UL, a global certification company, has completed its first solar module testing and certification after the revision of the IEC standards in March 2016.
The new IEC 61215 and IEC 61730 standards were revised to reflect the emerging requirements of the solar industry due to changes in technology and climatic and other environmental conditions. For example, new standards test the ability of solar PV modules to perform in varying degrees for outdoor pollution to better assess panel damage.
The latest standards also differ in other ways such as signaling changes in the test procedure, sequence, duration and methodology for evaluating structural safety and performance of solar modules manufactured with crystalline silicon and another thin-film technology.
On the question of how the new specifications will affect the testing, Chakradhar Byreddy, UL’s Director for Renewable Energy for Asia Pacific told Mercom, “The criteria for visual inspection are more stringent in the 2016 revision as are the requirements for functioning safely at higher voltages.”
India has mandated that to ensure the use of quality products in solar projects, the tests must be conducted by labs for compulsory registration with the BIS for the implementation of the order titled Solar Photovoltaics Systems, Devices and Component Goods Order 2017.
However, the dearth of testing laboratories and the arduous, time-taking process are adversely affecting the implementation of quality guidelines. Therefore the government has extended the deadline for the self-certification of solar photovoltaic modules many times.
Answering the question as to whether this new specification is necessary or an added burden for Indian module manufacturers?, he added, “BIS certification is a local regulatory requirement to access the Indian market. The IEC certification is essential to gain market share in Latin America, Europe and Africa.”
Suresh Sugavanam, managing director of UL for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa said, “Compliance with IEC standards are imperative to gain increased market share around the globe. India has a significant share of PV module manufacturers who cater to the global market and they can gain competitive advantage by partnering with us to gain the IEC certification to ensure wider market entry and faster time to market.”