Effects of Photovoltaic Module Materials and Design on Module Deformation Under Load

James Hartley, Michael Owen-Bellini, Thomas Truman, Ashley Maes, Edmund Elce, Allan Ward, Tariq Khraishi, Scott Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus Citations


Quasi-static structural finite-element models of an aluminum-framed crystalline silicon photovoltaic module and a glass-glass thin-film module were constructed and validated against experimental measurements of deflection under uniform pressure loading. Specific practices in the computational representation of module assembly were identified as influential to matching experimental deflection observations. Additionally, parametric analyses using Latin hypercube sampling were performed to propagate input uncertainties related to module materials, dimensions, and tolerances into uncertainties in simulated deflection. Sensitivity analyses were performed on the uncertainty quantification datasets using linear correlation coefficients and variance-based sensitivity indices to elucidate key parameters influencing module deformation. Results identified edge tape and adhesive material properties as being strongly correlated to module deflection, suggesting that optimization of these materials could yield module stiffness gains at par with the conventionally structural parameters, such as glass thickness. This exercise verifies the applicability of finite-element models for accurately predicting mechanical behavior of solar modules and demonstrates a workflow for model-based parametric uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis. Applications of this capability include the assessment of field environment loads, derivation of representative loading conditions for reduced-scale testing, and module design optimization, among others.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9016369
Pages (from-to)838-843
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-76253


  • Finite-element modeling
  • mechanical load
  • simulation
  • uncertainty quantification
  • validation


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