Comparison of Encapsulant Degradation between Glass/Backsheet and Glass/Glass Field-aged Photovoltaic Modules
Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is the most commonly used encapsulant in photovoltaic modules. However, EVA degrades over time and causes performance losses in PV system. Therefore, EVA degradation is a matter of concern from a durability point of view.
This work compares EVA encapsulant degradation in glass/backsheet and glass/glass field-aged PV modules. EVA was extracted from three field-aged modules (two glass/backsheet and one glass/glass modules) from three different manufacturers from various regions (cell edges, cell centers, and non-cell region) from each module based on their visual and UV Fluorescence images. Characterization techniques such as I-V measurements, Colorimetry, Different Scanning Calorimetry, Thermogravimetric Analysis, Raman spectroscopy, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy were performed on EVA samples.
The intensity of EVA discoloration was quantified using colorimetric measurements. Module performance parameters like Isc and Pmax degradation rates were calculated from I-V measurements. Properties such as degree of crystallinity, vinyl acetate content and degree of crosslinking were calculated from DSC, TGA, and Raman measurements, respectively. Polyenes responsible for EVA browning were identified in FTIR spectra.
The results from the characterization techniques confirmed that when EVA undergoes degradation, crosslinking in EVA increases beyond 90% causing a decrease in the degree of crystallinity and an increase in vinyl acetate content of EVA. Presence of polyenes in FTIR spectra of degraded EVA confirmed the occurrence of Norrish II reaction. However, photobleaching occurred in glass/backsheet modules due to the breathable backsheet whereas no photobleaching occurred in glass/glass modules because they were hermetically sealed. Hence, the yellowness index along with the Isc and Pmax degradation rates of EVA in glass/glass module is higher than that in glass/backsheet modules.
The results implied that more acetic acid was produced in the non-cell region due to its double layer of EVA compared to the front EVA from cell region. But, since glass/glass module is hermetically sealed, acetic acid gets entrapped inside the module further accelerating EVA degradation whereas it diffuses out through backsheet in glass/backsheet modules. Hence, it can be said that EVA might be a good encapsulant for glass/backsheet modules, but the same cannot be said for glass/glass modules.