Cells consuming the energy given by the sun have been tested in many installations. The practice has shown that the service life of the top rated solar generator exceeds 30 years. Photovoltaic plants operating in Europe and the USA for about 25 years showed a decrease in the power of the modules by about 10%.
Thus, we can talk about the real service life of photovoltaic single-crystal modules of 30 years or more. Polycrystalline modules typically work 20 years or more. Modules made of amorphous silicon (thin-film or flexible) have a service life from 7 (thin-film technologies of the first generation) to 20 (thin-film technologies of the second generation) years.
The average lifespan of a solar panel module usually reduced faster in the first 2 years of operation. Thin-film modules lose from 10 to 30% of power in the first 2 years of operation, so usually, they have new power reserves of about 15-20%. Currently, about 90% of the photovoltaic modules available today are made up of crystalline silicon modules. This fact enables much less degradation and a longer service life than other types of photovoltaic modules.
Solar panel lifetime
The standard power reduction of photovoltaic plants is 0.5% per year. As mentioned above, thin-film photovoltaic plants (a-Si, CdTe, and CIGS) reduced faster than mono and polycrystalline plants.
Most manufacturers guarantee the solar panels lifespan for 25 years, while the reduction in power will not exceed 20% by the end of this period.
Many manufacturers give a guarantee on their modules for a period of 10 to 25 years. At the same time, they guarantee that the capacity of the modules in 10 years will decrease by no more than 10%. Warranty for mechanical damage is usually given for a period of 1 to 5 years.
Manufacturers usually guarantee maximum wear and tear of a solar panel is less than 20% in 25 years. However, measurements carried out on modules actually working since the 1980s show that their output has decreased by no more than 10%. Very many of these modules still work with the parameters declared during production (i.e., there is no reduction). Therefore, we can safely say that the modules will work for at least 20 years, and with high probability, they will provide high rates even 30 years after the start of work.
Modern technologies for the production of solar plants are significantly improved, and photovoltaic cells that are sold now are even more reliable, stable and efficient.
So if the service life of photovoltaic plants was assumed for 20 years when calculating the recoupment of solar power plants, then they will produce free electricity.
We are confident that high-quality photovoltaic plants will work to generate electricity for 30 – 40 years after installation.