The solar industry is growing up. First there were solar modules. Then more and more manufacturers entered the market. How to distinguish? TüV certification came up as the new hype. A sign for quality, and reliability of the manufacturer. At least they had to pay a serious amount of money for certification, so this proved the company was not a opportunistic one-day-fly. But, with more than 400 brands being TüV certified a new step was necessary. Next came the ‘white list’ of Banks. Your module is not on the ‘white list’ of a bank? Then forget about obtaining financing for the PV project. By the way, can anyone provide the qualification rules and name the independent body qualifying modules for the ‘white list’? Your module can be IEC-certified by TüV, but banks aren’t so transparent about how they produce lists and financial products.
The white lists are growing. Some banks can accept more than a hundred module brands. More and more manufacturers have grown into big companies with a solid track record and balance sheet.
Modules are not rocket science
Does it make sense to focus so much on the solar modules? The modules are guaranteed for 25 years of power. Quality in most cases is more than sufficient. What other products can be found these days with so much guarantees and quality certification? Manufacturers claim that production of PV modules is ‘not rocket sience’. So why focus so much on a piece of glass with some silicon slices?
And next came insurances. Modules, projects and the companies can be insured, all for the sake of the investors and banks. Does this all make sense and what will be the end of this development?
Do banks have inverter white lists?
Solar modules are only part of a solar PV system. If modules hardly ever fail, aren’t inverters a more crucial component? Inverters are the real high-tech part of your energy production unit. Your module could be doing pretty well, if the inverter fails you won’t generate much electricity.
Still, we don’t hear banks talk to much about a white list of acceptable inverter brands.
But, thinking one step further, even certificates and white lists of inverters won’t be sufficient for customers. What counts in the end, is the reliability of all the components together: your complete PV system. Customers just want to be sure that a system will produce electricity.
What is needed is a quality guarantee for your complete PV system. And maybe even more important: the produced electricity should be of acceptable and good quality. The grid operator will have to accept your electricity input. And your appliances at home should work well on the solar electricity coming from your inverter. The electricity quality guarantee will put even more emphasis on the only high-tech component of the PV system: the inverter.
White list for PV systems
What might be helpful is a ‘white list’ of complete pv systems. Systems well designed and engineered with a perfect combination of components that have proven to work well together. The financing industry should take its focus a step further to quality control of the end product, a reliable complete system producing good quality electricity.
Did you ever complain about the certificates of the boogies in a new car? Ever asked if your tiles are on a white list? You just want all components in a car to work well together, for many years. In the near future, the brand of the solar system supplier, could become more important than the module or inverter brand. In that perspective it makes sense that module manufacturers expand their activities over the complete supply chain. From silicon to cell and module and even further downstream to complete system and project supply. The future might be system branding or branding of the end-product: electricity. Will the customer be ready to buy First Solar electricty, Trina solar energy or accept uncertified ‘Jansen solar electricity’?