A 10 GW Time Bomb

From pv magazine

It is estimated that 10 GW of solar modules in Germany suffer from prematurely aging backsheets, with sites of all sizes affected.

More woes for Germany’s electrical infrastructure.


Empty warranties


Go to this link for the full article.

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Pat Frank
September 11, 2023 10:09 pm

If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again.

The short form of Germany’s Energie Wende.

Bryan A
Reply to  Pat Frank
September 12, 2023 10:30 pm

Here’s what it looks like to convert an airport to a subsidy farm
From Google Maps

Bryan A
September 11, 2023 10:14 pm

Sounds like inexpensive cheap Chinese crap panels

Reply to  Bryan A
September 11, 2023 10:38 pm

2010-2013 – maybe those were crap European panels made before they were priced out of the market.

$2Billion to replace 10GW, doesn’t sound likely. Must be for a brand new solar farm, not the cost to go through individual panels, inspecting them and fixing/replacing the bad ones.

Aslso: Cost for renewables should always include the cost of a proper amount of storage (probably at least 3 weeks worth based on the UK data presented in WUWT in the past) or else it’s not truely LCOE but just propaganda and lies.

Steve Case
Reply to  PCman999
September 11, 2023 11:29 pm

LCOE = Levelized Cost of Energy

Dean S
Reply to  Steve Case
September 12, 2023 2:09 am

Laughably Costly Organic Energy

Reply to  PCman999
September 11, 2023 11:47 pm

OK, so you’ve got 3 weeks worth of battery backup. Then you get 4 weeks of still cold weather. Now, just to avoid total collapse in that fourth week, you’ve had to pay the full capital and maintenance costs of three separate systems – original renewables, batteries, and fuel-based backup. It’s still going to be way more expensive than a fuel-based system. Almost any fuel-based system. Now, it may look just way more expensive, but in fact it’s way way more expensive, because you’ve got massive complexity on top of paying for and maintaining three full capacity systems.

If you put in three part-capacity systems – coal, gas, nuclear – your capital cost is comparable to one full capacity system, not three times as much, and you’ve got a robust 24/7 system with a lot less complexity. You can also ensure that each provides backup to the others and that competition between the three helps to keep prices down. If you ensure you have a bit of spare capacity and keep an eye on fuel supply, you can keep going “for ever” (ie, until nuclear fusion comes in – oh yes and that amazing 22ndC technology which no-one had even dreamed of in 2030).

Rich Davis
Reply to  Mike Jonas
September 12, 2023 2:43 am

Solar panels in Germany, how stupid can you be actually? They should have charged other virtue signalers to dispose of their 25-year old failed panels by shipping them to Germany. Then put them up where they would produce about the same amount of power as brand new expensive ones. Or just put up billboards that look like solar panels? How expensive does virtue signaling have to be?

Bryan A
Reply to  Mike Jonas
September 12, 2023 6:12 am

That or 120% Nuclear Capacity to allow for Maintenance and Refueling … And potential high load days

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
September 12, 2023 6:14 am

This eliminates the need for battery backup and would better allow for BEV…not that many people really want Guided Golf Carts beyond government mandate and signaling virtues

Jim Gorman
Reply to  PCman999
September 12, 2023 4:21 am

Read the ending about not mixing new and old panels, i.e., replace a whole string if only one panel fails. Plus, if the backing foil is starting to fail, it is just a short time before multiple failures occur.

Bryan A
Reply to  PCman999
September 12, 2023 6:09 am

They’re probably presuming…1 bad all bad…eventually

Reply to  Bryan A
September 12, 2023 8:24 am

But are they thinkingn that far in the future.

Bryan A
Reply to  barryjo
September 12, 2023 12:26 pm

I know, who ever plans 3 weeks ahead???

Chris Hanley
September 11, 2023 11:24 pm

Since solar PV in Germany is a net energy sink this is excellent news for global energy efficiency and resources conservation:
“The conclusions of our study, following the response of Raugei et al. [a paper that challenged the findings of Ferroni & Hopkirk 2016] remain unchanged. These are valid for regions of moderate insolation.
Any attempt to adopt an Energy Transition strategy by substitution of intermittent for base load power generation in countries like Switzerland or further North will result in an unavoidable Net Energy Loss. This implies a severe depletion of resources” (Ferroni, Guekos & Hopkirk 2017).

Steve Case
September 11, 2023 11:30 pm

Germany lies mostly between latitudes 47° and 55° N and they’ve put up solar panels? November December and January those things are mostly useless.

Reply to  Steve Case
September 12, 2023 12:29 am

This is much the same as the argument that we all used to be vegetarian. Vegetables and fruit are/were only available for 3 months of the year, leaving 9 months to consider how delicious a cow looks.

Reply to  sskinner
September 12, 2023 4:32 am

But the pig with a little lipstick was not completely ugly.

Bob Rogers
Reply to  sskinner
September 12, 2023 6:13 am

A friend of mine who grew up in Panama said they had tomatoes in their back yard 365 days a year. I think canine teeth are a better argument against paleo-vegetarianism.

DD More
Reply to  Steve Case
September 12, 2023 12:44 pm

IIRC a January few years ago, Germany had a total of 6 hours to power producing sun for the month.

Reply to  Steve Case
September 12, 2023 2:50 pm

They are mostly useless the other 10 months of the year. They are completely useless in December and January.

Nick Stokes
September 11, 2023 11:37 pm

There is paper on this problem here. It is an issue with the older simple polyamide. Various improvements are now used. Fluoropolymers do not have this problem.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 11, 2023 11:53 pm

Fluoropolymers, commonly used to manufacture common household items, such as baby teething chews, doggy bones and sandwich boxes…
Right, Nick? Will settle nicely in the burn pit where Dupont puts all its other extraneous product results, eh?
But mostly, I must congratulate you and your fellow geniuses for inventing time travel. Or will you now be bashful and deny you brilliant …… managed to fit a solar panel’s 25-year lifespan into less than ten?
What next, Nick? An anti-inflation programme that raises all prices? A peace initiative that clears a foreign country of the wrong religion? A universal vaccine that gives you AIDS?
Don’t know how we would get along without you wonderful …..

Peta of Newark
Reply to  cilo
September 12, 2023 12:33 am

and just wait till the eco-warriors discover that the Fluoropolymers are what they call ‘Forever Chemicals
On top of which they are (presently) impossible to recycle – even the clean/new/pristine trimmings at the factory making the panels
Then the Fluoropolymers are expensive compared the Polyamides
Then the mupputs add in Titanium Dioxide to ‘reflect heat’ and so try keep the panels cool.
….but Tioxide is a photo-catalyst (creates free radicals) and they will cheerfully destroy any organic material

Nick didn’t read his own link

Why didn’t they do like car windscreens do – make a glass/plastic/glass laminate?
i.e. Protect the rear (plastic film layer) with another sheet of glass
The technology there is well proven

It did also dawn – what are wind turbine blades made of?
As I came to understand, cracking/flaking/chalking of the surface of the blades is what causes them to effectively fail – at typically 15 years
= that the blades lose their aerodynamic efficiency because of cracks & flakes (the drag co-efficient skyrockets)
The blades then start sucking energy out of the machine. Considering that the tips of the blades are moving at 200mph (tip speed ratio of about 10) with a relentless diet of UV, dust, sand, smoke & pollution, rain, hail, insects, bats and birds, it’s amazing they last as long as that.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 12, 2023 1:36 am

Its pure fantasy and fraud piled on fallacy and foolishness.
As long as it makes money and puts the plebs in their place, it’s fine, though.
Nick simply hates common people.

Reply to  Leo Smith
September 12, 2023 7:05 am

Yes Leo, Nick really, really, hates poor people.

But he LOVES crony capitalists and their ivory tower acolytes, such as Nick himself.

Reply to  Drake
September 12, 2023 2:53 pm

Poor people don’t fund his paycheck.

Richard Page
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 12, 2023 2:54 am

Gosh anyone might think that renewables had a built-in 10-15 year redundancy!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 12, 2023 2:55 am

 cracking/flaking/chalking of the surface of the blades “

And I though ocean plastic were a problem.

Imagine the amount of pure crud being flaked off these wind turbine blades.

But who cares, so long as we are “saving the planet”

Reply to  bnice2000
September 12, 2023 7:10 am

And just think of all the government research grant agencies providing grants for the study of the same flaking, or bird/bat/bug killing, or the actual LCOE for unreliables including backup/battery costs, or comparisons of CO2 reduction to simply dealing with “climate change” by moving a couple of miles north, and ready to move back SOON. or raising the sea wall 6 inches and??. Nope, none of those being funded.

But Nick is getting his cut.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 12:19 am

So like Nick to try to discount another massive FAILURE. !

Rich Davis
Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 2:46 am

Right Nick, the ones with the Forever Chemicals ™ work at night!

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 2:53 am

Great to see Nick show just how ANTI-environment he is.

Ever asked what happens if Fluoropolymers somehow catch fire and burn Nick

MASSIVE and VERY TOXIC POLLUTION.. that is what happens.

But you DON’T CARE, do you.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 7:03 am

Not quite Nick as you can see the obvious temptation to cut cost with the critical backsheet particularly with domestic rooftop panels-
Solar Panel Backsheets: [All To Know About] | Solartechadvisor
Commercial solar farms would be more astute about that once they learned the hard way with early technology.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  observa
September 12, 2023 7:35 am

Lots of good information there. But I’m not sure what your point is. Yes, they have learnt. People do. From your link
Fluoropolymer Backsheets dominate the backsheet market because of their excellent chemical resistance to many harsh factors that can cause degradation of the solar cells.”

michael hart
Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 8:04 am

If you’re not already familiar with the word, Nick, though I suspect you are, look up the word “Baksheesh”.

For some reason that was the first word that came into my head when I read that the solar-generation industry had a problem with backsheets.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 7:36 am

You left out the tag line “move along, nothing to see here”

Rick C
Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 9:18 am

One of the greatest problems in the development of new building products and materials is establishing long term durability when exposed outdoors. There are many “accelerated weathering” test protocols that evaluated things like UV exposure, freeze/thaw, wetting/drying, resistance to insects, mold and animal pests, but it is very difficult to validate these in terms of how well they represent real world conditions. Only actual long term exposure studies which are very expensive and, of course, take decades to get results are reliable. Often such studies find failure modes not anticipated by accelerated test methods.

Both wind turbines and solar panels have been rushed from the drawing board into wide scale installation with little or no reliable longevity evaluation. Siemens-Gamesa has recently revealed $Billions in warrantee costs due to equipment failures in just a few years. Wind turbine blades are failing in less than 1/2 their design life due to scour surface damage. Solar panels are failing due to wind, hail and water leakage issues. No one who understands how harsh long term exposure to mother nature’s destructive forces should be surprised.

Reply to  Rick C
September 12, 2023 1:12 pm

“have been rushed from the drawing board into wide scale installation with little or no reliable longevity evaluation.”

Sort of like certain vax jabs !

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 9:59 am

“In December 2022, 3M declared that it had had enough. Pointing to increasingly stringent regulations as well as customer demand for alternatives, the maker of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and other fluorinated polymers said it would walk away from the entire business—which generates annual sales of about $1.3 billion—by 2025.
“The challenges of managing businesses and operations with products based on PFAS have increasingly weighed on our business results in recent years,” 3M said at the time. Last year, for example, the company signed an agreement with the Flemish government to start a $600 million remediation program at its site in Belgium.”

Fluorocarbons have their own problems, the primary one is that they are facing bans and regulations throughout the world and manufacturers are exiting the business.

Try again, Nick.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
September 12, 2023 2:52 pm

Miss the point much?

September 12, 2023 12:26 am

Polymide? That’s a plastic isn’t it? I thought the eco zealots wanted to stop plastic.

Reply to  sskinner
September 12, 2023 12:37 am

Shh, you’re interrupting their pleasant “green” fantasy where they are one with Mother Gaia. Next you’ll be telling them the panels are made with coal power, acid mining, and slave labor, you scold.

Reply to  sskinner
September 12, 2023 4:39 am

Leftist seemingly forget or don’t know that hydrocarbons give us not only energy but matter also. Plastics being one useful form of matter that are made from hydrocarbons, and electronics and electrical equipment are entirely dependent on them.

September 12, 2023 1:07 am

Another time bomb and fortunately it was a lone EV battery spontaneously combusting rather than a carpark full of them-
Electric vehicle battery causes fire at Sydney Airport, destroys five cars (msn.com)

Reply to  observa
September 12, 2023 7:22 am

Make of Luxury EV, unknown, battery removed at the airport, really, why unknown, make, model and value of other vehicles destroyed, unknown, cars parked under the control tower?? really?

So is the “reporter” an econazy and therefore hiding the full story because it is so bad for EVs. Or can I assume he/she is just like ALL graduates of “journalism” schools, just truly ignorant of about everything except of when their “deadline” is.

Now I would call this a case of sabotage attempting to destroy the control tower with a Lion high explosive. It appears the detonator just malfunctioned. (Detonator=Lithium battery just left laying about and expected to self detonate)

Reply to  Drake
September 12, 2023 12:38 pm


Ben Vorlich
September 12, 2023 1:56 am

Story Tip – possibly

The REF(Renewable Energy Foundation) in the UK has a lot of interesting data. Using the chart available on this page gives an interesting picture. Definitely worth a couple of thousand words.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 12, 2023 3:44 am

Aww, don’t be nasty, you can clearly see they forgot to install new, working, still-under-gurantee stuff for a while, and the old stuff start squeaking after three years, as your second graph so explicitly records. Can’t expect stuff to work forever, how’s the economy to grow if we don’t destroy-and-replace regularly?
Or climate change…
Or maybe the unicorns powering the treadmills ran out of pixie farts?

Bryan A
Reply to  cilo
September 12, 2023 10:22 pm

Ayup … green power … unicorn flatus and proxy dust

Rich Davis
September 12, 2023 2:40 am

One good thing about Germany being the Energiewende crash test dummies is that when they finish dismantling their industry and they finally lose faith in their Green religion, the world will have to confront the reality that if German engineers can’t make it work, nobody can. But then Germany will move on to their next delusion and who can be assured that the next delusion will just involve self-harm?

son of mulder
September 12, 2023 3:28 am

Oh dear, are the backsheets made from oil by any chance?

Reply to  son of mulder
September 12, 2023 9:34 pm

It’s a plot by big oil to discredit solar power. /sarc

Gregg Eshelman
September 12, 2023 3:37 am

If that’s not some AI generated header image, that is a horrific PV site. Who just roughly clears a site with a bulldozer without doing any leveling then plants PV panels all over it?

In America we meticulously level the whole site first. Then we screw up by doing that in western Nebraska, the 2nd most hailed on area of the USA after Denver, Colorado and surrounding area.

Build a solar farm in western Nebraska and the weather goes “Challenge accepted!”

Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
September 12, 2023 5:03 am

Yep, panels seem to be difference sizes and layout too.

If it is real, it is a darn shoddy job !.

Bryan A
Reply to  bnice2000
September 12, 2023 10:23 pm

Jerry rigged the setup from scrounged PV waste

September 12, 2023 4:01 am

But it was such a good deal with forced Chinese labor and coal power.

September 12, 2023 6:07 am

In other good reality news, we have this block on dangerous CO2 pipelines for tax credit rent seekers.

story tip


Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 12, 2023 7:48 am

Let me see, a CO2 pipeline is needed to get rid of CO2 from a wholly unnecessary “industry” that produces ethanol from FOOD to add to gasoline to save the planet?

Everything about the anti fossil fuel crony capitalism just cost so damn much and does nothing but enrich the cronies and politicians.

Reply to  Drake
September 12, 2023 12:48 pm

Had it not been for Dems shifting away from the Iowa Caucuses their primary candidates would have been in the awkward position of digging CO2 pipeline ditches to look good for Iowa voters and the Iowa press. At least they won’t have to get their hands dirty now, while doing other dirty tricks in campaigns and sucking up to the lobbyists.

September 12, 2023 6:44 am

So all the estimates of 10y repay the investment, then it’s free energy end at the ten year mark and you need to pay again.

That is what they mean by RENEWABLE energy sources. !!!

September 12, 2023 8:22 am

Yet another unintended consequence of jumping into renewable energy without real life testing.

September 12, 2023 11:49 am

Each time I do the numbers I get the same result. A solar panel barely produces enough electricity in its lifetime to build a replacement solar panel. There is no surplus to run an industrialized nation or for that matter to increase the number of solar panels.

September 12, 2023 12:17 pm

American solar companies were unable to sell much in the EU in recent years because of the Chinese panel pricing. Good luck with those defective products. They deserve them.

September 12, 2023 12:18 pm

Let’s see the warranties for those cheap Chinese products.

September 12, 2023 12:20 pm

Who pays for uninstall costs and disposal and what former colony gets the waste this time?

September 12, 2023 12:42 pm

Between premature failures in Chinese solar panels and European wind turbines, I’d say the EU is catching up with Obama Era failures (fraud) at Solyndra, Crecent Dunes, and Ivanpah.

Gunga Din
September 12, 2023 2:16 pm

Why does the life span of all green energy production remind me of the “boiler plate” promises vs the actual energy produced?

September 12, 2023 2:45 pm

The solar power advocates are going to claim that it is not unusual for new technologies to be hit with unexpected problems.

While this is true, it is also the reason why most “new” technologies are rolled out slowly, so that these kinds of bugs can be found before there are millions of units in the field.

September 12, 2023 2:53 pm

Get rid of those solar farms and fire up your fossil fuel and nuclear plants. They won’t let you down like that.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
September 12, 2023 3:22 pm

The land doesn’t appear to have much agricultural potential, landfilling in place may be an option. Consideration should be given to deep burial because replacing the array every 30 years for the next 90 years will constitute a consideration accumulation. Surely in another 90 years Germany will be ready to go back to nuclear.

September 12, 2023 3:26 pm

The article suffers from the German > English translation, there are some odd usages that don’t quite make sense.

The reason an entire string should be replaced if one module fails is because the new module won’t have the same current-voltage characteristics as the old ones, which can cause modules to be forced into reverse bias (this is called I-V curve mismatch).

It has long been known some “AAA” backsheet films – made of triple-layer polyamide and widely deployed from 2010 to 2013 – can become brittle and tear.

I am not familiar with these polyamide backsheets (have no idea what AAA means), I have to wonder from this if there are aluminum foil layers to inhibit moisture ingress to the inside. My guess is that the electrical insulation is inferior, after moisture has gotten in, to the conventional Tedlar backsheets that have been used for decades. One of the hardest problems in module construction is bonding all the dissimilar materials together, these issues are what lead to delamination.

If the polyamide is degrading and cracking, and also soaking up water vapor, the electrical insulation of the module is gone, which the article talks about a lot.

Having a foil layer will only make the insulation problem worse.

That these were no longer used after 2013 indicates that the manufacturers figured out there was a problem with the design and abandoned it for something else. People who payed money for them are just now getting bit.

September 12, 2023 5:06 pm

The group-thinking lockstep zombies will never admit their “clean” energy schemes are anything but clean. This is the modern age version of the Edsel. These climate profiteers should lose their shirts, but the leftist governments will step in and absorb their losses.

September 12, 2023 7:34 pm

Material costs (shouldn be) negligible relative to German labor costs.

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