Solar module quality assurance
Solar module quality assurance involves testing and evaluating solar cells to ensure the quality requirements of them are met. Solar modules (or panels) are expected to have a long service life between 20 and 40 years. They must constantly and consistently deliver the power expected. In addition, modules are exposed to a wide array of weather conditions along with usage in differ climates. Therefore it is critical to determine if a module is capable of performing over many decades with exposure to differing conditions. Solar modules can be tested through a combination of physical tests, laboratory studies, and numerical analyses. Furthermore, solar modules need to be assessed throughout the different stages of their life cycle. Various companies such as Southern Research Energy & Environment, SGS Consumer Testing Services, TÜV Rheinland, Clean Energy Associates (CEA), CSA Solar International provide services in solar module quality assurance.
Stages of testing
The first stage can involves design verification where the expected output of the module is tested through computer simulation. Further, the modules ability to withstand natural environment conditions such as temperature, rain, hail, snow, corrosion, dust, lightning, horizon and near-shadow effects is tested. The layout for design and construction of the module and the quality of components and installation can also be tested at this stage.
Inspecting manufacturers of components is carried through visitation. The inspection can include assembly checks, material testing supervision and Non Destructive Testing (NDT). Certification is carried our according to ANSI/UL1703, IEC 17025, IEC 61215, IEC 61646, IEC 61701 and IEC 61730-1/-2.
Transportation and installation phase
Inspections include pre-dispatch inspection, dimensional control, visual control, and damage control. Documentation and certificates should also be reviewed.
Commissioning phase and in-service phase
Solar module specialists will ensure that the production has followed correct procedure and ensure there is a save start up. The in-service phase involves regular inspections of the solar modules to confirm they are performing.
- Dickie, P.M. (1999). Regional Workshop on Solar Power Generation Using Photovoltaic Technology. DIANE publishing. p. 120.
- Hough, T.P. (2006). Trends in solar energy research. Nova. p. 98.