Today’s Solutions: April 18, 2024

At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, teams of scientists and researchers spend large parts of their day jumping on, twisting, smashing, and generally coming up with various ways of breaking solar panels

It’s not malice, it’s not incompetence. It’s not even the latest stress release fad. Nope, it’s research! The goal is to understand how solar panels endure natural elements, how they fail, and how the team can prevent common types of failure. 

Many solar providers give very lengthy guarantees on the longevity of their panels. The NREL puts that to the test. They want to ensure that the 30-to-50-year guarantee that providers mention is accurate. 

Chemist and project leader Laura Schelhas said in an interview with Inside Climate News

“We have aspects of what we do that is in data and data handling data analytics. And then we have research in modeling, asking questions like, ’Can we use models to understand failure and even predict the lifetime of materials?’ That predicting is really, really hard, and something that we’re starting to focus on a lot.

“Another thing we’re doing is accelerated testing in an intelligent way. So, if a product is meant to last for 30 years, you can’t put something new outside and wait for 30 years to determine whether or not it’s going to be a durable product. A lot of times, we turn to accelerated testing, to kind of be our time machine for us.”

What helpful things are we learning from broken solar panels? 

The work at the NREL is important for figuring out common and fixable flaws in solar panels. It also explores necessary issues in scaling solar energy to meet societal goals in reducing carbon emissions. It’s important to understand the threshold of replacement vs. longevity. While replacing old panels with new more efficient ones might make sense in some cases, it’s also important to consider the cost and materials involved in installing new panels. Testing and understanding the resiliency and breaking points in solar panels gives us a heads up on what to look out for and to prepare fixes for the most common issues. 

It’s also good for the consumer, establishing base-line knowledge of a solar panel’s typical lifespan.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

The story “pedal”-er: how an ice-cream cart library is changing lives in Karachi

Mohammad Noman bikes carefully and purposefully through the labyrinthine lanes of Karachi's Lyari Town, among the rush and bustle of everyday life. Though his ...

Read More

Scientists astonished to find 700 new species in Cambodia’s mysterious ...

Embark on a journey to discover the hidden riches concealed beneath Cambodia's mangrove forests, where nature thrives against the backdrop of endangered landscapes. A ...

Read More

4 simple ways to feel at your absolute best this summer

The sunshine of summer is enough to make you feel better than you usually do throughout the year. But with a few changes to ...

Read More

Indians recently planted 250 million trees—while socially distancing

India is committed to keeping a third of its total land area under forest and tree cover. In recent years the country has mobilized ...

Read More