Life After 30 Years - A PV System in Colorado

Dirk Jordan, Mike Kempe, Ingrid Repins, John Bleem, Jeff Menard, Paul Davis

Research output: NRELPresentation


The PV system consisted of 155 monocrystalline Si Arco M53 panels, installed in 1987. 80 were installed on a fixed tilt rack, and 75 on 5 separate dual-axis passive trackers. The system was decommissioned in 2017 due a campus re-design and building expansion at the Platte River Power Authority (PPRA) site. Prior to decommissioning a site visit established the following failure type observations: EVA browning (100%), cracked cells (60%), and cracked wires or grommets (9%, or more if replacements were made selectively on cracked parts). EVA browning is typical in modules of this vintage, whereas the occurrence of so many cracked cells is surprising and is likely weather-related. The fairly frequent occurrence of cracked wires and grommets serves as a reminder that accelerated testing of these components is important for goals of low-cost 50-year energy generation. In smaller numbers, thermal effects (7%), bent frames (1%), and cell corrosion (<1%) were observed. A sample of 20 modules was selected and brought to NREL for in-depth characterization. Because baseline measurements were not available using the nameplate rating, which can be inaccurate, revealed a mean module sample degradation of 0.7 %/year. Sporadic production data during the 30 years determined a system degradation rate closer to 1.2 %/year. Subsequently, four of these modules were re-mounted outdoors at NREL and are now approaching a total lifetime of 34 years.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the PV Reliability Workshop, 22-26 February 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5K00-79039


  • durability
  • lifetime
  • PV
  • reliability


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