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TÜV Rheinland PTL


U.S. May Adopt IEC Photovoltaic Quality Standards

Improving the quality of renewable technology

Published: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 13:54

(TÜV Rheinland PTL LLC: Tempe, AZ) — In an important decision, Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (ABCs) recommended the adoption of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) quality standards for all modules purchased in the U.S. marketplace. The aim of this initiative is to improve the quality and reliability of the photovoltaic (PV) technology in the U.S. marketplace.

This effort takes fundamental steps to protect consumers and businesses alike from unknowingly buying poor quality PV modules, including those rejected by testing and certification officials in other countries. The European Union and Asia already require this testing on all PV technology being sold in their marketplace. 

This is a first step in developing a sustainable marketplace for renewable solar technologies. It is in the market’s long-term best interest to take basic steps to keep poor quality solar energy equipment from flooding the U.S. market.

Independent third-party testing and certification of basic quality helps provide an important consumer protection safeguard to build a sustainable technological base, according to Matthias Heinze, director of technology of TÜV Rheinland Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory (PTL) LLC, North America’s largest solar photovoltaic testing center. Heinze encourages PV manufacturers to embrace the new policy, designed to positively affect the quality and longevity of the U.S. solar market.

“TÜV Rheinland PTL vigorously supports and endorses Solar ABCs’ recommendation to establish minimum quality and reliability requirements in the United States,” says Heinze. “Third-party, independent testing and certification helps remove substandard PV modules from the market, effectively raising the overall quality levels of equipment being sold.”

This month Solar ABCs, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, released its Policy Recommendation No. 1 for standard PV modules and systems: Recommended Standards for PV Modules and Systems. The group advocates PV manufacturers to have their modules independently tested and certified for minimum quality and reliability according to the following international qualification standards:  IEC 61215—“Crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules—Design qualification and type approval,” IEC 61646—“Thin-film terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules—Design qualification and type approval,” and IEC 62108—“Concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules and assemblies—Design qualification and type approval.” These standards are considered minimum requirements in Europe.

Today, the U.S. marketplace does not require solar panels or photovoltaic modules to undergo independent testing for durability, quality, or reliability claims. Yet, other parts of the world, especially Europe and Asia, require scrutiny through an independent third-party testing provider.

Heinze says the new recommendation promotes widespread adoption of minimum standards for quality and reliability among solar technologies. “Without this policy, the quality of solar equipment could continue to decline, negatively impacting the U.S. PV market and increasing the cost of electricity,” explains Heinze.

Currently, a segment of PV manufacturers request third-party testing, according to Heinze. He predicts demand for independent testing and certification will shift to consumer-oriented businesses involved in power purchase agreements, banking, insurance, and system integration, as well as homeowners and business owners.

TÜVRheinland Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory is a proud part of the TUV Rheinland family of companies. The company delivers premier independent certification, testing, and assessment services for the solar energy industry sectors including photovoltaic, solar thermal, power management. For more information, visit www.tuvptl.com.


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TÜV Rheinland PTL

TÜV Rheinland Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory (PTL) LLC is a world-renowned facility for photovoltaic (PV) technology testing located in Tempe, Arizona, USA. TÜV Rheinland PTL is a partnership between the TÜVRheinland, a $1.5 billion USD provider of independent testing, assessment, and certification services for industry; and Arizona State University (ASU), one of the leading research and educational institutions in the USA. Locally, the ASU’s photovoltaic have been providing testing services to the photovoltaic (solar) power marketplace since 1992. TÜV Rheinland PTL, is an ISO 17025-accredited facility by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).