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

VDE, Fraunhofer Will Certify PV Plants for "Technical Bankability"

Key technical components of a solar PV system go through the rigors of testing, evaluation, and certification — but what about when they're all assembled and running as a full PV plant? VDE and Fraunhofer ISE think they've found a new way to ensure the performance, reliability — and "technical bankability" — of solar PV plants with a new system-level certification spanning quality, safety, and performance of the plant as a whole and its components.

Plunging costs throughout the solar PV technology chain have helped to improve the cost profile of solar PV plants. But upstream upheaval also contributes to questions about supplier quality and viability, and adds uncertainty and risk for potential investors in a PV project. Standard certification of individual components by themselves is no longer sufficient to lower a plant's risk profile and make it more attractive to investors, according to the firms. What's needed is a higher level of certification that elevates the component-level view to system-wide performance and quality assurance. 

VDE is a well-known European standards body offering its stamp-of-approval brand for a wide range of components used in everything from household appliances to electric utility systems (including microinverters). Fraunhofer ISE, meanwhile, knows solar PV technology, and will offer yield reports, module characterization, system testing, and system monitoring. Together they offer a deep evaluation of the entire PV plant, as a third-party vs. an engineering firm that may be contracted, and compensated, by one of the project's stakeholders. "We provide an important service for reducing risk associated with financing," explained John Sedgwick, president of VDE America. Underwriters' Labs doesn't do this level of certification, while TUV does to some extent, he noted, but "the service we're contemplating is broader in range, and superior in the output it provides."

The new certification, VDE Quality Tested for PV Power Plants, applies 300 testing points spanning electrical and mechanical safety, system performance and energy yield verification, and proper system operation, with all elements checked against individual international standards and custom-developed system-level certifications.

Working with either the engineering firm or financing agency, VDE will do an independent review of the PV plant design, evaluating the PV array, verify all certification of the subcomponents, construction, and safety considerations. Once the plant is built, VDE sends teams out to the array to conduct a battery of tests to validate the quality of the array as it was constructed, gauging whether the modules as delivered do indeed provide yield as intended. Information about module performance is plugged into Fraunhofer's software model to compare how the system should perform going forward. Armed with that model, a plant can calculate performance starting from Day 1 to compare actual output vs. expectations on the DC or AC side, explained Sedgwick.

VDE has done a pilot project for its PV plant certification in Germany, Sedgwick, said, but it's set its sights on the fast-growing markets in North America — the U.S. (starting in California), Canada (Ontario), and Latin America (Mexico, Chile, Ecuador) — where larger-scale utility assets are being developed, many of which are still seeking funding, and some have been put on hold for that very reason. VDE is in talks now with potential customers and hopes to have a pilot customer identified in early 2Q13 on the 10-MW scale. The certification applies to "virtually any kind of solar PV technology," noted Sedgwick; "we are agnostic about it." (But solar thermal is not an area of focus, he added.)

VDE's testing and certification process. (Source: VDE)

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Sunrise in Pakistan as the Country Delves into Solar PV

Robert Harker Pakistan has joined the list of countries that are exploring solar power as a means to bridge critical energy generat...

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

Bloomberg News Editors China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for sh...

Why Smarter Grids Demand Smarter Communications Networks

Mark Madden

Historically, utility networks and communications networks have had little in common.

The Importance of “Switching Costs” to the US Residential Solar Industry

Paula Mints The DoE and numerous organizations and governments globally are focused on driving down the cost of solar convinced t...

PRESS RELEASES

Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned HydroWorld.com Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...

FEATURED BLOGS

Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...

FINANCIAL NEWS

Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

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

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Intersolar South America 2015

Exhibition and Conference: September 1-3, 2015 Intersolar South America ...

Intersolar Europe 2016

Exhibition: June 22-24, 2016; Conference: June 21-22, 2016 Intersolar Eu...

Intersolar India 2015

Exhibition and Conference: November 18-20, 2015 Intersolar India 2015 I...

COMPANY BLOGS

Less Is More

When you’re giving a presentation, one of the easiest things to do...

Captivology

One of the biggest challenges we face as efficiency sales professionals ...

How To Optimize Your Meeting Schedule

Do you spend more time in meetings than you do actually working? While m...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS