PhD Studentship Effect of PV module production parameters on life-time and durability


Photovoltaic modules are being deployed in large numbers across the world and are fast becoming a major contributor to the overall energy generation park in a number of countries. A major obstacle for this technology is the perceived cost of energy generated by these devices. This project will decrease costs by establishing production parameters required for long life-time.

The overall lifetime energy yield is not well understood to date and largely accelerated tests taken over from other industries are used to ‘qualify’ devices. One element of the project will be assessing the validity of these tests and potentially propose more useful tests. The key driver in this behaviour is the polymeric encapsulant, thus a good understanding of polymers and their characterisation would be beneficial.

The project is highly interdisciplinary; it will involve the following elements:

  • Producing PV modules with different materials, conditions and setups
  • Develop and carry out essential quality assurance of produced modules
  • Carry out accelerated ageing and weathering tests
  • Model long term behaviour of modules and dependence on operating environment
  • Develop accelerated tests applicable to variable operating conditions.

The work will be aligned to a large on-going research project which is an UK-India collaboration of 9 research institutions.

Research environment

The project would be based within the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), which has an extensive laboratory infrastructure including a PV-module manufacturing facility and a well-equipped PV-module reliability and accelerated test facility. The project would be supervised by Prof Gottschalg and Dr. Betts.

Funding and eligibility

The studentship is open to graduates with background in relevant engineering and science degrees provided that they are articulate, well qualified and highly motivated. The minimum entry qualification is a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent. Due to funding restrictions applicants must be classed as home students for fee purposes. It is for 3 years and covers fees at a UK/EU rate and a tax-exempt stipend of £13,726 for the 2013/2014 academic year with cost of living adjustments in years 2 and 3. Studentships will be expected to register for 1st January 2014.

Additional Information

Applications can be made on-line at the Apply button below. All applicants are encouraged to make contact with the supervisor to discuss their interest in the subject area and also send them the electronic application once completed, to speed up the overall process. Please quote SEESE/CREST/2013/01 on the application to be considered for this position.

For an informal discussion on the subject area, please contact the lead supervisor, Prof Ralph Gottschalg ( 

For enquiries about the application process, please contact Ms Julie Allen ( 

Applications will be accepted until 15th October 2013, or until the post is filled.

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