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Accelerated Testing and Analysis

Tools and Capabilities

  • Accelerated Testing of Modules. To conduct accelerated testing of modules, the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) at NREL maintains and operates a collection of environmental chambers (see Indoor Testing) for applying humidity, heat, electrical bias, white light, and ultraviolet (UV) light. The chambers accommodate modules of variable sizes. We use of these chambers to develop new tests that quantitatively correlate with field failure rates.
  • Accelerated Testing of Components and Materials. The NCPV maintains and operates hardware for testing small test components and materials. We can apply up to about 40 suns of UV intensity while controlling the temperature and humidity and up to about 1,000 suns of UV in an uncontrolled environment. Rapid thermal cycling of small components with variable electrical bias is also available.


Current activities are funded by the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office including the following SuNLaMP projects:

  • Scientific Approach to Reducing PV Module Material Costs While Increasing Durability
  • Support of International PV Module Quality Assurance Task Force (PVQAT). 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.
  • Standards Development for Photovoltaic Reliability. In collaboration with PVQAT, the NCPV is supporting 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, the NCPV 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. NCPV researchers work through the International Photovoltaic (PV) Quality Assurance (QA) Task Force (PVQAT) to effectively leverage the knowledge of the broader PV community toward developing comprehensive PV standards.

Each year, NCPV 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.

  • Nick Bosco: Thermal and mechanical fatigue, and measurement of adhesion
  • Peter Hacke: Potential-induced degradation, accelerated lifetime testing and modeling
  • Mike Kempe: Weathering of polymeric materials
  • David Miller: Weathering and characterization of PV packaging materials
  • Ingrid Repins: CIGS reliability
  • Timothy Silverman: Modeling and testing of the effects of partial shade