It can be difficult when purchasing a PV module to understand what makes a quality product. While the modules on the Clean Energy Council Approved Products List meet the relevant Australian and International Standards, this is only a minimum requirement.
To assist purchasers in identifying quality products, the Clean Energy Council’s list of approved PV modules now highlights products that meet a range of higher standards through Enhanced Listings.
An Enhanced Listing means that the manufacturer has undertaken to use only those materials that meet both the base standards and the requirements of the additional standards.
Enhanced Listings give installers and consumers the critical information they need to select modules of the highest possible quality and that are appropriate to their installation environment.
The following provides a description of the Enhanced Listings currently included in the Clean Energy Council's Approved List of PV modules.
Rigorous surveillance and testing of production modules to existing standards is provided by the VDE Quality Tested program. This has recently been updated to be compatible with the 2016 versions of IEC 61215 and IEC 61730.
This certification program has been developed to provide assurance of increased confidence in the quality of modules. Along with quarterly laboratory testing of a sample of production modules, it also requires production line sample testing on a daily basis, with some tests required for 100 per cent of production.
The technical standard, IEC TS 62941 Guidelines for increased confidence in PV module design qualification and type approval, was released in 2016. It is an extension of the IEC 9001 quality standard and provides PV module design and manufacturing certification.
A certification to this standard gives a good degree of confidence that the modules will meet their claimed warranty lifetime. The Audit Report must be supplied, and the design must be adequately evaluated.
The Product Qualification Program (PQP) of PV Evolution Laboratories provides rigorous test program beyond IEC 61215 and IEC 61730, and targeting known failure modes of solar modules.
These include tests for additional sequences of IEC 61215, potential induced degradation (PID), dynamic mechanical loading, and in future will include backsheet degradation and light and elevated temperature induced degradation (LeTID).
The Final Engineering Report and the Factory Witness Report must be supplied. PQP testing applies to only a subset of the materials which may be used in modules. CEC enhanced listing, the manufacturer must agree to use only those components tested.
This standard is important if you are installing in a coast location, particularly within 500m of the sea to ensure the modules will not degrade prematurely.
From 1 April 2020, this listing will be restricted to modules passing severity 6 only.
This is important in the vicinity of intensive livestock production such as chicken, pig and cattle sheds. The animals give rise to ammonia which can degrade some panels.
The Module Accelerated Sequential Test was developed to address known failure mechanisms with module backsheets which have led to significant field failures through cracking, delamination and water ingress in some newer backsheet materials.
This test sequence replicates these premature field failures and gives confidence that the backsheets will last the expected 25+ year lifetime. Most PVF backsheets already pass this standard. Other materials need to show a test report from an independent laboratory accepted by CEC.
Shorter versions of this test are currently under development, and will be accepted where equivalent verification against field degradation can be demonstrated. Manufacturers must undertake to use only the qualified backsheets in the Australian market.
This technical standard provides test methods for resistance to potential-induced degradation (PID). PID resistance is an important requirement particularly for larger systems where long-term output must be assured.
Installations in hot humid environments are particularly prone, and the problem is exacerbated with higher system voltages. As a technical standard, there are two alternative test methods and no pass/fail criteria. CEC currently allows certification to either method with <5% degradation.
From 1 April 2020, this listing will be restricted to Method A only (96hr, 85degC, 85%RH) and a maximum of 3% degradation. The worst-case polarity for the cell technology must be used.
Installations in cyclonic regions require special attention to ensure the modules remain fixed in place in a cyclone. At JCU, modules and framing are tested as an assembly to verify the strength using both static pressure and LHL cyclic pressure.
The addition of dynamic mechanical loading provides a more realistic test than normal static only testing. The performance of the PV array after testing is not evaluated.
Note that this listing goes beyond what is required for the Northern Territory, and an expanded cyclone testing category to include those modules which are deemed to comply with the NT requirements is under consideration.
Materials will be verified as part of the Clean Energy Council's test program, and non-complying products will be considered to be in breach of the listing Terms and Conditions.
Claims on datasheets of higher standards that are not granted an Enhanced Listing must be marked “optional” or “on request” if the Clean Energy Council has sighted evidence of testing. If no suitable evidence can be supplied, the claim is required to be removed.
When applying to have a PV module listed with an Enhanced Listing, please use the Enhanced Listing checklist to ensure that you include all the required documentation.
New application requirements will apply from 1 April 2020. A revised checklist for these new requirements will apply.