Detection and Localization of Damaged Photovoltaic Cells and Modules Using Spread Spectrum Time Domain Reflectometry

Mashad Saleh, Chris Deline, Evan Benoit, Samuel Kingston, Joel Harley, Cynthia Furse, Michael Scarpulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations

Abstract

The operating efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) plants can be improved if damaged or degraded modules can be detected and identified. Currently, string-level power electronics can detect problems with modules or cabling but not locate them, which would facilitate addressing these issues. Here, we investigate the ability of spread spectrum time domain reflectometry (SSTDR) to both detect and locate/identify damaged cells and modules within a series-connected PV string. We tested the ability of SSTDR to detect and locate single-cell mini-modules and full-sized PV modules, which were intentionally damaged by impacts with a hammer (breaking the glass and damaging the silicon below) or by cutting through some or all busbars. Damage to the glass and silicon of cells was detected and located within a small string of minimodules. Busbar damage was detectable only if an open was created by cutting through all intercell busbars. Physical impact damage to the glass and silicon of a full-sized PV module could be detected, but further development of signal processing is needed to achieve localization of such damaged modules within a string.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9239263
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-77961

Keywords

  • Fault location
  • photovoltaic (PV) system
  • reflectometry
  • spread spectrum time domain reflectometry (SSTDR)

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