PVScan (Evaluation Research in Order to Assure and Evaluate the Quality of PV Modules in Solar Farms)

  • Funding institution: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
  • Support code: 0325588C
  • Amount of funding: € 397,007.00 (share received by ISC Konstanz)
  • Duration: 08/2013 to 07/2017
  • Consortium: ISC Konstanz; TÜV Rheinland; RWTH Aachen, ISW, Prof. Steland


The research project PVScan investigates and optimises the longevity of solar modules based on c-Si technology. Accelerated ageing and characterisation tests in the lab have shown the potential of solar modules to reliably produce electricity for 25 years and longer. However, current performance guarantees and certification procedures do not reflect lifetimes longer than 25 years. The PVScan project deals with module production, large PV installations, lab testing, certification procedures and insurance benefits in order to increase the longevity of solar modules and thus lower the costs of electricity from renewable sources.

The research project aims to

  • evaluate characterisation methods in the mass production of solar modules,
  • investigate solar modules in large PV installations,
  • develop mobile EL and IR measurement techniques for plant inspections,
  • elaborate suggestions for the German PV industry to maximise the product lifetime of solar modules,
  • develop statistical models and tools, and
  • suggest improvements to current PV insurance products.


Work on the PVScan project takes place on various levels. On the first level, the mass production of a German module manufacturer is analysed through audits. The manufacturer’s activities regarding quality assurance, such as characterisation and pass/fail checklists, are recorded and information regarding reclamations is gathered.

At the same time, the research partners investigate the module quality and performance at five large PV installations that are located across Germany and exposed to different environmental conditions. The researchers continuously monitor selected module strings, but they also randomly select several hundred solar modules in order to analyse them using mobile EL and IR techniques. The required mobile measuring equipment will be developed in the course of the project. Statistical models will serve as the basis for the measurements conducted on the selected modules.

Besides conducting field measurements, ISC Konstanz will manufacture test modules that exhibit typical module defects. Thanks to extended accelerated ageing, these test modules allow predictions about the long-term dynamics of the most common module defects.

The gathered information and results will provide material for a catalogue of measures for solar module manufacturers as well as suggestions for PV insurance companies.