Quality for Photovoltaics
The PV boom between 2008 and 2010 brought about many questions over the quality of the technology. Since PV modules still account for over 50% of the cost of a plant, these have occupied the main focus of quality management; however at the same time they have also been the focus of growing concern. So, for example, in 2010 many leading banks in Germany drastically increased their risk provisions for PV systems and at the same time many have developed internal lists of acceptable modules – lists that are being updated continually.
By the end of 2010 a number of negative experiences had led to further tightening in this area. Often however this has been accompanied by differing and sometimes totally unrealistic expectations about the conditions under which "good" products are purchased. The players in the market have sometimes shown extreme reluctance about revealing their hand and independent testing is still perceived with critical eyes. This points to an immaturity in the industry, whereas in traditional industries clear procedures and external testing all along the value chain are the norm.
- Module manufacturers, manufacturers of precursor products
- System integrators, distributors
- Project developers and designers
- Installation engineering groups
- Banks, insurance companies, insurance brokers
- Legal companies
- Consultancy firms
- Testing laboratories
Lessons to be learned
For systems in the MWp area the risk provisions can quickly reach six-digit figures. Not only are module related issues involved but also those around design and output reliability – with associated losses in grid-feed revenues. A similar situation occurs when manufacturers cannot honour their warranty commitments. Here, the detail about different ways of obtaining protection will be discussed, together with the question of what is realistic. The perspective of the different market participants will be considered. New approaches to more binding forms of cooperation will be discussed.