Monday, November 19, 2012

Poorly made PV modules hurting Solar PV industry?

If you are producing, say, Chevrolet vehicles, do you accept a one-in-every-100 defective cars or 1% defect rate? I bet not.

Renewable Energy World (REW) stated in its recent article that from a factory checks carried out, solar panels defect rate stands at 8.8% on average. That is almost one in every ten panels!

The checks are done immediately after the panels roll out of the plants and the spread is from 5.5% to 22%.  That is a very bad and worrying defect trend. As if 5.5% isn't bad enough, it is amazing that some manufacturers continue to produce panels at 22% defect rate! How is that possible, and how is that profitable?

Broken solar panels

This is tarnishing the reputation of one of the most exciting and interesting sources of renewable energy - Solar Power.

REW reported the common source of failures which include:

1) The use of substandard materials for:
  • metal contact lines,
  • backsheets and encapsulants for protecting panel from UV radiation,
  • encapsulants for protection from other environmental damage,
  • cable insulators.
2) Poor workmanship during the soldering process when connecting the cells together inside a panel.

Who will be on the losing end?

Common sense tells us that it does not require a second fault to discourage people from buying the same product. One failure is good enough (or bad enough, in this context) to keep a keen-head away from an uncharted territory. And solar PV industry is still 'uncharted' business venture until today.

Remember, people are still trying to chart the business model of solar PV and there's no curve yet that is acceptable to the majority.

So, not only the buyers (enterprises or individuals) will shy away from investing, but the industry as a whole will suffer. Financing will become harder to come by, and the only driving factor to push Solar PV forward is politics. Governments are forced to enforce unrealistic FIT schemes for a short term sustenance and it will become very expensive to maintain.

Where is my 20-year warranty on Solar Panel?

Until such time that corner-cuttings and the unrealistic governmental supports to every-tom-dick-and-harry manufacturers come to an end, we will continue to have a lot of 5-year rather than 20-year warranted panels.

On the same token we can ask our Malaysia Government on the currently on-going Solar-hybrid power supply for the rural folks. It is a known fact that many of the solar PV systems (hybrid or stand-alone) fail after only few years in operation. Was this due to poor maintenance or as a result of lousy solar panels/components?

Read the article by REW and the interesting discussion by industry players here.


Wak Gelas™ said...

wak blom terpk nk pasang solar power kat rumahh.. uuuHUu

btw, kalo kat Pontianak, 'solar' maksudnye minyak diesel yee.. ehhHe

de engineur said...

Solar = diesel
Baru tahu harini.