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Low-cost Defect Detection of Solar Cells by Electroluminescence Imaging

Wilson, Nicholas (2017) Low-cost Defect Detection of Solar Cells by Electroluminescence Imaging. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Solar panels experience a reduction in efficiency as they age due to the variable physical conditions they are exposed to throughout their lifetime, transport and installation. This exposure, due to a combination of effects such as thermal cycling and moisture, can cause a number of defects in the panels, including: cracks in, and non-uniform degradation of, the photoactive material; breakages in the current collectors; and contact finger interruptions (Mansouri 2012, Spertino, Ciocia et al. 2015).

It is therefore of great interest to detect and monitor this degradation process in order to be able to determine with greater precision, the total lifetime of the cells, as the trend of cell cost as a fraction of the module cost declines (Blakers 2015).

Several technologies exist to assess the degradation of solar panel, I-V curves, lock-in-thermography imaging and its derivatives and electroluminescence (EL) imaging. I-V curves are generated by flashing the panel with light and recording the power output that results. Lock-in-thermography looks at the heat generated by the panel and those areas that are defective, such as local short circuits, that dissipate onto the module some of the power generated (Breitenstein, Bauer et al. 2007).

EL works by reversing the role of the panel by putting power through it and making it behave as a light emitting diode instead of a photodiode (Petraglia and Nardone 2011). A typical EL setup is shown in Figure 1.1. The power is supplied by a current source(A) and Norton Resistance (B) to the solar panel (photodiode, C). The camera (D), operates on an independent circuit.

EL imaging, while an effective method of fault detection, is expensive due in part to the camera sensor technologies used, such as thermally stabilised charge coupled devices (CCD) and Indium-Gallium-Arsenide sensors (Petraglia and Nardone 2011, Parlevliet 2016).

This thesis presents a low cost apparatus for EL imaging of standard silicon solar panels and the image post processing techniques necessary to interpret the panel defects.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Parlevliet, David
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