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The Electric Power Research Institute won a $1.3 million PREDICTS2 award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to develop novel accelerated-aging protocols for photovoltaic modules.
EPRI will lead the project, collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories, Southern Co. and Southern Research to compare the performance of PV panels that have been operating for several years to that of new panels, ideally of the same make, model and vintage, that undergo accelerated aging in an environmental chamber.
The testing will be conducted at the Southeastern Solar Research Center, established last year by Southern Co., EPRI and SR on SR’s campus in Birmingham, Alabama.
Because it is less practical to field test PV modules and systems for several years or decades to validate operating life and degradation rates, accelerated testing protocols are used to achieve that purpose in much less time.
The first PREDICTS program, launched in 2013, focused on the development of models to understand and predict equipment failure. PREDICTS2 expands the scope to:
· Improve accelerated tests using fundamental physical and advanced data analysis
· Better understand failure modes
· Develop rapid testing techniques/instruments for reliability indicators
· Develop an improved model for extrapolating modules performance over time.
The three-year project will develop an algorithm for predicting panel performance degradation over time, work to advance module certification and degradation prediction and determine the potential levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) improvement as a result of applying these novel accelerated tests and protocols.
The improved predictive models expected from this research could help lower the cost of PV energy through selection of modules with potentially higher power outputs over the PV system life, lowering financing costs and enabling development of PV projects.
The DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative, national effort that aggressively drives innovation with the goal of making solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, universities and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.
EPRI conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and the environment. EPRI’s members represent about 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.Car.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.