Reliability and System Performance

NREL's photovoltaic (PV) reliability and system performance research focuses on R&D to improve PV technologies and more accurately predict system performance over time.

Our PV reliability research and development provides companies with the information they need to improve PV product lifetime, availability, and performance and decrease the operation and maintenance costs of PV systems. Independent efficiency measurement and certified testing of module performance can be obtained through our device performance efforts.

NREL's reliability and systems performance researchers work with companies and standards organizations around the world to create the foundation for a healthy PV industry. Scientific studies elucidate the performance, degradation, and failure of PV systems, guiding the development of tests and test standards that can aid in the expansion of the PV industry. Each year, we also conduct an industry PV Reliability Workshop to encourage the exchange of information about PV reliability. Proceedings of past PV Reliabilty Workshops are available.

In April 2024, NREL is hosting a workshop on the reliability of PV inverters to foster focused discussion on this equipment category.

Aerial showing the Outdoor Test Facility (OTF).

Photovoltaic Performance

We study long-term performance, reliability, and failures of PV components and systems, both at NREL and through collaborations elsewhere.

Photovoltaics solar simulator testing of photovoltaics panel.

Accelerated Testing and Analysis

We subject PV modules, inverters, and components to stressors such as thermal cycling, heat, moisture, mechanical loading, system voltage, and ultraviolet or full-spectrum light to provide early indications of design or material weaknesses and potential failure modes.

PV panels at NREL's outdoor test facility.

System Performance

We work to increase the accuracy and precision of energy yield predictions for new technologies. Our work includes the quantification of bifacial module and system performance, thermal management, and the PV proving grounds.

Working with Us

DuraMAT logo

The DuraMAT—or Durable Module Materials—Consortium brings together national laboratories, universities, and PV supply-chain industries to discover, develop, de-risk, and enable the commercialization of new materials and designs for PV modules. This grand goal could enable a levelized cost of electricity of less than $0.03/kWh.

NREL sets PV reliability and system performance priorities based on which efforts will best help the PV industry grow. We welcome partnerships with industry toward achieving this goal. To have the highest impact, our intention is to publish in the open literature. Companies wishing to keep all results confidential will be asked to pay for the work. Generally, we find that it is in everyone's best interest to publish reliability studies (with proprietary details omitted) so the wider PV community may learn from them.

We offer companies opportunities to leverage our research expertise and encourage interested parties to learn about working with us.

This work is coordinated with parallel international efforts through the International PV Quality Assurance Task Force.


Teresa Barnes

Group Research Manager III—Materials Science