Funding Opportunity: Physics of Reliability: Evaluating Design Insights for Component Technologies in Solar (PREDICTS)

By May 1, 2013 No Comments

With the PREDICTS funding opportunity announcement, DOE is seeking applications in two distinct and separate topic areas:

1) identification, evaluation and modeling of intrinsic failure mechanisms in photovoltaic and concentrating solar power sub-systems and system components

2) development of standard testing procedures for the lifetime of microinverters and microconverters, both stand alone and module integrated.

Topic 1
Solar energy system component lifetime and reliability evaluations must transition from a correlation-based approach to a causation-based approach. This transition will require the development of physics-based models that allow for the accurate and precise determination of the lifetime and the failure/degradation mechanisms of solar installation systems and components based upon their fundamental composition, method of assembly, and (accelerated) environmental exposure conditions. In describing the causation of system/component failure, such models will need to evaluate the probability of discrete, indivisible event sequences occurring in concert within the system or component and affecting a macroscopic failure. An in-depth understanding of the chemistry and physics that constitute these event quanta will inform the improvement of current systems and components and also guide the development of future systems and components. The ultimate goal is to accurately predict and extend system and component lifetimes, increase their reliability, decrease risk, accelerate research, and reduce the costs of systems and components used in solar field installations.

Topic 2
The scope of this topic area includes the collaborative development and initial implementation of industry standard tests for microinverter and microconverter reliability in stand-alone and module-integrated configurations. Test development should utilize a sound physical understanding of failure mechanisms and degradation modes. Extensive laboratory and field testing should be incorporated to validate the tests and test protocols that are developed and to ensure broad applicability across the industry. The outcomes of a project should be:

1) a documented and validated set of standard tests and protocols for accurately determining the lifetime and failure rates of microinverters and microconverters

2) initial implementation of the these tests and protocols as a standard.

For more information, see the full solicitation.