The NCPV study was performed to evaluate the “Test-to-Failure,” a testing protocol designed to comparatively assess module durability and show potential failure mechanisms. NREL’s accelerated lifetime testing simulates severe environmental conditions, including repeated thermal cycling from -40 to 185°F and separate application of 85% relative humidity at 85°F with system voltage bias applied.
The study also found that these accelerated tests cause some failures that are representative of field exposure and some that have not been identified to occur in the field, so the significance of a failure in a test must be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Silicon Energy’s Cascade Series module was tested along with five of the top twenty PV module manufacturers by megawatt sold in 2010, and outperformed them under the accelerated test scenarios. Silicon Energy’s module emerged from the testing environment with no electrical safety failures and no performance degradation.
According to Silicon Energy, its modules are made with double tempered glass construction, and laminated using an advanced encapsulant to survive extreme environmental conditions. One such environment is Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Wild Horse Wind and Solar Farm at 3,500 ft on the slopes of Whiskey Dick Mountain in the Washington Cascade Mountains, an installation that exposes the Silicon Energy modules to severe weather, temperatures, and wind gusts up to 120 mph.
NCPV activities support the DOE SunShot Initiative. The goal is to make large-scale solar energy systems cost-competitive with other energy sources by 2020.