—Sponsored article by CSA Group
To best ensure the level of quality required for photovoltaic (PV) modules to last upwards of 20 years, manufacturers have often had to rely on their own set of protocols. This lack of a uniform set of requirements in the industry often creates ambiguity and can lead to decreased functionality, greater costs for manufacturers and a lack of consumer confidence. At the same time, concerns over cost reduction at the expense of module quality continue to persist.
Recognizing that consolidating all of the protocols into one comprehensive guide could potentially address these concerns, CSA Group recently published C450 – Photovoltaic (PV) Module Testing Protocol for Quality Assurance Programs – a new standard that is currently available as an express document (EXP450) on the CSA Group online store in PDF format. CSA Group is actively working on gaining an ANSI standard (C450) for the testing protocol, to demonstrate further consensus into the need and importance of such a program.
The document is designed to help PV module manufacturers test the quality and performance of their products against a unified set of requirements applicable to the needs of different PV industry stakeholders across North America. Representing the first step for further standardization in the PV module testing industry, C450 provides a publically-available, consistent and comparative evaluation that can be used by a variety of manufacturers and labs across North America to reduce inconsistencies and provide an even-playing field in the industry.
With so many players in the industry, agreement among all stakeholders as to what a unified document should look like created a wide gap. Developing C450 using a bi-national committee of stakeholder experts—representing manufacturers, testing bodies, research firms and financiers from both the United States and Canada—helped to close this gap. It establishes testing requirements based on industry best practices, helps identify potential problems with new manufacturing equipment and facilities and provides data for ongoing quality monitoring programs after validation testing.
Replacing multiple protocols with one test brings significant benefits to manufacturers including: reduced costs; ease in comparing data; and reduction in test backlogs. In addition, the document is designed to be flexible and can be quickly updated as new test methods are developed and validated, so the advances in PV testing technology can quickly be incorporated.
CSA Group offers testing programs based on C450 through its labs in both the U.S. and China. CSA Group’s testing capabilities are designed to provide full scope testing of PV modules to latest protocols.
To view more articles from CSA Group visit the Safety & Sustainability Centre.