From less than 10 gigawatts (GW) worldwide in 2006, installed solar PV capacity reached nearly 300 GW in 2016. More than 71 GW were added in 2016, with over USD 113 billion invested in solar energy technologies.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), to further the growth of this sector, it is now crucial to ensure the quality of photovoltaic technologies: in this way, in addition to improving the performance and durability of these technologies, the capital needed to invest in the PV industry is reduced and investments are promoted. In a report dedicated to the quality of photovoltaic infrastructures, IRENA used the results that Eurac Research collected, together with a consortium of companies and research centers within the Solarbankability project.
Analyzing data partly coming from South Tyrolean companies such as Elpo, Solar Living, OET, and Alperia, Eurac Research researchers created a risk map that categorizes over 140 possible technical errors in large and medium-sized photovoltaic parks. These failures can arise in different activity phases - from system planning, to start-up to full operation - and in several components. For example, they could affect photovoltaic modules, cables, or the inverter, which is the heart of a photovoltaic plant. To the handbook that categorizes the risk of failure or error, researchers combined other tools that allow for the assessment of the economic impacts associated with these risks so that the right steps can be taken. Among these are the guidelines to follow in order to prevent or limit damage in case of failure.