The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

A Solar Panel Quality Manifesto

Falling prices for PV technology – new average price for inventory, $0.65/Wp, off brand b- and c-grade modules, falling margins, failing PV companies, fraud, poorly installed systems and even counterfeit module product that carries a name brand and is really an off brand – good grief, what's an industry to do? Any day now we may encounter a guy on the corner with a pile of counterfeit modules, an armful of fake Rolexes and a pile of faux-Gucci purses all to be had at $9.99.

The PV industry needs to get back to its quality roots. This means it needs to stop making excuses for buying b- and c-grade modules.  These modules once were, and still should be rejected.  In past years, they would have been rejected.  Correction, they might have been used for a project in the developing world – and this is not okay either. 

Lower grade and thus lower quality PV modules are a recent phenomenon, just as bankability (a phrase developed by the people who brought us the former financial crisis and the current Libor crisis) is relatively recent.  Previously, industry participants knew that delivering high quality, clean, reliable electricity were the industry goals and that these goals were not mutually exclusive from the goal of profitability.  There are those who would laud the availability of low price b- and c-grade technology as progress – they are wrong. There are those who just want to get PV into the ground or up on the roof as fast as possible even at the risk of failure – after all, the modules are a commodity and can be easily replaced…right?  Wrong.

It is time we decided what business we are really in and what we want this business to be – are we part of the solution towards cleaner air for all and quality jobs, or are we simply developing a commodity that can be bought and sold with little or no moral imperative? Most of us got into solar to effect a change and to have careers that publically reflected our values.  Is it “touchy-feely” to want to change the world?  Maybe so, but perhaps we can marry the values of clean, reliable energy with profits. 

As manufacturer failures pile up like a massive traffic accident it should be impossible to deny that prices are too low, yet, sadly, many continue to claim that the low prices are progress.  In the U.S. the decision to apply tariffs (retroactively) to PV technology from China has divided the industry.  The common goal of deploying solar has been largely put aside in favor of industry infighting. Rhetorical question … can a small, emerging industry afford to expend its energy in this manner?  Meanwhile, acceptance of lower quality products at low prices has become commonplace and this will likely cost us dearly. 

So, as in the movie Network, rise up out of your seats, step away from your computers and refuse to accept any less than the highest quality PV – insist on support for R&D so that technology advancement (lower cost, higher efficiency) can continue.  Work together to standardize permitting costs because that alone would lower installation costs.  In sum, go back to solar’s roots, where changing the world was indeed the point of it all. 

                 Figure 1: Average Prices to the first point of sale and for Inventory

Lead image: Grade A via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

US, China Solar PV Players Team Up, Invest $100MM in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

Andrew Burger Private equity infrastructure specialist Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Hong Kong-based independent power producer ...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

NRG Energy to Form Renewable Unit, Sell Wind Assets to Yieldco

Mark Chediak and Matthew Monks, Bloomberg NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, said it will form a renewa...


Fronius Shifting the Limits in Solar-Plus: It’s not just about products, it’s about solutions.

Fronius USA, who just recently launched the all-new Fronius SnapINverter line this past...

IREC Announces Changes in Regulatory Team

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), a not-for-profit organization which for...

IREC Awarded New Funding to Advance Digital Credentials

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) proudly announces funding for an innovat...

$100 Discount on 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience Workhop

Upcoming 5-day Workshops: Nov. 7 - 11 Feb. 6 - 10


NY Gov. Cuomo Pledges to Create Carbon Market use Solar, Wind to reduce Climate Change

This week former Vice President Al Gore joined with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to sign the Under 2 MOU, a directi...
clean energy

In Clean Energy, The Truth Matters

A group of about 20 protesters gathered outside the Sheraton in Burlington, Vt., early on Oct. 8 as attendees arrived...

Industry Focus: Cleantech: 1366 Technologies joins Solarcity in New York

1366 is set to build a factory just up the road (OK, it is a long road – NYS Thruway) from Solarcity.  The...



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Canadian Solar Inverters Webinar

Canadian Solar is proud to be hosting two free webinars in October! The ...

JuiceBox Energy Certified Installer Class

JuiceBox Energy is rapidly building out its national certified installer...


How To Speak, How To Listen

As sales professionals, effective communication is paramount to our succ...

Get In The Habit

We all develop habits throughout our lives. Sometimes they’re bene...

Becoming An Efficiency Sales Professional

In order to become a sales professional, you must first realize that: E...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now