Photovoltaic, Degradation, High Voltage Bias Testing, Reliability, Durability


This thesis mainly focuses on two important aspects of the photovoltaic modules. The first aspect addressed the high voltage bias testing and data and degradation analysis of high voltage biased thin film photovoltaic modules. The second aspect addressed the issues of reliability and durability of crystalline silicon module. Grid-connected photovoltaic systems must withstand high voltage bias in addition to harsh environmental conditions such as intermittent solar irradiance, high humidity, heat and wind. a-Si:H thin-film photovoltaic modules with earlier generation SnO2:F transparent conducting oxide (TCO) on the front glass installed on the FSEC High Voltage Test Bed were monitored since December 2001. The data was collected on a daily basis and analyzed. The leakage currents for some chosen time period were calculated and compared with the measured values. Current-voltage characteristic measurements were carried out to check any reduction in the power. Samples were cored and extracted for analysis from one of the -600 V biased modules. Leakage currents in high-voltage-biased laminates specially prepared with improved SnO2:F TCO are being monitored in the hot and humid climate in Florida. Negatively-biased modules showed clear signs of delamination. The leakage currents in high-voltage biased photovoltaic modules are functions of both temperature and relative humidity. Photovoltaic module leakage conductance was found to be thermally stimulated with a characteristic activation energy that depends on relative humidity. The adhesional strength was lost completely in the damaged area. Leakage current values from support to ground in new, unframed laminates fabricated with improved SnO2:F TCO layer were ~100 times lower under the high voltage bias in hot and humid environment. Information on the failure of field deployed modules must be complemented with why and how the modules fail while considering the issues of reliability and durability of crystalline silicon module. At present, all the failure modes have not been identified and failure mechanisms have not been understood. Experience has shown that as the materials and processes are changed, reliability issues that apparently had been resolved resurface. A multicrystalline silicon photovoltaic module that was manufactured by a non-US company and that had shown >50% performance loss in field-deployment of <2 years in hot and dry climate were studied for degradation analysis in comparison with a mc-Si module that was manufactured by the same company and that performed well after 10 years of field-deployment in hot and humid climate.. I-V measurements were carried out to analyze the reduction in photovoltaic parameters. Solder bond strength in mc-Si photovoltaic modules were measured to understand early degradation of performance. Samples were cored and extracted for further analysis. Adhesional strength between the busline metallization and the silicon cell in a newer generation mc-Si photovoltaic module was found to be considerably lower than that in the earlier vintage module. These results can be useful for early detection and diagnosis of field reliability issues and could assist in establishing correlation between long-term field data and observations and accelerated environmental stress testing. It is suggested that more detailed study should be undertaken using unencapsulated strings of crystalline silicon modules so as to avoid complication due to encapsulant creeping beneath the ribbons.


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Graduation Date





Dhere, Neelkanth


Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (M.S.M.S.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering








Release Date

January 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)