MNRE Seeks Stakeholder Comments on Revised Standards for Solar Modules and Inverters

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a notification detailing the recommendations of the expert committee on implementing the quality control order titled ‘Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Systems, Devices, and Components Goods Order 2017’ under Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act.

The order includes solar modules, inverters, and battery storage with standards adopted from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for these products.

On June 14, 2019, the BIS published the revised standards for solar PV modules and inverters and had suggested that MNRE hold stakeholder consultations before it is implemented on June 11, 2020. Subsequently, the BIS had extended the timeline of implementation, taking into account the COVID-19 lockdown.

Now, the ministry has invited comments and suggestions from all the stakeholders on the recommendations of the experts’ committee by September 07, 2020.


Context

MNRE set up a three-member expert committee comprising representatives from the MNRE, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), and a BIS-certified test lab to discuss the revised standards for implementation.

Out of the recommended standards, five are for crystalline modules, and seven are for thin film-based modules.

The expert committee noted that the existing standards were in many parts incoherent, and there was a need to organize it based on technology, inclusive of all relevant testing requirements for efficient implementation. They felt that one standard for one project with testing sequences properly organized is the way to go forward, and it would simplify the testing and certification process. Taking this into account, the committee recommended two separate Indian standards–one for the crystalline modules and the other for thin film-based modules.

The committee also noted that the fire test for modules as per the existing conditions should be continued as it is highly relevant in field conditions. Regarding the revised IS 16169 (2019) standard for inverters for the island prevention measure test, the committee recommended that the same should be adopted for implementation. The committee suggested that one inclusive standard should be in place to take care of all testing requirements for off-grid and grid connection requirements.

The experts’ committee recommended two separate Indian Standards for crystalline and thin-film modules by combining related standards, including the standard on PID (Potential Induced Degradation) test for crystalline modules, and implementation of the revised standards on inverters.

Mercom had earlier reported that the mandatory certification was adding to cost and restricting new technologies. The MNRE may need to consider revising the regulations based on the latest technologies and realities on the ground. The standards for product quality should not limit access to the latest in equipment technology and prevent the Indian market from falling behind compared to the rest of the world.