Gaining Gigawatts

A talk about improving the lifespan and efficiency of solar harvesting technology

Room 211, School of Computer Sciences & Electronic Engineering, Dean Street, Bangor
Thursday 14 March 2019, 13:00–14:00

Abstract: Solar energy has boomed over the last 15 years with cumulative solar PV capacity reaching almost 500GW. Economical solar energy depends on low-cost, long-lasting and high-performance photovoltaic (PV) modules. At a cost of less than $0.50 per Watt, PV modules are one of the lowest cost forms of electricity generation at the moment and can be expected to produce electricity for about 25 years with minimal maintenance. Degradation of PV modules is not completely understood and it is not currently possible to predict their entire service life. The presentation will show an overview of PV module failure modes and examine selected ones in detail. Individual failure modes can be resolved by identifying, understanding, and simulating the underlying  mechanisms, then developing sensible standardised accelerated tests. Solar energy can also be made more economical by improving PV module thermal performance. The presentation will introduce some approaches to reducing PV module operating temperature, which increases power output and lengthens service life even if efficiency at standard test conditions is unaffected.

Bio: Dr Timothy J Silverman works at US National Renewable Energy Laboratory and has a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2011 he has studied performance and reliability in photovoltaic modules and, indoor and outdoor testing, and failure analysis in the laboratory and the field. Favourite topics include the degradation of solder bonds, interconnects, and cracked cells in crystalline silicon modules; shadow-induced permanent efficiency loss and performance metastability in thin-film modules; thermal performance analysis and enhancement for all terrestrial modules; and diagnostic luminescence and thermal imaging.