Quality assurance is vital for global PV market growth

IRENA report emphasizes role of international standards

By Antoinette Price

By 2030, total installed PV capacity could range between 1 760 gigawatts (GW) and 2 500 GW. However, if market growth is to remain sustainable, the technology must be enhanced, and the risk for investors, policy makers and consumers reduced, according to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Solar PV ranch One of eight new utility-scale solar farms - Babcock Solar Energy project, Punta Gorda, Florida (Photo: Florida Power & Light)

Reducing risks and increasing stability

The report Boosting global PV markets: The role of quality infrastructure, was released at the Forum on Regional Cooperation: Developing Quality Infrastructure for Photovoltaic Energy Generation, held in Santiago, Chile, in September. The aim of the event was to engage policymakers and regulators in the Latin America and Caribbean region to develop and implement quality infrastructure for solar PV systems.

The report stresses that quality assurance (QA) is vital for reducing electricity costs, since it contributes to ensuring stability for the investors and other stakeholders. QA helps to reduce risk by providing the confidence that a product or service will meet expectations. This in turn, lowers capital costs, raises performance and increases module lifespans.

The report also references IEC and two of its Conformity Assessment Systems:

  • IECRE, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications, and the International Standards it has developed for testing and certifying PV systems and their components
  • IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, through its IECEE CB Scheme or international system for the mutual acceptance of test reports  and certificates relating to the safety of electrical and electronic components, equipment and products, including photovoltaics
  • IEC Standards for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) immunity and emissions testing

How IECRE certification builds investor confidence

During the event, George Kelly, Secretary of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 82 which develops International Standards for solar PV energy systems, presented the benefits of certification of PV systems using IECRE.

In a rapidly growing industry, there has been an increasing need to improve the understanding of the reliability of large solar PV systems and validate the product lifetime for investors. Given the complex nature of PV systems, they require quality infrastructure for the entire system, from design, installation and operation, to maintenance services and disposal.

“Our Standards cover performance and safety of products, systems and services and IECRE certification evaluates PV systems against these International Standards. This provides the quality and performance assurances that boost investor confidence that risk has been reduced”.

Kelly also noted that IEC Conformity Assessment Systems are recognized worldwide, across multiple industries and are based on open and transparent processes, in which industry and the market provide direct input.

Find out more about IECRE and its wind, solar PV and marine sectors: www.iecre.org

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Solar PV ranch One of eight new utility-scale solar farms - Babcock Solar Energy project, Punta Gorda, Florida (Photo: Florida Power & Light)
IRENA Report Report Boosting Solar PV markets: The role of quality infrastructure (Photo: IRENA)
IECRE logo IECRE, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications