Solar Power World’s most-read stories of 2020

During a year unlike any other, Solar Power World continued working hard to bring solar installers, developers and manufacturers the features and news they needed to do their jobs better. Without conferences to attend for opportunities to learn about the latest products and trends in the industry, SPW editors knew it was more important than ever to keep readers up-to-date through timely articles.

We’re proud to count down the 10 most-read stories on after a most unusual year. Don’t forget to subscribe to our free weekly enewsletter to stay informed on the latest U.S. solar industry news and investigative features.

10. Solar’s silent killer: Backsheets are shortening some project lifespans

New research into solar panel failures pointed to a surprising culprit: Cheaply made backsheets. More thorough testing options and industry awareness have since helped developers choose more reliable models, but there’s no easy solution for faulty backsheets in the field.

9. Perovskite solar cells: Hero, villain or just plain fantasy?

Perovskite solar cells are an often-misunderstood new technology, but they’re capable of providing higher efficiency at an exponentially lower cost. Its uniquely simple manufacturing process could also make it quickly scalable to help meet global zero emissions targets.

8. Forget 400 watts. JinkoSolar launches 580-W solar panel for utility-scale market

JinkoSolar’s flagship Tiger Pro module series features a maximum power output of up to 580 W — 40% higher than current mainstream 72-cell modules. The company uses half-cut cells, nine busbars and tiling ribbon technology to improve performance.

7. Sunflare’s latest thin-film solar module fits between seams of metal roof

Thin-film solar panel manufacturer Sunflare released a unique module that fits between seams on metal roofs. The 60-W CIGS panels are mounted onto the roof using peel-and-stick butyl adhesive backing.

6. Petersen-Dean files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Residential solar and roofing installer Petersen Dean filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Nevada in June. The company said the voluntary restructuring was triggered by the pandemic.

5. Tips for mounting solar inverters on commercial rooftops

Although the ideal place to mount inverters is in a locked, climate-controlled room, that’s often not possible. Many installers instead opt to mount commercial inverters on the same level as the modules, but rooftop inverter mounting requires special considerations.

4. Just how concerned should the solar industry be about battery fires?

Fires caused by energy storage systems may be rare now, but they may become a bigger concern as solar + storage adoption grows. Safely storing batteries and taking local climate into account can help minimize risk.

3. SMA releases its first 1,500-V solar inverter with direct 480-V output

SMA America unveiled the Sunny Highpower PEAK3 125-kW for ground-mount projects with 480-VAC interconnection. The new inverter is designed to work best for community solar, agricultural aggregate metering and other large projects.

2. Inverter competition causes consolidation and exits

The competitive inverter manufacturing space proved even more challenging than usual in 2019, as we reported in this early 2020 trends piece. Price pressure and competition caused a number of acquisitions and exits of solar power electronics companies.

1. Pro tip: Never use soap to clean dirty solar panels

While soap was recommended for sanitizing hands and even groceries in 2020, it shouldn’t be used to clean solar panels. Instead, experts advise project owners to scrub modules with deionized water or specialized cleaning concentrates.