MNRE Issues Guidelines for Conducting Lab Tests on Solar PV Modules

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a series of guidelines for conducting tests on solar photovoltaic (SPV) modules (crystalline and thin film, including bifacial type). The tests are to be conducted by test labs for compulsory registration with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the implementation of the Solar Photovoltaics Systems, Devices and Component Goods Order 2017.

The guidelines are also issued to facilitate labs and manufacturers for approval of the ‘product family’. Typically, all models which are included in the family have common design, construction, parts, or assemblies important to ensure conformity with applicable requirements.

According to the guidelines for quantitative selection of samples, a total eight modules will be taken at random from a production batch. All these modules should have been manufactured from the specified materials and components in accordance with the relevant drawings and process sheets. Every module should contain- name, monogram or symbol of manufacturer, model number, unique serial number, nominal wattage, year and country of origin, and brand name if applicable.

The ministry has instructed test labs to not accept the modules for testing without the above details.

Similarly, guidelines for PV modules’ safety qualification and requirements for testing and constructions have also been issued by the government.

In case of change in cell technology or modification in system, back sheet material, junction box, power output, module size etc., the government has made provisions for retesting to maintain the certification. Retesting guidelines permits increase in module size by 20 percent in length and width but there is no limit to decrease in module size.

Apart from these, the guidelines also mandate that different brands should register separately.

In line with the changing dynamics of the Indian solar sector, the MNRE recently brought battery energy storage system (BESS) under the ambit of the Solar Photovoltaics, Systems, Devices, and Component Goods (Requirement for Compulsory Registration under BIS Act) Order 2017. The order was issued by the MNRE in September 2017.

In April 2018, MNRE had also issued the schedule of implementation of the Quality Control order.

Recently, Mercom reported about the dearth of test centers in the country in face of rapid expansion of the domestic renewable industry. Interactions with various project developers and manufacturers in the country revealed that the widespread sentiment of the industry was that the announced National Lab Policy and Quality Control Order are adding a new wrinkle that could slow down project commissioning.

The National Lab Policy for renewable energy testing and accreditation was created to improve  quality and reliability of renewable energy projects in India. MNRE believes that the country’s target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 has made it necessary to develop and update the standards for various renewable energy systems and their related components and set up performance testing and certification facilities to ensure their quality.

Nitin is a staff reporter at Mercomindia.com and writes on renewable energy and related sectors. Prior to Mercom, Nitin has worked for CNN IBN, India News, Agricultural Spectrum and Bureaucracy Today. He received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Communication from Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University and Master’s degree in International Relations from Jindal School of International Affairs. More articles from Nitin Kabeer