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Physics of Reliability: Evaluating Design Insights for Component Technologies in Solar 2 (PREDICTS 2)

Physics of Reliability: Evaluating Design Insights for Component Technologies in Solar 2 (PREDICTS 2)

The SunShot Physics of Reliability: Evaluating Design Insights for Component Technologies in Solar 2 (PREDICTS 2) program funds research in physics, chemistry, and advanced data analysis to gain a better understanding of how and why solar PV modules degrade.  The resulting improved product tests – either outdoors after installation or during the manufacturing process – will enable evaluation of module reliability and improved prediction of performance over time.

This second round of funding for the PREDICTS program was announced on September 16, 2015 with a total award amount of $7 million. Learn more about the first round of PREDICTS projects. Read the press release announcing PREDICTS 2.

Approach

The first round of PREDICTS involved the development of models that could be used to understand and predict failures in PV, CSP, and microinverter technologies. This second round focuses on advances in PV modules and the accelerated testing needed to better understand degradation rates and the resulting system lifetimes. This enables the better assessment of, and reduction of, the financial risk for PV installations. Risk is a key input when determining the value of solar energy systems, which are expected to produce electricity for decades.

Objectives

The projects funded under PREDICTS 2 will provide the solar community with access to improved predictive models, accelerated testing techniques, and more reliable products that will ultimately lead to reduced risk (both perceived and actual) in long-term  PV performance. This will lower the cost of solar energy by improving power outputs over the lifetime of PV systems, lowering financing costs, and thereby helping to increase solar demand among investors, developers, and utilities.

Awardees

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.

Location: Palo Alto, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,042,496
Awardee Cost Share: $260,624
Principal Investigator: Cara Libby
Project Summary: This project will advance the state of the art of module certification and degradation certainty. The project will also advance the knowledge base of in-situ plant monitoring and proactive maintenance in order to maximize energy production and profitability of PV plants.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Location: Livermore, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $570,000
Awardee Cost Share: $180,000
Principal Investigator: Mihail Bora
​Project Summary: A better understanding of the water diffusion process substantiated by experimental data analysis from deployed modules has the potential to improve both reliability and performance of PV modules. This project will develop a non-invasive optical detection technique based on hyperspectral near infrared imaging of PV modules.

SunPower Corporation

Location: San Jose, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,350,000
Awardee Cost Share: $375,000
Principal Investigator: Yu-Chen Shen
​Project Summary: This project examines two key failure modes of metallization interconnect reliability: metallization corrosion and solder joint failures. The key outcomes will be predictive models for metallization corrosion and solder joint failures to aid in the design of reliable interconnects and predictive and faster accelerated tests useful for qualification, certification, and ongoing reliability.

Case Western Reserve University

Location: Cleveland, OH
SunShot Award Amount: $1,350,000
Awardee Cost Share: $348,425
Principal Investigator: Roger French
​Project Summary: This project will correlate PV module degradation, validate accelerated tests, and predict lifetime performance using common datastreams and temporal analytics applicable to both fielded and laboratory-tested PV modules.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Location: Urbana, IL
SunShot Award Amount: $1,349,998
Awardee Cost Share: $339,822
Principal Investigator: Angus Rockett
​Project Summary: This project will eliminate detrimental changes in CIGS solar modules and better characterize the expected performance of a given product.

Underwriters Laboratories

Location: San Jose, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,349,746
Awardee Cost Share: $337,431
Principal Investigator: Christopher Flueckiger
​Project Summary: This project will advance the mechanistic understanding of PV module backsheet degradation in fielded modules and develop improved laboratory weathering exposures with results correlated to field performance.

Learn more about SunShot's other photovoltaic competitive awards