Photovoltaic Failure and Degradation Modes

Dirk C. Jordan, Timothy J. Silverman, John H. Wohlgemuth, Sarah R. Kurtz, Kaitlyn T. VanSant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus Citations


The extensive photovoltaic field reliability literature was analyzed and reviewed. Future work is prioritized based upon information assembled from recent installations, and inconsistencies in degradation mode identification are discussed to help guide future publication on this subject. Reported failure rates of photovoltaic modules fall mostly in the range of other consumer products; however, the long expected useful life of modules may not allow for direct comparison. In general, degradation percentages are reported to decrease appreciably in newer installations that are deployed after the year 2000. However, these trends may be convoluted with varying manufacturing and installation quality world-wide. Modules in hot and humid climates show considerably higher degradation modes than those in desert and moderate climates, which warrants further investigation. Delamination and diode/j-box issues are also more frequent in hot and humid climates than in other climates. The highest concerns of systems installed in the last 10 years appear to be hot spots followed by internal circuitry discoloration. Encapsulant discoloration was the most common degradation mode, particularly in older systems. In newer systems, encapsulant discoloration appears in hotter climates, but to a lesser degree. Thin-film degradation modes are dominated by glass breakage and absorber corrosion, although the breadth of information for thin-film modules is much smaller than for x-Si.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)318-326
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5J00-67238


  • degradation modes
  • durability
  • failure
  • failure rate
  • photovoltaic modules
  • reliability


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