2021 PV Module Reliability Scorecard finds more quality failures as companies race to make powerful solar panels

Solar test organization PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) today released its 2021 PV Module Reliability Scorecard – available for the first time in both an interactive digital format and as a free download at modulescorecard.pvel.com.

In the 2021 report, 117 different solar panel model types from 26 manufacturers are named as “Top Performers” in the PVEL tests. The report applauds the widespread adoption of technical advances that increase the power of the PV module and lower the cost of solar energy. Still, reliability issues can jeopardize these performance improvements in the field: one in three participating manufacturers failed to implement basic quality controls that protect end users from safety failures.

“There is an unprecedented expansion of the production capacity of PV modules. New factories and production lines are vital as demand for solar energy soars, but buyers must be vigilant to avoid the risks inherent in rapid growth, ”said Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL. “The avoidable safety failures observed in this year’s Scorecard underscore the complex challenges that manufacturers face as they race to meet demand in a highly dynamic global marketplace.”

Now in its seventh edition, the Scorecard provides actionable insights for purchasing PV modules based on data from PVEL’s laboratory and field tests and research. It summarizes the results of the PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP), a comprehensive testing regime established by PVEL in 2012 to provide empirical data for benchmarking suppliers of PV modules and energy yield at project level and financial models.

Notable findings in the 2021 Scorecard include:

  • 26% of BOMs (BOMs) eligible for this year’s Scorecard had at least one failure, compared to 20% in 2020.
  • One in three tested manufacturers experienced safety failures due to faulty junction boxes, compared to one in five in 2020. The majority of these failures were detected before testing.
  • Five manufacturers received their first Top Performer mentions in this year’s Scorecard.
  • The report includes two new Top Performer categories that demonstrate modules with superior results in the mechanical stress sequence of PVEL and minimal sensitivity to light-induced degradation and light and elevated temperature-induced degradation.
  • The greatest number of failures occurred during the mechanical stress sequence, a test PVEL recently added to the PQP to address durability issues, especially for extreme weather.

“From glass to junction box, PVEL’s latest Scorecard shows once again that the quality of a PV module depends in part on the materials it contains – yet many buyers never request BOM data from suppliers,” said Tara Doyle, PVEL’s Chief Commercial Officer . “Between supply chain instability and the ever-present drive for lower prices, it cannot be assumed that every module sold under a particular model type uses tested BOM components. Buyers must specify their desired BOM in supply contracts to achieve this. “

Participation in PVEL’s PQP and Scorecard is voluntary for manufacturers and only the best performing module model types are listed in the Scorecard. To date, PVEL has tested more than 450 BOMs from more than 50 manufacturers for the PV module PQP.

Find the scorecard online: modulescorecard.pvel.com.

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