As photovoltaic penetration of the power grid increases, accurate predictions of return on investment require accurate prediction of decreased power output over time. Degradation rates must be known in order to predict power delivery. This article reviews degradation rates of flat-plate terrestrial modules and systems reported in published literature from field testing throughout the last 40 years. Nearly 2000 degradation rates, measured on individual modules or entire systems, have been assembled from the literature, showing a median value of 0·5%/year. The review consists of three parts: a brief historical outline, an analytical summary of degradation rates, and a detailed bibliography partitioned by technology. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.