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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Review of photovoltaic module energy yield (k W h/k W ): comparison of crystalline S i and thin film technologies

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The energy yield (kWh/kWSTC) reported from photovoltaic (PV) installations were reviewed to look for consistent trends in performance between module technologies. The effect of higher operating temperature and lower light intensity are discussed in terms of different locations and module technologies. Both of these losses can favor thin film PV under controlled laboratory conditions but may not be significant under real field conditions. As received, PV modules suffer from a minimum ±5% uncertainty because of binning (±3%) and calibration (±2%). Differences between initial nameplate kWSTC and the actual field‐tested values cause larger uncertainty. Thin film modules suffer additional uncertainty because of calibration and stabilization issues. A recent study comparing 12 different module technologies in Nicosia and Stuttgart concluded that when properly measured and stabilized, thin film technologies could have a 1–4% advantage because of smaller temperature losses and 3% advantage due to improved low light efficiency but the tolerances and uncertainty in kW rating were greater at ±5–10%. Energy yield data from utility scale installations in sunny hot locations finds that CdTe outperforms c‐Si by ∼5–6%. Data for a‐Si is complicated by initial versus stabilized module ratings and summer annealing. Gains with Cu(InGa)Se2 (CIGS) are expected to be even less than CdTe or a‐Si. Analysis of data‐driven simulation finds at best a few percent advantage in kWh/kW for thin films. We conclude that any differences between thin film and c‐Si module technologies are much smaller than reported previously, and are often smaller than the measurement uncertainty especially between different locations.

This article is categorized under:

  • Photovoltaics > Science and Materials
  • Photovoltaics > Economics and Policy
  • Photovoltaics > Systems and Infrastructure
  • Energy Infrastructure > Science and Materials
Annual energy yield YF reported from two ‘early’ studies showing yield for various module technologies in Mallorca, Spain (sunniest), Lugano, Switzerland (moderate), and Oxford, United Kingdom (least sunny). Values represent average for all modules of that technology. a‐Si includes 1J, 2J, and 3J cell technology. The two thin film technologies appear to outperform the two c‐Si technologies by 16–21% in all three locations.
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YF from different technologies in Nicosia, Cyprus and Stuttgart, Germany from Ref 16. The difference between a, b, and c is how the rated kW power was determined: (a) manufacturer rating; (b) flash test measurement; (c) in‐field six months stabilization. Error bars decrease accordingly. See the text. (Reproduced with permission from Ref 16. Copyright 2010, IEEE.)
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Increase in YF for LLE = 1.05 and TCE = −0.25%/°C compared to Si baseline of LLE = 0.95 and TCE = −0.45%/°C for cities with very different climate: Munich (Germany) with Y= 1337 kWh/m2 and Albuquerque (United States) with YR = 2335 kWh/m2. LLE, low light efficiency; TCE, temperature coefficient. (Created using data from Ref 46.)
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DC kWh/kW for nine systems installed in Nicosia versus plane‐of‐array irradiance in 100 W/m2 bins. Insert shows the low light efficiency results for the 400 W bin with average value 91 kWh/k .
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YF and performance ratio for 20 arrays of 10–30 kW in Hokuto, Japan monitored from April 2008 to March 2009. (Created using data from Ref 38.)
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YF versus efficiency for 10 arrays ∼1 kW installed in Tucson, the UnitedStates. Data was averaged over 2010. Average Y∼ 2550 kWh/m2. (Created using data from Ref 35.)
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AC YF versus efficiency for 11 arrays of ∼1 kW installed in Nicosia Cyprus and Stuttgart Germany. Data was averaged over 2007–2009 after six months stabilization in 2006. Each y‐axis covers the same range (300 kWh/kW) but different absolute values. Average values for all modules in each location are shown. (Created using data from Ref 16.)
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AC YF versus efficiency for 11 arrays of ∼1 kW installed in Nicosia, Cyprus. Data was averaged over 2007–2009 after six months stabilization in 2006. Average H ∼ 2000 kWh/m2. Value for the 2J a‐Si was partially compromised due to installation problems. The y‐axis data was obtained by normalizing with the locally measured ‘flash’ test efficiency, which reduces scatter due to binning. (Created using data from Ref 16.)
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DC YF (kWh/kW) for five systems ∼1.8 kW in Zurich obtained over 12 months. (Created using data from Ref 14.)
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