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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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Investigation of 1,900 individual field aged photovoltaic modules for potential induced degradation (PID) in a positive biased power plant

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Photovoltaic (PV) modules undergo performance degradation depending on climatic conditions, applications, and system configurations. The performance degradation prediction of PV modules is primarily based on Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) procedures. In order to further strengthen the ALT process, additional investigation

Photovoltaic (PV) modules undergo performance degradation depending on climatic conditions, applications, and system configurations. The performance degradation prediction of PV modules is primarily based on Accelerated Life Testing (ALT) procedures. In order to further strengthen the ALT process, additional investigation of the power degradation of field aged PV modules in various configurations is required. A detailed investigation of 1,900 field aged (12-18 years) PV modules deployed in a power plant application was conducted for this study. Analysis was based on the current-voltage (I-V) measurement of all the 1,900 modules individually. I-V curve data of individual modules formed the basis for calculating the performance degradation of the modules. The percentage performance degradation and rates of degradation were compared to an earlier study done at the same plant. The current research was primarily focused on identifying the extent of potential induced degradation (PID) of individual modules with reference to the negative ground potential. To investigate this, the arrangement and connection of the individual modules/strings was examined in detail. The study also examined the extent of underperformance of every series string due to performance mismatch of individual modules in that string. The power loss due to individual module degradation and module mismatch at string level was then compared to the rated value.

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2011

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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 attributed to the high system voltages. High voltages (HV) in

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.

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2011

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Angle of incidence and non-intrusive cell quantum efficiency measurements of commercial photovoltaic modules

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This is a two-part thesis: Part 1 of this thesis tests and validates the methodology and mathematical models of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61853-2 standard for the measurement of angle of incidence (AOI) effects on photovoltaic modules. Flat-plate photovoltaic

This is a two-part thesis: Part 1 of this thesis tests and validates the methodology and mathematical models of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61853-2 standard for the measurement of angle of incidence (AOI) effects on photovoltaic modules. Flat-plate photovoltaic modules in the field operate under a wide range of environmental conditions. The purpose of IEC 61853-2 is to characterize photovoltaic modules' performance under specific environmental conditions. Part 1 of this report focuses specifically on AOI. To accurately test and validate IEC 61853-2 standard for measuring AOI, meticulous experimental setup and test procedures were followed. Modules of five different photovoltaic technology types with glass superstrates were tested. Test results show practically identical relative light transmission plots for all five test modules. The experimental results were compared to theoretical and empirical models for relative light transmission of air-glass interface. IEC 61853-2 states "for the flat glass superstrate modules, the AOI test does not need to be performed; rather, the data of a flat glass air interface can be used." The results obtained in this thesis validate this statement. This work was performed in collaboration with another Master of Science student (Surynarayana Janakeeraman) and the test results are presented in two masters theses. Part 2 of this thesis is to develop non-intrusive techniques to accurately measure the quantum efficiency (QE) of a single-junction crystalline silicon cell within a commercial module. This thesis will describe in detail all the equipment and conditions necessary to measure QE and discuss the factors which may influence this measurement. The ability to utilize a non-intrusive test to measure quantum efficiency of a cell within a module is extremely beneficial for reliability testing of commercial modules. Detailed methodologies for this innovative test procedure are not widely available in industry because equipment and measurement techniques have not been explored extensively. This paper will provide a literature review describing relevant theories and measurement techniques related to measuring the QE of a cell within a module. The testing methodology and necessary equipment will be described in detail. Results and conclusions provide the overall accuracy of the measurements and discuss the parameters affecting these measurements.

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2013

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Outdoor soiling loss characterization and statistical risk analysis of photovoltaic power plants

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This is a two-part thesis:

Part 1 characterizes soiling losses using various techniques to understand the effect of soiling on photovoltaic modules. The higher the angle of incidence (AOI), the lower will be the photovoltaic (PV) module performance. Our research

This is a two-part thesis:

Part 1 characterizes soiling losses using various techniques to understand the effect of soiling on photovoltaic modules. The higher the angle of incidence (AOI), the lower will be the photovoltaic (PV) module performance. Our research group has already reported the AOI investigation for cleaned modules of five different technologies with air/glass interface. However, the modules that are installed in the field would invariably develop a soil layer with varying thickness depending on the site condition, rainfall and tilt angle. The soiled module will have the air/soil/glass interface rather than air/glass interface. This study investigates the AOI variations on soiled modules of five different PV technologies. It is demonstrated that AOI effect is inversely proportional to the soil density. In other words, the power or current loss between clean and soiled modules would be much higher at a higher AOI than at a lower AOI leading to excessive energy production loss of soiled modules on cloudy days, early morning hours and late afternoon hours. Similarly, the spectral influence of soil on the performance of the module was investigated through reflectance and transmittance measurements. It was observed that the reflectance and transmittances losses vary linearly with soil density variation and the 600-700 nm band was identified as an ideal band for soil density measurements.

Part 2 of this thesis performs statistical risk analysis for a power plant through FMECA (Failure Mode, Effect, and Criticality Analysis) based on non-destructive field techniques and count data of the failure modes. Risk Priority Number is used for the grading guideline for criticality analysis. The analysis was done on a 19-year-old power plant in cold-dry climate to identify the most dominant failure and degradation modes. In addition, a comparison study was done on the current power plant (framed) along with another 18-year-old (frameless) from the same climate zone to understand the failure modes for cold-dry climatic condition.

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2015

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Indoor soiling method and outdoor statistical risk analysis of photovoltaic power plants

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This is a two-part thesis.

Part 1 presents an approach for working towards the development of a standardized artificial soiling method for laminated photovoltaic (PV) cells or mini-modules. Construction of an artificial chamber to maintain controlled environmental conditions and components/chemicals used

This is a two-part thesis.

Part 1 presents an approach for working towards the development of a standardized artificial soiling method for laminated photovoltaic (PV) cells or mini-modules. Construction of an artificial chamber to maintain controlled environmental conditions and components/chemicals used in artificial soil formulation is briefly explained. Both poly-Si mini-modules and a single cell mono-Si coupons were soiled and characterization tests such as I-V, reflectance and quantum efficiency (QE) were carried out on both soiled, and cleaned coupons. From the results obtained, poly-Si mini-modules proved to be a good measure of soil uniformity, as any non-uniformity present would not result in a smooth curve during I-V measurements. The challenges faced while executing reflectance and QE characterization tests on poly-Si due to smaller size cells was eliminated on the mono-Si coupons with large cells to obtain highly repeatable measurements. This study indicates that the reflectance measurements between 600-700 nm wavelengths can be used as a direct measure of soil density on the modules.

Part 2 determines the most dominant failure modes of field aged PV modules using experimental data obtained in the field and statistical analysis, FMECA (Failure Mode, Effect, and Criticality Analysis). The failure and degradation modes of about 744 poly-Si glass/polymer frameless modules fielded for 18 years under the cold-dry climate of New York was evaluated. Defect chart, degradation rates (both string and module levels) and safety map were generated using the field measured data. A statistical reliability tool, FMECA that uses Risk Priority Number (RPN) is used to determine the dominant failure or degradation modes in the strings and modules by means of ranking and prioritizing the modes. This study on PV power plants considers all the failure and degradation modes from both safety and performance perspectives.

The indoor and outdoor soiling studies were jointly performed by two Masters Students, Sravanthi Boppana and Vidyashree Rajasekar. This thesis presents the indoor soiling study, whereas the other thesis presents the outdoor soiling study. Similarly, the statistical risk analyses of two power plants (model J and model JVA) were jointly performed by these two Masters students. Both power plants are located at the same cold-dry climate, but one power plant carries framed modules and the other carries frameless modules. This thesis presents the results obtained on the frameless modules.

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2015

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

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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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Comparison of four methods to assess silver release from nano impregnated reverse osmosis membranes

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With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials,

With the application of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes in the wastewater treatment and seawater desalination, the limitation of flux and fouling problems of RO have gained more attention from researchers. Because of the tunable structure and physicochemical properties of nanomaterials, it is a suitable material that can be used to incorporate with RO to change the membrane performances. Silver is biocidal, which has been used in a variety of consumer products. Recent studies showed that fabricating silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on membrane surfaces can mitigate the biofouling problem on the membrane. Studies have shown that Ag released from the membrane in the form of either Ag ions or AgNP will accelerate the antimicrobial activity of the membrane. However, the silver release from the membrane will lower the silver loading on the membrane, which will eventually shorten the antimicrobial activity lifetime of the membrane. Therefore, the silver leaching amount is a crucial parameter that needs to be determined for every type of Ag composite membrane.

This study is attempting to compare four different silver leaching test methods, to study the silver leaching potential of the silver impregnated membranes, conducting the advantages and disadvantages of the leaching methods. An In-situ reduction Ag loaded RO membrane was examined in this study. A custom waterjet test was established to create a high-velocity water flow to test the silver leaching from the nanocomposite membrane in a relative extreme environment. The batch leaching test was examined as the most common leaching test method for the silver composite membrane. The cross-flow filtration and dead-end test were also examined to compare the silver leaching amounts.

The silver coated membrane used in this experiment has an initial silver loading of 2.0± 0.51 ug/cm2. The mass balance was conducted for all of the leaching tests. For the batch test, water jet test, and dead-end filtration, the mass balances are all within 100±25%, which is acceptable in this experiment because of the variance of the initial silver loading on the membranes. A bad silver mass balance was observed at cross-flow filtration. Both of AgNP and Ag ions leached in the solution was examined in this experiment. The concentration of total silver leaching into solutions from the four leaching tests are all below the Secondary Drinking Water Standard for silver which is 100 ppb. The cross-flow test is the most aggressive leaching method, which has more than 80% of silver leached from the membrane after 50 hours of the test. The water jet (54 ± 6.9% of silver remaining) can cause higher silver leaching than batch test (85 ± 1.2% of silver remaining) in one-hour, and it can also cause both AgNP and Ag ions leaching from the membrane, which is closer to the leaching condition in the cross-flow test.

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2017

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Effect of series resistance increase on fill factor of PV cells extracted from field aged modules of different climates

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is tipped to be one of the front-runners in the renewable industry. Typically, PV module manufacturers provide a linear or step warranty of 80% of original power over 25 years. This power loss during the field

Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is tipped to be one of the front-runners in the renewable industry. Typically, PV module manufacturers provide a linear or step warranty of 80% of original power over 25 years. This power loss during the field exposure is primarily attributed to the development of performance affecting defects in the PV modules. As many as 86 different defects can occur in a PV module. One of the major defects that can cause significant power loss is the interconnect metallization system (IMS) degradation which is the focus of this thesis. The IMS is composed of cell-interconnect (cell-ribbon interconnect) and string-interconnect (ribbon-ribbon interconnect). The cell interconnect is in turn composed of silver metallization (fingers and busbars) and solder bonds between silver busbar and copper ribbon. Weak solder bonding between copper ribbon and busbar of a cell results in increase of series resistance that in turn affects the fill factor causing a power drop. In this thesis work, the results obtained from various non-destructive and destructive experiments performed on modules exposed in three different climates (Arizona - Hot and Dry, Mexico - Warm and Humid, and California - Temperate) are presented. These experiments include light I-V measurements, dark I-V measurements, infrared imaging, extraction of test samples from the modules, peel strength measurements and four-point resistance measurements. The extraction of test samples was performed using a mechanical method and a chemical method. The merits and demerits of these two methods are presented. A drop of 10.33% in fill factor was observed for a 0.05Ω increase in the series resistance of the modules investigated in this work. Different combinations in a cell that can cause series resistance increase were considered and their effect on fill factor were observed using four-point probe experiments. Peel test experiments were conducted to correlate the effect of series resistance on the ribbon peel strength. Finally, climate specific thermal modelling was performed for 4 different sites over 20 years in order to calculate the accumulated thermal fatigue and also to evaluate its correlation, if any, with the increase of series resistance.

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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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2016