PV ModuleTech 2018: 1GW of solar PV field data and adapting to new technology with DuPont

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Oakland Fu, technical manager at DuPont, talking at PV ModuleTech 2018

PV Tech caught up with Oakland Fu, technical manager at DuPont, to discuss data from one of the industry’s largest field studies as well as challenges for the industry in adapting to new technologies on the way to grid parity.

DuPont has been carrying out a major field study since 2011. What has been the key lesson?

Oakland Fu: This year our cumulative surveyed solar systems have gone beyond 1GW, making ours one of the largest field programme studies in the industry across different regions, including North America, Asia Pacific and Europe. It covers different climates as well as applications like rooftop, ground-mount and floating solar systems.

The field survey also covers more than 4 million panels with all kinds of module technologies from around 92 module makers across nearly 300 solar systems. Our major finding is that the defects rate has remained at a high percentage (22.3%) across the past 8 years without showing a trend of decrease.

So while the PV industry has moved fast towards grid parity, the defect rates have stayed at a high level and this will be an issue before we fully reach grid parity.

Delegates from the downstream sector at PV ModuleTech this year have said they are puzzled by new technology introductions. What is your advice to them and how can manufacturers clearly explain what their offerings are to developers and investors?

This is always the issue. To achieve grid parity you have to adopt new technology, but there is a dilemma when you go for new products. The downstream developers only want proven technology so there is always a conflict there. The industry has to work together to solve this issue – not just module makers.

Currently, module manufacturers just buy materials and components, assemble the product and conduct some simple lab tests before sending the module for third-party certification, but developers and owners are not fully satisfied with this methodology.

So I do believe that module makers have to work with the upstream and downstream to have more systematic ways to evaluate this kind of reliability issue, not just focusing on high efficiency.

From DuPont's view, when we launch a new product, we put reliability at top priority, using high standards for lab aging tests as well as focusing on getting field data.

Module makers need to get more field data to support their new product development, not just lab tests. They can do this by working with developers on 1MW or 2MW beta test sites to accumulate such field data to satisfy the downstream customers that this kind of new technology has some field proven record in different kinds of situation.

Third-parties are of course also very important to this game, because they are also working on different testing protocols beyond IEC testing standards to meet this industry’s needs. They need to set a high bar for testing new products – not just two or three times the standardised trial – you have to simulate the field situations to get the better results that can convince module makers and customers to adopt new technology. It takes time but you have to do it.

How have you had to shape and advance your products to meet new technology trends in the last year?

A lot of new innovations have come on the way like bifacial cells and modules and leading module makers such as JinkoSolar and LONGi are also working on this kind of technology, while further downstream, developers are also showing interest. That’s why DuPont launched its clear Tedlar film for transparent backsheet and we are working with module makers on testing it.

Reliability is core to this product and we invested a lot of time and resources to evaluate the aging performance of this material. In our lab we do more than 500kWh per square metre UV aging trials. The backsheet is also tested at four or five times above the industry standard by module makers. This is to make sure it can maintain high performance at all kind of harsh environments.

As it happens, given what I’ve already said about the importance of field data, our transparent backsheet made with clear Tedlar PVF film has been used in BIPV modules for the past 20 years so it already has a long track record.

Read Next

PV Tech Premium
July 5, 2021
As it matures, the solar industry is moving beyond the use of Performance Ratios (PR) as the go-to performance metric for operational sites. Christopher West, head of central engineering - solar PV delivery unit at Statkraft, argues the case for PRs to be replaced by alternative, more evolved methods of assessment.
June 29, 2021
Soltec has signed an agreement to supply its SF7 bifacial solar trackers to Norwegian state-owned utility Statkraft for use in four PV projects being developed in the southern Spanish region of Andalucía.
May 13, 2021
The solar module manufacturing subsidiary of Italian utility Enel is aiming to scale up annual production capacity to 3GW in the second half of 2023, the company has confirmed.
PV Tech Premium
April 20, 2021
New technologies are increasingly being used to enhance solar project economics and boost gains, however the application and modelling of these technologies remains uncertain. This exclusive recording from Solar Finance & Investment Europe sheds a light on those areas.
March 12, 2021
Trina Solar has added to its Vertex series of next-generation solar modules, launching an ultra-high power 670W version.
February 23, 2021
Dozens of chief executives in the renewable energy sector have demanded that US President Joe Biden repeal the tariff hike Donald Trump’s Administration placed on solar panel imports last year.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
November 10, 2021
8am (PST) | 5pm (CET)
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021