A home PV solar power system harnesses the sun’s energy to provide you with free solar electricity for decades.
But photovoltaic arrays are continually exposed to the elements. Consequently, they may degrade and lose a bit of efficiency over time. Corrosion is often to blame for degradation, as rust can affect the critical electronic connections within the panels, reducing the amount of energy they can produce.
But just how much does corrosion affect your photovoltaic system’s performance?
Anything that contains metal is susceptible to corrosion — including metal photovoltaic components.
Photovoltaic modules are designed to last for decades as the solar cells and their electrical components are protected by sealants, encapsulating polymers and strong, tempered glass. But as time goes on, water vapor and airborne chemicals can get inside and cause rust degradation.
Fortunately, metals corrode faster in hot, humid environments, such as those found in tropical and coastal regions. In the less humid climate of the Intermountain West, photovoltaic system corrosion is much slower to occur.
Sandia National Laboratories is leading a Department of Energy SunShot Initiative project aimed at studying how corrosion affects PV system performance. As part of the Durable Module Materials (DuraMat) Consortium, Sandia researchers are seeking ways to increase PV component reliability and hasten the development of new, less-degradable photovoltaic materials.
By accelerating corrosion under controlled conditions, researchers hope to determine whether corroded connections in PV panels can be minimized or eliminated. Scientists expect to learn more about how to create longer-lasting components through the use of these specialized corrosion chambers.
Other SunShot Consortium corrosion research is focused on analyzing PV panel installations to determine how much energy output has been lost as a result of corroded components. Sandia scientists are also looking to design nano-composite films that can be used to protect against photovoltaic system rust.
The SunShot Consortium research could lead to the development of new photovoltaic materials that are more resistant to corrosion.
However, any marketable results are many years away. Scientific research and product development take time — it could be a decade or more before less corrosive solar components are ready for manufacturing. In fact, the research may not ultimately provide any actionable results.
Waiting for unknown next-generation PV solar technology won’t provide any benefit if your goal is to save money now. Solar costs are at an all-time low, and financial incentives for installing a photovoltaic array are rapidly disappearing. When you choose a solar installer that uses high-quality PV solar panels and mounting components, degradation over time is minimal.
Adopting solar now makes sound financial sense. The professional team of Intermountain Wind & Solar, the leading photovoltaic contractor serving Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho, can design a cost-effective and efficient solar array to power your home. Contact us today to start planning your PV solar energy system.
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