The reduction in solar panel production over time is called degradation. NREL research has shown that solar panels have an average degradation rate of about 0.5% per year, but the rate could be higher in warmer climates and for roof systems. Solar panels degrade mainly due to normal wear and tear over time due to exposure to UV rays and adverse weather conditions. The degradation rate is included in the performance guarantee of a panel.
All solar panels slowly degrade over time, which means they produce less electricity with the same amount of sunlight. How and why does this happen? Various external factors (such as weather) wear down panels and negatively impact their ability to produce electricity. Technically there is no expiration date on solar panels. However, over time, they naturally tend to be less efficient in energy production.
Solar panels slowly degrade when in use. The rate varies, in part, depending on the severity of the conditions under which the panels operate. Very high temperatures or severe frost will cause faster degradation, partly because thermal stresses induce microscopic cracks that alter electricity flows. Degradation is a critical factor in how long you can expect your solar panels to last.
NREL data shows that solar panels have a degradation rate of approximately 0.5% per year. Thus, after 20 years of use, a solar panel would be able to produce approximately 90% of the electricity it produced when it was new. Most solar manufacturers claim that their panels will last about 25 years, and the world didn't begin to implement solar energy extensively until the early 2000s. As a result, a fairly small number of solar panels are being dismantled today.
PV CYCLE, a non-profit organization dedicated to the recovery and recycling of solar panels, collects several thousand tons of solar electronic waste across the European Union every year, according to director Jan Clyncke. That figure includes solar panels that have reached the end of their useful life, but also those that were removed early because they were damaged during a storm, had some type of manufacturing defect, or were replaced by a newer, more efficient model. Just as a new car loses some of its value the moment you take it out of the parking lot, a solar panel can be affected by its efficiency within hours of its first use. Recycling Plant Offers PV Panel Producer First Solar a Way to Extract Missing Solar Panel Components for Later Reuse.
This study analyzed the degradation rates of nearly 2000 solar systems worldwide in a variety of climates and found that monocrystalline panels manufactured after the year 2000 degraded at a rate of only 0.4%, less than half of the 1% used in warranties. Degradation rates vary from brand to brand; higher quality panels have a lower degradation rate compared to lower quality panels. Rapidly occurring extreme temperature contrasts can also weaken solar panels because the materials that make them, such as solar cells and metals, contract and expand. Working with a reputable installer will go a long way to ensuring that your solar panels are of high quality and are covered by a warranty.
According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), manufacturers of premium modern solar panels, such as Panasonic and LG, offer panels with degradation rates as low as 0.30% per year. For example, when there is extreme cold, recurring hailstorms, or physical damage caused by falling debris, solar panels can develop microcracks that will eventually break the entire panel. After 25 years, your solar panels won't necessarily need to be replaced; however, their ability to absorb sunlight will be reduced. As with most things, the quality, materials, and type of solar panels you install will affect how they work and how long they last.
As long as you can avoid physical damage to your solar panels, they will continue to produce energy for many years, possibly well beyond the 25-30 year lifespan of typical solar panels. While solar panels lose some percentages immediately due to LID, the degradation rate slows down significantly for the rest of their useful life. Many solar energy companies offer apps or physical trackers that monitor your solar electricity generation monthly or even daily. However, an NREL study has shown that, in the case of solar panels replaced since 2000, only about 5 panels out of 10,000 fail annually.
Solar panels are generally quite easy to maintain because they are built to withstand weather events such as snow, hail, and wind. . .