, series resistance increase due to solder bond degradation and corrosion and shunt resistance decrease due to potential induced degradation, etc. Several PV modules together in series makes up a string, and in a power plant there are a number of these strings in parallel which can be referred to as an array. Ideally, PV modules in a string should be identically matched to attain maximum power output from the entire string. Any underperforming module or mismatch among modules within a string can reduce the power output. The goal of this project is to quickly identify and quantitatively determine the underperforming module(s) in an operating string without the use of an I-V curve tracer, irradiance sensor or temperature sensor. This goal was achieved by utilizing Radiovoltmeters (RVM). In this project, it is demonstrated that the voltages at maximum power point (Vmax) of all the individual modules in a string can be simultaneously and quantitatively obtained using RVMs at a single irradiance, single module operating temperature, single spectrum and single angle of incidence. By combining these individual module voltages (Vmax) with the string current (Imax) using a Hall sensor, the power output of individual modules can be obtained, quickly and quantitatively.

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2019

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Defects and statistical degradation analysis of photovoltaic power plants

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As the photovoltaic (PV) power plants age in the field, the PV modules degrade and generate visible and invisible defects. A defect and statistical degradation rate analysis of photovoltaic (PV) power plants is presented in two-part thesis. The first part

As the photovoltaic (PV) power plants age in the field, the PV modules degrade and generate visible and invisible defects. A defect and statistical degradation rate analysis of photovoltaic (PV) power plants is presented in two-part thesis. The first part of the thesis deals with the defect analysis and the second part of the thesis deals with the statistical degradation rate analysis. In the first part, a detailed analysis on the performance or financial risk related to each defect found in multiple PV power plants across various climatic regions of the USA is presented by assigning a risk priority number (RPN). The RPN for all the defects in each PV plant is determined based on two databases: degradation rate database; defect rate database. In this analysis it is determined that the RPN for each plant is dictated by the technology type (crystalline silicon or thin-film), climate and age. The PV modules aging between 3 and 19 years in four different climates of hot-dry, hot-humid, cold-dry and temperate are investigated in this study.

In the second part, a statistical degradation analysis is performed to determine if the degradation rates are linear or not in the power plants exposed in a hot-dry climate for the crystalline silicon technologies. This linearity degradation analysis is performed using the data obtained through two methods: current-voltage method; metered kWh method. For the current-voltage method, the annual power degradation data of hundreds of individual modules in six crystalline silicon power plants of different ages is used. For the metered kWh method, a residual plot analysis using Winters’ statistical method is performed for two crystalline silicon plants of different ages. The metered kWh data typically consists of the signal and noise components. Smoothers remove the noise component from the data by taking the average of the current and the previous observations. Once this is done, a residual plot analysis of the error component is performed to determine the noise was successfully separated from the data by proving the noise is random.

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2016

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Characterizations of soil layers artificially deposited on glass and photovoltaic coupons

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The deposition of airborne dust, especially in desert conditions, is very problematic as it leads to significant loss of power of photovoltaic (PV) modules on a daily basis during the dry period. As such, PV testing laboratories around the world

The deposition of airborne dust, especially in desert conditions, is very problematic as it leads to significant loss of power of photovoltaic (PV) modules on a daily basis during the dry period. As such, PV testing laboratories around the world have been trying to set up soil deposition stations to artificially deposit soil layers and to simulate outdoor soiling conditions in an accelerated manner. This thesis is a part of a twin thesis. The first thesis, authored by Shanmukha Mantha, is associated with the designing of an artificial soiling station. The second thesis (this thesis), authored by Darshan Choudhary, is associated with the characterization of the deposited soil layers. The soil layers deposited on glass coupons and one-cell laminates are characterized and presented in this thesis. This thesis focuses on the characterizations of the soil layers obtained in several soiling cycles using various techniques including current-voltage (I-V), quantum efficiency (QE), compositional analysis and optical profilometry. The I-V characterization was carried out to determine the impact of soil layer on current and other performance parameters of PV devices. The QE characterization was carried out to determine the impact of wavelength dependent influence of soil type and thickness on the QE curves. The soil type was determined using the compositional analysis. The compositional data of the soil is critical to determine the adhesion properties of the soil layers on the surface of PV modules. The optical profilometry was obtained to determine the particle size and distribution. The soil layers deposited using two different deposition techniques were characterized. The two deposition techniques are designated as “dew” technique and “humidity” technique. For the same deposition time, the humidity method was determined to deposit the soil layer at lower rates as compared to the dew method. Two types of deposited soil layers were characterized. The first type layer was deposited using a reference soil called Arizona (AZ) dust. The second type layer was deposited using the soil which was collected from the surface of the modules installed outdoor in Arizona. The density of the layers deposited using the surface collected soil was determined to be lower than AZ dust based layers for the same number of deposition cycles.

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Date Created
2016

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Determination of activation energy for encapsulant browning of photovoltaic modules

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The primary goal of this thesis work is to determine the activation energy for encapsulant browning reaction of photovoltaic (PV) modules using outdoor field degradation data and indoor accelerated degradation data. For the outdoor field data, six PV modules fielded

The primary goal of this thesis work is to determine the activation energy for encapsulant browning reaction of photovoltaic (PV) modules using outdoor field degradation data and indoor accelerated degradation data. For the outdoor field data, six PV modules fielded in Arizona (hot climate) over 21 years and four PV modules fielded in New York (cold climate) over 18 years have been analyzed. All the ten modules were manufactured by the same manufacturer with glass/EVA/cell/EVA/back sheet construction. The activation energy for the encapsulant browning is calculated using the degradation rates of short-circuit current (Isc, the response parameter), weather data (temperature, humidity, and UV, the stress parameters) and different empirical rate models such as Arrhenius, Peck, Klinger and modified Peck models. For the indoor accelerated data, three sets of mini-modules with the same construction/manufacturer as that of the outdoor fielded modules were subjected indoor accelerated weathering stress and the test data were analyzed. The indoor accelerated test was carried out in a weathering chamber at the chamber temperature of 20°C, chamber relative humidity of 65%, and irradiance of 1 W/m2 at 340nm using a xenon arc lamp. Typically, to obtain activation energy, the test samples are stressed at two (or more) temperatures in two (or more) chambers. However, in this work, it has been attempted to do the acceleration testing of eight mini-modules at multiple temperatures using a single chamber. Multiple temperatures in a single chamber were obtained using thermal insulators on the back of the mini-modules. Depending on the thickness of the thermal insulators with constant solar gain from the xenon lamp, different temperatures on the test samples were achieved using a single weathering chamber. The Isc loss and temperature of the mini-modules were continuously monitored using a data logger. Also, the mini-modules were taken out every two weeks and various characterization tests such as IV, QE, UV fluorescence and reflectance were carried out. Activation energy from the indoor accelerated tests was calculated using the short circuit current degradation rate and operating temperatures of the mini-modules. The activation energy for the encapsulant browning obtained from the outdoor field data and the indoor accelerated data are compared and analyzed in this work.

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2016