German scientists develop new method to predict solar panel lifespan
When solar cell modules are exposed to complex environments, the materials will age over time, and solar panel lifespan will also be shortened. Although most solar cell manufacturers guarantee their customers a maximum lifespan of 25 years, such a general lifespan statement is not accurate. Recently, German researchers have launched a new method that can more accurately predict solar panel lifespan.
The Institute of Materials Mechanics, a subsidiary of the Fraunhofer Association in Germany, issued a communiqué stating that ice and snow loads, temperature changes and wind loads will cause mechanical stress on solar cell modules, causing materials to shrink and stretch, which will lead to material fatigue of solar cell modules over time. The solar panel lifespan is also shortened. Among solar cell module materials, plastic backsheets and cell connection strips made of thin copper wires are particularly fragile, like a paper clip that is constantly bent back and forth until it breaks at a certain point.
In order to understand the impact of environmental factors on the material of the battery components, the researchers measured the mechanical loading of the battery components in situ. They installed a sensor on a complete set of solar cell modules, which can measure the shrinkage and expansion of the cell module material according to the resistance change, and thus calculate the mechanical stress on the cell module material, which can also be used in the life of the solar cell panel.
Evaluating the data, the researchers found that even a gust of wind was enough to cause the battery components to oscillate, and the higher the ambient temperature, the more pronounced the oscillations were. In addition, UV radiation has an unexpected effect on material fatigue. Ultraviolet light makes synthetic materials harder and more brittle, and over time also increases the frequency of oscillation.
Based on the field measurements, the researchers built a 3D simulation system. This digital simulation and simulation system can infer the long-term effects of environmental factors on the battery components and what mechanical stress will occur, thereby predicting the life of the battery components.
This combination of measurements and simulations can not only predict solar panel lifespan, but can also be used to improve the shape, materials and more of solar modules, the researchers said.