Around the nation, people are growing more interested in changing their way of life to be more sustainable. From the energy point of view, the easiest method to switch to clean, sustainable energy is to go to solar energy!
When you decide to invest in a PV solar plant, it's important to understand the expected lifespan of solar panels and determine whether a solar power system is worth the investment for your home or business.
Below, we will answer the question of how long solar panels last and how you can make them last longer to capture the most sun irradiance.
The industry standard for a solar panel's productive lifetime is 25–30 years. There will be degradation during years of operation, but it is acceptable. However, a solar panel will not die after 25–30 years but we do not have a clear power estimation after it. Hence, manufacturers and investors focus on the standard period.
What is the degradation rate of solar panels?
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), degradation is 'the reduction in solar panel output over time ' Hence, Degradation has a significant role in determining how long your solar panels will endure. Though the degradation rate varies from brand to brand, premium manufacturers like AE Solar offer degradation rates as low as 0.6. you can refer to chart 1.
Solar panel degradation rates are constantly improving as the technology gets better over the years but today degradation rates below 1% are common throughout the industry.
Chart 1: Relative Guaranteed Power(%) per Year
Any PV lifetime is represented on the manufacturer’s performance guarantee. For instance, a 510 W AE Solar module, produces at least 431.46 W under standard testing conditions after 25 years.
What affects the solar panel degradation rate?
A solar panel's lifespan can be affected by several variables. Some of those factors consist of:
A PV module’s components, including the solar glass, aluminum frame, and solar cells used in the panel, can fail if they are low quality. AE solar just employs Grade A solar cells, which have the least flaws in the beginning and will degrade the slowest. Typically, such modules have just a positive power tolerance. As you can see in Figure 1.
Figure1: Electrical Specifications
Correct storage and handling of the panels before and during installation is significant to avoid damage. Microcracks and scratches that could happen to incorrect storage or handling, affect the panel’s performance. It is recommended to refer to the manufacturer manual to see proper storage, handling, etc.
One of the main benefits of solar panels, besides the potential for savings and the environmental advantages, is that they require relatively little maintenance. However, taking care of your solar panels can be beneficial if you want to increase their longevity. For instance, dust not only obstructs the solar irradiance on the PV module but also in the harsh area it can scratch the panel like sandpaper. Hence, watching and keeping them clean guarantees their performance.
Can you extend the lifespan of your solar panels?
As you can see, some of the factors that lead to solar panel degradation are controllable., There are a few steps you can do to help maximize the lifespan of your solar panels. Like buying high-quality solar panels, ensuring they’re installed correctly, and carrying out regular maintenance.
When should I schedule solar panel replacement?
Solar panels do not carry an expiration date, but the main indication that it's time to replace your solar panels is if the panels are broken or don't produce as much energy as expected by the initial design.
When a PV module reaches the end of its lifespan, can it be recycled?
when the panels reach the end of their power-generating lifespan and need to be replaced, they are still of value. Rather than sending waste solar panels to landfill, recycling can extract most of the valuable components and raw materials for the production of new panels or use in other industries, where silicon is increasingly being used in lithium-ion battery anodes.
Author: Aseel Rayyan