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Investigations on the Main Causes for Reduced Performances during the Early Stage of Life of Rooftop PV Systems
D. Chianese, M. Caccivio
PV Systems and Storage – Modelling, Design, Operation and Performance
Subtopic: Operation, Performance and Maintenance of PV Systems
Event: 37th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 5DO.5.1
ISBN: 3-936338-73-6
0,00 EUR
Document(s): presentation


Durability and reliability of photovoltaic (PV) modules represent an important concern for module manufacturers, PV system installers and particularly for investors interested in a cost-competitive PV system with a reliable and predictable energy production during the modules’ lifetime. The lifespan of a rooftop PV plant can be estimated around 25-30 years, while the oldest plant in Europe, installed at SUPSI, in Lugano, Switzerland, has exceeded 35 years of life [1]. As in any systems, defects and problems typically occur in the early years (childhood problems) and at the end of life of the system itself. A PV rooftop system includes multiple elements whose lifespan depends not only on the reliability of the individual elements but also on design of the whole PV system, on quality of the installation and on maintenance over time [2]. The study of childhood problems includes all aspects that contribute to the operation of a photovoltaic system. During 2019, 30 rooftop PV systems, built in the last 5-7 years, out of a total of approx. 4200 plants in Ticino (1.4% of the installed power in Ticino) were tested in accordance to international standard and inspected in the frame of a research project carried out by SUPSI. The aim of this project was to identify the most relevant critical issues during the early stage of operating life (up to 5-7 years old systems) through a series of inspections on plants with reduced energy yield and located in Ticino, Switzerland. The objectives of the project were manifold: identify, classify and prevent defects that emerge after the first years of operation and correlate them with production at the beginning of life and improve knowledge of observed early stage defects in order to reduce costs and risks for both systems’ owners and installers. The collected and measured data and the knowledge acquired were subsequently summarized and shared through workshops with stakeholders (designers, installers and owners of systems). Actions to reduce risks were proposed, both for existing plants and for new installations. The increase in the production of renewable energy of photovoltaic origin can only be stimulated by improving the quality of design, implementation and maintenance by the operators involved. As a result, the lifespan and reliability of photovoltaic systems will improve and the return on investment will correspond to what is expected.