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Solar / 06. July

TÜV Rheinland presents Quality Monitor Solar 2017

The 2017 TÜV Rheinland Quality Monitor Solar looks at three key factors affecting the safety, performance and quality of photovoltaic (PV) power plants supplying electricity to the grid. Areas examined in the report include the safety and reliability of energy storage systems, variance of performance and energy yield among different PV module types in diverse climate zones and the reduction of operational and investment risks using an appropriate PV module quality assurance rating system.

Energy storage systems
PV power plants produce fluctuating amounts of energy depending upon how much irradiance is available and how efficient it can be transformed into electricity. Climate, seasonal circumstances and variable loads determine whether energy production is lower, sufficient or higher than needed to meet grid needs. Energy storage systems can help balance supply and demand by converting and storing energy during over-production for use at a later time.

Testing conducted for this year’s Quality Monitor concluded that although standards and guidelines for the safe and reliable operation of PV energy storage systems have been established, many systems are still not compliant. This is partly due to the fact that safety and grid-connectivity regulations often differ according to national, regional or local standards. For a global market access such rules must be known and adhered to. In addition, energy storage systems are implemented in a wide variety of applications involving a broad scope of disciplines which may need to adhere to specific rules. TÜV Rheinland therefore provides its Market Access Services from its test center around the world. Precise performance evaluations based on traceable measurement devices and ISO 17025 accreditation further provide a meaningful benchmark for different battery storage systems.

Because the demand for battery storage systems for use in public buildings and private homes has risen significantly over the years, experts are working to ensure the safety of such systems. TÜV Rheinland published a safety guideline for lithium-ion storage in 2014 and the German Commission for Electro-technology (DKE) has now established the AR-2510-50 application rule as a national standard and extension to the “safety guide for stationary lithium battery storage devices”. This new standard has resulted in major steps being taken to increase the security of these energy storage systems. In the current issue of the Quality Monitor Solar, TÜV Rheinland experts also share their thoughts on the newly published German Energy Storage Association (BVES) guideline for measuring the efficiency of stationary energy storage. Industry must now quickly react to comply with these performance guidelines and application rules to ensure safe and reliable system operation, protect investment and meet customer demands.

Energy yield
PV module performance can vary greatly due to factors affecting individual technologies and climate conditions. Investors can gain up to 10 % in revenues by simply choosing the technology appropriate for each climate scenario.

TÜV Rheinland experts explain the significant differences between performance measurements taken at the factory and in the laboratory, as well as the reasons for disproportionate energy yields in the field. Production tolerances and technologically induced differences can lead to uncertainty and uncalculated yield reductions. To name one underestimated risk a PV investment could lose up to 30 % of its calculated profit within the first hours and days of operation due to light induced degradation (LID). Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that investors know the exact energy yield of PV modules in cases with lower returns. Verified methods for pre-conditioning PV modules are necessary in order to provide comparable results both in the new-state and post-operational phases. Significant discrepancies in earnings can also result from various technologies and products being implemented in different climate zones. Investors must be fully aware of these issues in order to successfully equip and operate a profitable PV power plant.

PV module rating
Rating module quality is an important part of ensuring the safe and reliable operation as well as the successful short- and long-term performance of a PV plant. Warranties are simply not enough. Ratings issued by the financial sector according to the fiscal stability of manufacturers do not rely on technical input. Based on accessible product data as well as manufacturer-provided quality assurance information, the technical rating system developed by TÜV Rheinland is already being used to preselect PV modules as part of an overall quality assurance process. Results from the 2017 Quality Monitor Solar showed that renowned manufacturers, highly valued according to financial sector methods, displayed weaknesses in quality management when rated by TÜV Rheinland.

In less than 10 years, solar-plus-storage systems will reach in excess of 27.4 GW worldwide and generate more than 49.1 billion US dollars. The TÜV Rheinland global network of experts and worldwide testing facilities provide the support needed to access all relevant markets and tap into the bright future of solar production and profitability.

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TÜV Rheinland presents Quality Monitor Solar 2017

2017 Quality Monitor Solar examines energy storage systems, PV module performance and module quality rating.

TÜV Rheinland 2017 Quality Monitor Solar


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