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Systems Engineering

We provide engineering testing and evaluation of photovoltaic (PV) products developed by companies during work sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). We determine if products meet performance criteria established by DOE for a company's contractual obligations.

Tools and Capabilities

  • PV Module-Level Power Electronics Characterization. This work studies appropriate methods and metrics for reporting the overall power conversion efficiency of module-level power electronics, such as micro-inverters and DC-DC converters.

Projects

Current activities are funded by the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office including the following SuNLaMP projects:

  • Performance Models and Standards for Bifacial PV Module Technologies.¬† This effort is in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Iowa.¬†Periodic research updates are available on Sandia's PVPMC website.¬†
  • Advanced Thermal Management for Higher Module Power Output
  • Regional Test Center Operations. This effort also supports other SuNLaMP, PREDICTS, and PVRD projects. This work is closely coordinated with the work of PVQAT and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to hasten the development and adoption of international standards, and leverages the RTC facilities.
  • Standards Development for Photovoltaic Reliability. In collaboration with PVQAT, the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) at NREL supports the development of comprehensive standards for PV reliability using a three-pronged strategy focused on:
    • Establishing qualification methods for durability of PV module design with a chosen climate and mounting system;
    • Developing a guide for auditing quality management systems toward consistent manufacturing of PV modules built to that design;
    • Ensuring adequacy of design, installation, and operation through a certification process for system verification.

As a near-term aid in improving PV reliability, NREL has developed the Qualification Plus Testing method. The elements of Qualification Plus are being implemented in international standards.

Laboratory personnel participate in writing and discussing reliability, safety, and test and evaluation standards—primarily with IEC Technical Committee 82 (Working Groups 2, 3, 6, and 7), but also with a number of other standards organizations including the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Underwriters Laboratories, and TUV Rheinland. This work is done in partnership with Solar ABCs. NREL researchers work through the International Photovoltaic (PV) Quality Assurance (QA) Task Force to effectively leverage the knowledge of the broader PV community toward developing comprehensive PV standards.

Each year, NREL researchers, along with solar companies and other national lab researchers, participate in an industry workshop on PV reliability, conducted to encourage exchange of information about PV reliability. Proceedings of past workshops are available.

Photovoltaic Reliability Publications

The NCPV publishes PV reliability journal articles, technical reports, conference papers, and outreach documents. The following NCPV publications can be found on the following topics by clicking on the names of the researchers below.