NREL Outdoor Accelerated-weathering Tracking System and Photovoltaic Module Exposure Results

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper describes the Outdoor Accelerated-weathering Tracking System (OATS) and interim results for the first OATS study on photovoltaic (PV) modules. With two test planes measuring 1.52 x 1.83 m, OATS provides a unique solar-concentrating exposure capability. Test sample temperatures are moderated by air blowers. Water spray capability exists for wetting samples. The OATS two- axis trackerpoints to the sun using software calculations. Non-imaging aluminum reflectors give a nominal clear-sky optical concentration ratio of three. Field-qualification measurements in the test plane under reflector conditions showed its relative irradiance non-uniformity was ' 15% for a clear- sky summer day with ' 75 mm as the smallest distance for that non-uniformity. Exposure studies began inNovember 1997 on seven pairs of commercially available ribbon silicon, crystalline silicon and amorphous silicon PV modules kept at constant resistive load. The modules were periodically removed from OATS for visual inspection and solar simulator performance measurements. There were no module failures. This PV module study is ongoing and later results will be compared to other testing techniques. Through July 1998, the modules under reflector conditions received 392 MJ/m2 of total ultraviolet (TUV) exposure. That was 2.07 times the TUV exposure compared to a south-facing fixed array tilted 40 up from horizontal at NREL. Similarly, the modules in the test plane under the covered reflectors received 1.04 times the fixed array TUV exposure. For the test plane under the covered reflectorsthere was a loss of 13% TUV exposure attributed to the reflectors blocking some of the diffuse-sky UV light. Also through July 1998, the OATS sunlight availability measured 95% compared to the cumulative global normal exposure at the NREL Solar Radiation Research Laboratory (SRRL). The OATS sunlight availability losses included downtime when the PV modules were removed, and when there were OATStracking problems, maintenance, and repair. For December 1997 through July 1998, the SRRL cumulative exposure was 99% compared to the respective monthly averages from years 1961 through 1990 at Boulder, Colorado.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 1998
EventNCPV Program Review - Denver, Colorado
Duration: 8 Sep 199811 Sep 1998


ConferenceNCPV Program Review
CityDenver, Colorado

Bibliographical note

Available electronically only

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-520-25351


Dive into the research topics of 'NREL Outdoor Accelerated-weathering Tracking System and Photovoltaic Module Exposure Results'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this