Marlboro, Massachusetts [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] In the same way that 40 gigabyte IPod of yours has only 37 GB of effective memory, solar panels don’t always stack up to their nameplate ratings, especially under real-world conditions. With this in mind, Massachusetts-based solar photovoltaic (PV) module company Evergreen Solar announced that all of the company’s modules are now being tested to a more stringent international standard to ensure customers are getting as much as they expect from their panels.Under the new standard, Evergreen modules are being tested to produce a minimum of 98% or more of their rated power output. Currently, there is no recognized third-party standard for minimum power output. According to Evergreen, minimum power ratings used by PV manufacturers range as low as 90%. “We believe Evergreen’s -2% tolerance standard ranks among the industry’s best worldwide,” said Terry Bailey, Evergreen Solar senior vice president, marketing and sales. The new standard is expected to be a key benefit to consumers, especially in countries such as Germany, where financial incentives are based on a PV system’s actual output rather than its rated output. Evergreen’s patented and String Ribbon manufacturing process produces nearly one-and-a-half times as much power per pound of refined silicon as conventional methods, according to the company. “We believe we have always had high standards within the industry. By instituting this even more stringent internal test for power output performance, we’re holding ourselves and our products to one of the highest standards in the industry.” In a related development, Bailey noted that construction of the new 30-MW manufacturing plant in Germany, developed in partnership with Q-Cells AG, continues to make steady progress toward the goal of beginning production in 2006. Q-Cells AG is the world’s largest independent manufacturer of crystalline silicon solar cells. The new $75 million facility is expected to triple Evergreen’s global manufacturing capacity.