BrightSpot Automation awarded $600k from U.S. Department of Energy SunShot to improve solar panel durability

Press Release

July 21, 2017 – Westford, MA


BrightSpot Automation has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative has selected the company to receive a $600,000 award for photovoltaics (PV) research on improving module materials and design.


Selected as a part of the SunShot Initiative’s Photovoltaics Research and Development 2 funding program (PVRD2) this project will conduct a fundamental study on the nature of cracked cells in crystalline silicon solar panels. The research team aims to improve photovoltaic module materials and designs in order to make them more resilient against crack initiation, propagation, and degradation over time due to the electrical isolation of cell segments. The team will also determine the effects of accelerated lifetime testing on modules in inducing power loss due to cell cracking, develop new panel designs, and explore manufacturing methods and manufacturing equipment that can make more durable panels. One unique area of focus in this research will be on ways to “heal” already installed panels that are suffering from power loss due to cracked solar cells and related hotspots.


The 2-year award, will be shared with research partners D2 Solar and the Florida Solar Energy Center.  


Dr. Andrew Gabor, CTO of BrightSpot: “We are grateful to the SunShot office for their support under the PVRD2 program, and we thank them for their confidence in our company.  Success under this project will lead to more durable solar panels, improved durability tests for the PV community, and new products lines for BrightSpot.”


Dr. Duncan Harwood, CEO of D2 Solar: “Commonly used panel certification test sequences may not adequately probe degradation due to cracked solar cells under long term field conditions. We look forward to developing better test sequences and module construction methods and materials under this program that can be applied to a range of module types and environments.”


Dr. Hubert Seigneur, Research Scientist at the Florida Solar Energy Center: “We are keenly aware from testing using the LoadSpot mechanical load tester from BrightSpot Automation, that modules are NOT a commodity, and that there are dramatic differences in the durability of panels from different suppliers. Recent trends in module design such as adding more wires and dual-glass construction are improving module durability with respect to cracked cells, but unfortunately, there is a large installed base of substandard panels that are highly prone to degradation from cell cracking and related hot spots. The solutions that BrightSpot is proposing to heal or strengthen these panels are quite ingenious, and we are eager to help fundamentally study and develop these concepts.”


About BrightSpot Automation, LLC

BrightSpot Automation builds innovative manufacturing and measurement tools with a focus on improving solar panel durability and performance. Tools include the LoadSpot mechanical load tester, the ContactSpot and ContactSpot-PRO contact resistivity cell testers, the TempCoSpot module temperature coefficient tester, and the EL-Spot low-cost and high-resolution electroluminescence camera systems. The company is based in Westford, MA.


About The Sunshot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. Learn more at

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