Photovoltaic PID Testing
Potential-induced degradation or PID is a failure mode in solar cells caused by voltage stress on the PID module. PID can affect both crystalline and thin-film modules, to an extent depending on the material and environment. Often manufacturers promise PID-free solar cells but still this solar degradation is observed in the field.
In this post, only the shunting type PID (PID-s) will be considered. PID-s is a common degradation that can develop rapidly and can cause severe reductions in module performance, due to the decreased parallel (shunt) resistance (Rp) and a reduction of fill factor (FF). PID can be reversed to some extent if detected in time, so it is crucial to find cheaper methods for detecting PID.
PID testing equipment
Finding low-cost practical means of PID detection can help O&M companies and PV power plant owners in reaching a better return on investment. We, therefore, chose to develop such a practical solution at EmaZys Technologies.
Detection of solar panel PID – a case study
A residential PV plant located in Southern Denmark, with a total installed capacity of 9.36 kW, was inspected for faults since the plant experienced a dramatic loss in power generation compared to the installed power.
The plant consists of a total of 36 c-Si panels connected in 3 strings with each having 12 modules in series. The strings are connected to an SMA inverter, limited to 6 kW due to grid connectivity rules. The converter has two maximum power point tracker (MPPT) inputs, thus one string is connected to MPPT2 while the other two are paralleled at MPPT1. See the layout of the PV system in FIGURE 1 below.
A PV analyzer from EmaZys (Z100), was used to detect the shunting level of the panels. The best performing panel and worst five performing panels have been selected for laboratory testing with the purpose to evaluate the module health state, and evaluate the robustness of the EmaZys PV Analyzer PID detection capabilities.
The laboratory Electroluminescence (EL) imaging and I-V characterization tests confirm that this is a case of PID of shunting type. The maximum power has dropped significantly from the datasheet rating, as well as the fill factor. The figures below show EL measurements, confirming the suspected degradation in this case. The pattern is consistent with PID – see FIGURE 2 and 3 below.
The shunt resistance determined by Impedance Spectroscopy in the lab can be seen in FIGURE 4. It shows a good correlation with the light I-V measurement results sees in FIGURE 5. Clearly, panel 60406 was almost not degraded, while the 5 other panels pointed out by the Z100 were severely infected by PID.
In this short technical overview, we saw how the Solar PV Test Equipment from EmaZys Technologies (Z100 and Z200) may be used for field detection of solar modules suffering from Potential Induced Degradation. To download the full article and learn more about EmaZys PV Analyzers, please click below.
The Z200 PV Analyzer from EmaZys Technologies is a PV tester based on impedance measurements. It is an unconventional but highly cost-effective testing method for solar PV Array Troubleshooting. Our aim is to bring down the cost of solar electricity by lowering the service and maintenance costs. We do this by offering innovative testing equipment for any solar PV technician, solar O&M, etc.