Updated: Nov 28, 2020
This solar installation is located in one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. The solar installation image on the left was taken in mid-2017, 3 years after we went to the same location and we found this (image on the right). What possibly could go wrong here of this solar installation within 3 years apart? Let's discuss one of the many components that went wrong in the above picture.
We always talk about solar module and its aesthetic features on the front side and forget about what is behind the mono-facial solar module, the white backsheet. Click here to learn the difference between mono-facial and bi-facial solar module. The backsheet is the first line of defense against air and moisture which can corrode electrical components. Cracking, delamination (peeling), and abrasion are all symptoms of backsheet failure which impact the mechanical properties of the solar module. A study shows 9 percent of all module failures are related to the backsheet component .
In the United States, a recurring solar module faulty were found in its utility large scale solar sites within less than 10 years installation. It is found these large scale solarprojects experienced accelerated degradation rates due to cheap backsheets sourced by solar module manufacturers trying to keep up with increased module demand. If only they are using the correct backsheet then only the large-scale solar project should be lasting 20-30 years. Backsheet as one can imagine play a vital role to protect solar cell from outside forces such as moisture and UV light. It is often too late to save the solar module once a visible sign of backsheet failure is observed. Very soon, the power production will drop and the solar module may be at risk of complete failure not to mention the potential hazard due to leaking electricity. The cheap backsheet of solar module is particular vulnerable at a high humid and high temperature and prolong extensive length of sun exposure such as, MALAYSIA.
The cheap backsheet recipe are still exist now. Even when you are buying a new module, the solar module manufacturer may adopt the cheap backsheet recipe into their solar module production. Hence, when you buy this new solar module and install these solar modules particularly in Malaysia with high humidity, high temperature and prolong sun exposure; please expect your solar module to fail prematurely.
What if you already bought and installed your new solar module (with the old backsheet recipe) and you observed your solar module performance is degrading?
The ideal option is to replace the backsheet with the latest recipe. But, of course the company will have to invest the labor associated with it. Is that even feasible? What about warranty? If the faulty backsheet problem falls and caught in that 10-year workmanship warranty window? Can you apply the warranty yourself? What is the procedure? What other cost that you have to pay?
If you are a residential home owner, and a solar salesman is persistent selling installation of solar system to you, be diligent, ask your solar salesman / solar installer what warranty you are entitled to.
To know more in details come join us. We are excited to announce our technical R&D solar photovoltaics classes in collaboration with Malaysia legal firm, First in Malaysia.