• Reliability Methodology Study of a Concentrated Photovoltaic System

      Gross, David C.; Mohamed, Sufyan Jassim; Gross, David C.; Liu, Jian; Lin, Wei Hua; Jackson, Merrill (The University of Arizona., 2017)
      Reliability as an engineering discipline has grown in importance in systems development and manufacturing since its inception in the 1950s. This growth in importance is driven by several factors, including increasing complexity and sophistication of systems, public awareness of and insistence on product quality and availability, new laws and regulations concerning product liability, government contractual requirements to meet reliability and maintainability performance specifications, and profit considerations resulting from the high cost of failures. Such failures lead to increased costs for warranty programs, increased rate of repairs, and loss of sales because of decreased customer satisfaction. Reliability engineering is the discipline of ensuring that a product or system will work properly during a specified period of time. Therefore, the aim of reliability engineering is to delay the failures and then to maximize the life of the product. Studying the reliability of renewable energy systems in particular became more important in the last decade because of the need to find long life reliable substitutions to fossil fuels. One of these systems that recently has gained increasing interest because of research and development in the field of sustainable solar energy systems is Concentrated PhotoVoltaic (CPV) systems. These advancements could enable: 1) Higher conversion efficiencies, 2) Lower capital costs, and 3) Better reliability than competing products. The CPV system architecture creates the potential for higher conversion efficiencies as contrasted with other sustainable solar energy systems such as flat plate PhotoVoltaic (PV) system. Because CPV systems require significantly less silicon than other sustainable solar energy systems, their resulting lower capital costs was viewed as the technology’s major potential advantage over flat-plate PV, particularly for utility-scale applications. That argument has become less relevant with the dramatic reduction in silicon prices over the last several years. Increasing the reliability of the CPV systems could potentially significantly decrease the cost of electricity produced by these systems. If so, this could have a great influence on the economy and the cost of life especially in areas that have substantial amount of solar radiation like Arizona in the United States. Therefore, the present research explores various extent reliability methods, synthesizes a new method, and applies that method to a specific CPV design. The results show that applying this method to the design of the considered system should result in a significant improvement in CPV system reliability. Finally, the present research considers the opportunities for extending this work on different types of systems including software systems.