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LightWorks Lecture Series: IEEE EDS PV Performance and Reliability Summit

September 17, 2013

Join us for an opportunity to engage with three leading scientists on photovoltaic performance and reliability. ASU students, faculty and researchers are encouraged to participate in the entirety of the summit, but can participate in one or more session talks.

RSVP is highly recommended. Seating is limited and walk-ins will only be accepted if seats are available. Reserve your seat today.

Download summit flyer and agenda here.

Tuesday September 17 from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Memorial Union Turquoise Room 202

Speaker Bios and Abstracts

Sarah Kurtz

Reliability Group Manager

Principal Scientist, PhD

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)


Sarah Kurtz obtained her PhD in 1985 from Harvard University and has worked since then at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, CO.  She is best known for her contributions to developing multijunction, GaInP/GaAs solar cells and for supporting the Concentrator Photovoltaic (PV) industry.  Her work has been recognized with a jointly received Dan David Prize in 2007 and the Cherry Award in 2012.  Currently, she is managing the Reliability Group at NREL and working to facilitate the growth of the PV industry through improved performance of PV in the field.

 Talk: “Defining a Technical Basis for Confidence in PV Investments”


We would like to predict how long a module will last as a function of the climate and the system design and to be able to quantify our confidence in that prediction.  Today, we have an excellent set of qualification tests that detect most issues and the knowledge of how to achieve excellent reliability, but there is room for improvement.  This talk will propose additional tests with supporting evidence of how these predict better durability in the field.  A path to a comprehensive rating system and, ultimately, to service life predictions will be described.


David Wilt

Tech Advisor, Space Vehicles Directorate

Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM


Mr. Wilt has worked in the area of space photovoltaic research for nearly 30 years, both as the Advanced III-V Photovoltaic Group Lead at NASA and the Tech Advisor for the Advanced Space Power Generation group at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate.  Since joining AFRL, Mr. Wilt has been responsible for a portfolio covering a variety of photovoltaic device technologies and associated spacecraft solar array technologies.  His activities include both in-house research efforts as well as management of external research programs.  Mr. Wilt holds a BS in Physics, an MS in Industrial Engineering, has authored over 120 technical publications and holds 7 patents in a variety of photovoltaic device technologies. 

 Talk: “Reliability of Space Photovoltaics”


Nearly every spacecraft is powered by photovoltaics.  Given the huge expense in building and launching satellites, plus the virtual inability to repair spacecraft on-orbit, high reliability power subsystems are particularly critical.  This presentation will discuss the sources of challenges to space photovoltaic reliability, the implications of power system failure, industry practices employed to address and assure reliability and finally a discussion of recent spacecraft photovoltaic anomalies.


Mani G. TamizhMani, Ph.D.

Director, Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory

Arizona State University


Dr. Mani TamizhMani completed his PhD on solar cells in 1987. He is the president of TUV Rheinland PTL (TUV-PTL) since 2008 and the director of ASU Photovoltaic Reliability Laboratory (ASU-PRL) since 1999. TUV-PTL is a joint venture of TUV Rheinland and ASU. The mission of TUV-PTL is the certification of commercial products through standardized testing and of ASU-PRL is the lifetime prediction of PV modules through research.

 Talk: “Reliability and Durability of PV Modules: Lessons Learned in Hot-Dry Climates”


With low module price ($0.5/watt) and long lifetime (>20 years), the grid parity goal can be achieved. The current module price is as low as $0.70/watt, and is expected to reach $0.50/watt in the next few years. However, the lifetime of more than 94% of the installed modules which have been installed only in the last five years is yet to be demonstrated. The lessons learned on the reliability and durability issues of older power plants would be greatly useful for the lifetime prediction of newer power plants. This talk will present the lessons learned on the degradation rates, soiling losses and failure modes of older (12-18 years) PV power plants installed in hot-dry climatic conditions.