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.