DuraMAT, the project that wants to increase the lifespan of solar panels to 50 years

A new consortium funded by the United States government is studying factors that reduce the reliability of photovoltaic modules to prevent their degradation and bring them as far as possible from the end of their useful life.

Accelerated stress testing and forensic material analysis are used.

The perfect photovoltaic.

High energy efficiency, low cost and long term reliability. In other words, the technology must not only be efficient and economical, but also sustainable.

However, today, despite the progress made, the useful life of solar panels is 20 to 30 years on average. Over time, exposure to external agents slowly deteriorates module performance, gradually reducing output.

Understanding the mechanisms underlying this degradation and preventing it remains an open challenge to which the DureMAT (Durable Module Materials) project is trying to respond.

DureMAT Project

Launched in November 2016 with funding from the US government, DuraMAT has created a multi-laboratory consortium that, under the direction of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is working to extend the life of solar panels.

For more than five years, project scientists have been exploring new ideas to extend the life of photovoltaic modules up to 50 years.

This work involved the development of new accelerated stress tests combined with forensic materials science and detailed physical models of potential failures.

The data collected allowed the network of laboratories to select the key problems. And offer its capabilities to third parties to create new resolution strategies.

Useful life of solar panels, problems and solutions.

A scalable plasma spray process has been developed to deposit moisture resistant coatings with anti-reflective properties, controlled tackiness, thickness and density.

And a new method for testing the chemical and mechanical “quality” of the so-called backsheet, the bottom layer of the module that provides critical electrical insulation and mechanical integrity.

With the help of the consortium, Osazda Energy has developed a cost-effective technology to help solar cells resist cracking, while giving them the ability to repair themselves.

Much of our research continues to focus on the reliability and durability of the commercial technology portfolio.

We are now focusing on predictive testing and modeling methods that will allow us to more quickly and accurately assess the reliability of new technologies. PV must continue to improve, and product development cycles can be much faster than reliability test cycles. We need to find a way to gauge performance as the industry grows rapidly.

Teresa Barnes, NREL Principal Investigator and DuraMAT Director.

More information: www.duramat.org

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