Modeling shows the true cost of heat on solar PV system performance

Solar power complex in California [USA. Gov – BLM – Bureau of Land Management]

It was already known that PV systems dislike high heat, which is clearly awkward when they depend on the biggest heat source in the *solar* system in order to be of any use. This study tries to quantify the problem in more detail. On the face of it, carpeting desert regions with solar panels looks less than ideal.
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Lowering the operating temperature of solar panels by just a few degrees can dramatically increase the electricity they generate over their lifetime, KAUST researchers have shown.

The hotter a panel gets, the lower its solar power conversion efficiency (PCE) and the faster it will degrade and fail, says TechXplore.

Finding ways to keep solar panels cool could significantly improve the return on investment of solar-power systems.

The long-standing focus of photovoltaics (PV) research has been to improve solar modules’ PCE and make solar power more cost-competitive than nonrenewable power generation. The higher the PCE, the better the PV system’s financial payback over its lifetime or the lower its “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE).

Other factors can skew these LCOE values. Capturing sunlight is inherently hot work. “All solar cells generate heat, which can lower the electrical output and shorten the module lifetime,” says Lujia Xu, a postdoc in Stefaan De Wolf’s team.

Panels can regularly reach 60-65 degrees Celsius, but heat’s impact on LCOE rarely receives much consideration.

Now, Xu, De Wolf and their colleagues have developed a metric that directly compares the LCOE gains by reducing the module temperature with the LCOE gains for improving module efficiency.

Under typical operating conditions, the same improvement in LCOE by finding a hard-won one percent gain in PCE could be achieved by lowering the module temperature by as little as 3 degrees Celsius, they showed.

The key factor was that hotter panels fail far more rapidly.

“A 4 degrees Celsius decrease in module temperature would improve the module time to failure by more than 50 percent, and this improvement increases to over 100 percent with a 7 degrees Celsius reduction,” says Xu.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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March 8, 2021 at 12:42PM

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