Installed solar panels “chronically underperforming,” degrading faster than expected

New research shows that solar facilities already in operation are “chronically underperforming” and degrading much faster than experts had originally expected.

According to an article in PV-Tech, a trade association publication for the solar industry, the annual degradation in the field are much higher than expected at around one percent, which is nearly double previous estimates.

The study was not the elaborate brain child of an anti-solar panel kabal, either. In fact, the report cites recent research conducted by both National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as well as a firm known as kWh Analytics, to support its claims.

The report states that over a 20-year asset life, project degradation could therefore be underestimated by as much as 14 percent, resulting in severely overestimated performance and revenue forecasts produced within a P50 model.

Additionally, PV Evolution Labs, which late last month reported its annual Module Reliability Scorecard, finding that solar module failure rates have continued to rise, is also a contributor to the report, noting how small differences in raw materials can impact overall system performance by as much as five percent.

Declining solar panel efficiency has an incredibly important impact on the cost, and reliability of the grid. If solar panels are degrading and underperforming, it means the grid will be more expensive and less reliable than planned.

In the real world, this will have big implications for Xcel Energy’s and Great River Energy’s plans to prematurely shut down their coal plants and rely on an expensive combination of wind, turbines, solar panels and natural gas power plants.

Wind and solar special interest groups are pushing for more wind and solar, but they oppose new natural gas plants. These groups have presented faulty modeling to state regulators to fudge the numbers by assuming unrealistically high solar output in Minnesota.

Center of the American Experiment is fighting for sanity regarding our electric grid by arguing we should keep our existing coal plants open for the rest of their useful lives. After this time, we can gradually shift to reliable nuclear power plants that will provide reliable, affordable energy with minimal environmental impacts.