Despite significant growth in photovoltaics (PV) over the last few years, only approximately 1.07 billion kWhr of
electricity is estimated to have been generated from PV in the US during 2008, or 0.27% of total electrical generation.
PV market penetration is set for a paradigm shift, as fluctuating hydrocarbon prices and an acknowledgement of the
environmental impacts associated with their use, combined with breakthrough new PV technologies, such as thin-film
and BIPV, are driving the cost of energy generated with PV to parity or cost advantage versus more traditional forms of
In addition to reaching cost parity with grid supplied power, a key to the long-term success of PV as a viable energy
alternative is the reliability of systems in the field. New technologies may or may not have the same failure modes as
previous technologies. Reliability testing and product lifetime issues continue to be one of the key bottlenecks in the
rapid commercialization of PV technologies today. In this paper, we highlight the critical need for moving away from
relying on traditional qualification and safety tests as a measure of reliability and focus instead on designing for
reliability and its integration into the product development process. A drive towards quantitative predictive accelerated
testing is emphasized and an industrial collaboration model addressing reliability challenges is proposed.