Researchers explore ways to make solar panels affordable, long lasting

15 May 2017, 03:43 PM
Solar Panel - File Photo
Solar Panel - File Photo

Researchers have conducted a recent study where they have used data science to establish and predict the effects of exposure to weather and other conditions on solar panels.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Gebze Technical University (GTU) in Turkey, has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

This study which used data science to predict the deterioration of solar panels could help in solving new ways of extending their lifetime according to the researchers. "This makes the cost of solar energy -- in this case -- better and easier to understand," said Case Western Reserve Professor Laura Bruckman, who directed the study with Abdulkerim Gok, a research associate at GTU formerly with Case Western Reserve."If solar modules last 50 years, and science can back that up," she said, "it will make solar energy more affordable by decreasing the dollar-per-watt of electricity generation."

The study is titled "Predictive models of poly (ethylene-terephthalate) film degradation under multi-factor accelerated weathering exposures." The study combines both statistical data analytics and engineering epidemiology to develop predictive models for applications which ae exposed to the environment. While the solar energy market is continuously expanding, and growing, the reliability and sustainability of solar energy systems is still a challenge. The polymeric components of solar panels must be very stable during long term outdoor use.

In solar panels, PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) is a common polymer at the back of the of the module and acts an environmental barrier and insulates people from getting an electric shock should they touch a module.

In the SDLE Research Centre at Case Western Reserve, the PET samples were subjected to different extreme weathering conditions. 

Under the guidance of Case Western Reserve Professor Jiayang Sun, in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, fixed and mixed effect modelling were used to predict the responses of different PET Films to degradation.

The journal explains how the material science degradation of PET Films used as an environmental barrier in solar panels were studied using application of data science methods. This is necessary to study the life of solar panels.

First Published: Monday, May 15, 2017 03:39 PM

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