A Kyocera solar panel based system installed in 1992 has lost very little of its efficiency since the day it was installed.
The system, the first grid connect installation in France, is located in Lhuis; a village east of Lyon.
Recent laboratory testing of the pioneering system by the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) showed only an 8.3% degradation in performance from its original power output level.
The 945-watt installation consists of 15 solar panels, each with an output of 63 watts.
“In the constantly innovating field of solar energy, 20 years is a long time, which makes the long-term performance and efficiency of these modules manufactured with the technology available at that time particularly remarkable,” reads part of a statement from Kyocera.
Kyocera systems have performed extremely well over the years. An even older façade-mounted 2.1kW array in Sweden, which has operational since 1984, hasn’t experienced any significant change in performance in the modules according to the company. Another system installed in the same year at Kyocera’s Sakura Solar Energy Center near Tokyo is also still running well.
The results of these systems will provide some reassurance for owners of other solar panel arrays that their investment will be repaid many times over; assuming the panels on their rooftops are of similar quality.
However, while most solar panel manufacturers now offer a 25 year performance warranty, how many of those companies will be still around in 25 years, let alone the next 5, remains to be seen.
According to Australian solar solutions provider Energy Matters, a lengthy manufacturer’s warranty is no guarantee of quality – and the company also needs to be around to honour it. This is why Energy Matters says it sticks with sourcing panels from tier 1 and tier 2 manufacturers; as these trusted brands not only produce a quality product, but have also proven to be solid businesses in a cutthroat sector where change occurs at a breakneck pace.