SDLE SunFarm
Global SunFarm Network
Automated Image Processing

A Data-driven Approach to Real-world Degradation of Backsheets

Overview of the project

As photovoltaic (PV) power sources become increasingly prevalent in utility- and commercial-scale electricity production it is paramount to understand the factors controlling a PV module’s degradation and lifetime performance. Polymeric backsheets protect the modules from environmental degradation and provide electrical insulation, but the backsheet materials themselves are susceptible to degradation over time which can lead to power loss and module failure. A more detailed understanding of backsheet degradation in fielded PV modules can enable targeted maintenance, material improvements, and longer service life for photovoltaic systems. The goal of this project is to observe backsheet degradation in commercial PV power plants so as to understand the effects of material choices, climate, and microclimate on the lifetime of modules. Therefore, a statistically informed field survey protocol has been created to collect in situ backsheet degradation measurement data. The end result of data collection will be spatio-temporal models of the degradation predictors observed during the surveys. These models will include factors based on the location of the measurement, material type, the length of exposure, and the local climate. These models can then be used to predict and schedule maintenance for high degradation areas or be used to design new PV power plant site architectures that minimizes certain exposure routes. 

Members and collaborators

Roger H. French (Principal Investigator and Kyocera Professor, CWRU)

Laura S. Bruckman (Research Associate Professor, CWRU)

Raymond J. Wieser (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, CWRU)

Stephanie L. Moffitt (National Institute of Standards & Technology)

Ruben Zabalza (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.)

Xiaohong Gu (National Institute of Standards & Technology)

Colleen O’Brien (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.)

Liang Ji (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.)

Adam W. Hauser (Arkema)

Greg S. O'Brien (Arkema)

Michael D. Kempe (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Jared Tracy (DuPont Inc.)

Kausik R. Choudhury (DuPont Inc.)

William J. Gambogi (DuPont Inc.)

Kenneth P. Boyce (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.)



PVSC 47 evaluation abstract submission 



a. 2020 SETO Poster Session


b. PVRW 2020 Poster Session 


This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Agreement Number DE-EE0008748.