Monthly Webinar “Reliability of Insulation System in Solar Photovoltaic Modules: A Perspective”

IEEE DEIS Monthly Webinar on:

Reliability of Insulation System in Solar Photovoltaic Modules: A Perspective 

Presented by Dr. S. V. Kulkarni

Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India

Tuesday, 23 July 2024, at 1:30 PM CST/ 5:00 PM IST  

Abstract: With the growing pace of energy transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, the demand for reliable and consistent renewable energy sources is tremendous. Solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation forms an integral part of the global energy mix, and the reliable operation of solar PV modules is crucial to meet various energy targets. PV modules, with an anticipated life span of about 25 years, are subjected to seasonal and diurnal variations of environmental conditions during their field operation. As a result, multiple mechanisms are involved in their degradation. Insulation degradation is a critical aspect of module reliability that must be investigated more adequately. A drop in the insulation resistance of the module does not always translate into a decrease in its power output, which is a major reason why this issue is typically disregarded. However, the inverters connected to the module strings will protectively shut down if the string insulation resistance falls below permissible values, leading to extended power outages. The module packaging layers deteriorate as a result of the leakage current flowing between the grounded module frame and the PV cells, which are at an elevated potential. The progression of this leakage current and the subsequent insulation degradation is a function of the applied voltage, relative humidity, and module temperature. It has been identified that a compensation effect exists between the parameters of the Arrhenius equation that relates the material conductivity to temperature and relative humidity. A PV module operating in the field can have various types of defects, such as cracks, hotspots, delamination of packaging layers, corrosion, etc. The correlation between the presence of defects and the insulation condition of the module is complex and non-obvious. It could be necessary to modify the conventional tests used in evaluating the insulation health of modules to account for the non-obvious behavior of the insulation in defective modules. Hence, there is a need to comprehensively understand the insulation system and its degradation in PV systems to undertake necessary actions to ensure their reliability.

Bio: Dr. S. V. Kulkarni is Institute Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay. He was INAE (Indian National Academy of Engineering) Chair Professor in the Department (April 2018 – March 2020). He is a Fellow of IEEE and INAE. He is also an IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer. He was Editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery and IEEE Power Engineering Letters (2012-2019). He worked at Crompton Greaves Limited (1990-2001) and specialized in the design and development of transformers up to 400 kV class. He was a recipient of the Young Engineer Award conferred by INAE in 2000 for his contributions to ‘Electromagnetic Field Computations and High Voltage Insulation Design in Transformers’. He was also honoured with the Career Award for Young Teachers from All India Council for Technical Education in 2001. He received Best Paper Awards in international conferences on transformers held in 2002 and 2006.

He has authored a book Transformer Engineering: Design, Technology, and Diagnostics, Second Edition, published by CRC Press in September 2012 and he received IIT Bombay Research Dissemination Award 2016 for the book. He has adapted an undergraduate text book on electromagnetics for Asia, Principles of Electromagnetics, Oxford University Press, published in October 2015. He delivered NPTEL MOOC Course on ‘Electrical Equipment and Machines: Finite Element Analysis’ in 2020. He has also developed Virtual Electromagnetics Laboratory to effectively teach involved concepts using real-life practical examples and corresponding field visualizations, which has attracted more than 34,000 visitors till now.

His extensive interactions with transformer and power industries are reflected in his numerous consultancy projects and training programs for them. He has more than 210 publications to his credit in reputed journals and conferences, and has nine Indian and two US patents to his credit. His current areas of research include Analysis and Diagnostics of Transformers, Electromagnetic and Coupled Field Computations, Modelling of Magnetic Materials, Insulation Diagnostics, and Energy Transition. For more details see:

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