Hussain Al Mahdi, Paul G. Leahy, Mohammad Alghoul, Alan P. Morrison

A Review of Photovoltaic Module Failure and Degradation Mechanisms: Causes and Detection Techniques

  • General Medicine

With the global increase in the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) modules in recent years, the need to explore and understand their reported failure mechanisms has become crucial. Despite PV modules being considered reliable devices, failures and extreme degradations often occur. Some degradations and failures within the normal range may be minor and not cause significant harm. Others may initially be mild but can rapidly deteriorate, leading to catastrophic accidents, particularly in harsh environments. This paper conducts a state-of-the-art literature review to examine PV failures, their types, and their root causes based on the components of PV modules (from protective glass to junction box). It outlines the hazardous consequences arising from PV module failures and describes the potential damage they can bring to the PV system. The literature reveals that each component is susceptible to specific types of failure, with some components deteriorating on their own and others impacting additional PV components, leading to more severe failures. Finally, this review briefly summarises PV failure detection techniques, emphasising the significance of electrical characterisation techniques and underlining the importance of considering more electrical parameters. Most importantly, this review identifies the most prevalent degradation processes, laying the foundation for further investigation by the PV research community through modelling and experimental studies. This allows for early detection by comparing PV performance when failures or degradation occur to prevent serious progression. It is worth noting that most of the studies included in this review primarily focus on detailing failures and degradation observed in PV operations, which can be attributed to various factors, including the manufacturing process and other external influences. Hence, they provide explanations of these failure mechanisms and causes but do not extensively explore corrective actions or propose solutions based on either laboratory experiments or real-world experience. Although, within this field of study, there are corresponding studies that have designed experiments to suggest preventive measures and potential solutions, an in-depth review of those studies is beyond the scope of this paper. However, this paper, in turn, serves as a valuable resource for scholars by confining PV failures to critically evaluate available studies for preventative measures and corrective actions.

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