As a part of their PREDICTS2 award, researchers at the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) will analyze the reliability of polymeric backsheets, a thin, multilayer sheet that covers the back of a photovoltaic (PV) module. The backsheet helps maintain the lifetime performance of a PV module and protects installers and maintenance workers from electric shock. The covering also protects the insides from environmental conditions that might degrade the performance of a module over time. This project was announced on September 16, 2015 at the Solar Power International conference. Read the press release.
Researchers will conduct an accelerated laboratory test on backsheets, using both aged field-installed modules and laboratory-tested materials to determine which materials fare the best. By comparing data collected in the laboratory and data from modules in the field, researchers hope to discover some missing links so that realistic models can be built to better predict lifetime performance.
Based on information gathered from lab and field tests, researchers will develop a model that will help identify the characteristics of backsheets that will improve the reliability and durability of modules installed in various climates. As a result of this study, manufacturers will be able to better determine which materials to use in their PV module designs and solar owners and operators will benefit from improved reliability predictions.