Thin Film Solar PV Industry’s First Quality Tested Certification Awarded to First Solar

Thin Film Solar PV

Thin Film Solar PV  ( Solar Thermal Magazine) – LAS VEGAS, Oct, 2014. SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL — Today VDE Testing and Certification Institute (VDE), a globally recognized premium certification body, in conjunction with partner Fraunhofer ISE, a world leading applied solar research institute, announced the issuance of VDE Quality Tested (QT) Certification to First Solar, Inc. for its design, engineering and construction of the Macho Springs 50MW (AC) power plant located in Luna County, New Mexico.

The plant, which went into commercial operation in May of 2014, utilizes First Solar’s thin film module and balance of system technology.  A first for the industry, the successful QT certification of the complete PV plant marks the implementation of a strategic alliance to enhance technical bankability.

John Sedgwick, President VDE Americas commented:

The VDE Quality Tested Certification sets First Solar apart, as they have now passed the most rigorous quality assurance requirements at the PV plant/system level, thereby assuring a significant reduction of technical risk for the financial performance of First Solar systems. Certification of the Macho Springs facility documents that First Solar leads the industry in technical bankability at the PV power plant/system level.

“First Solar is committed to providing the highest quality and the lowest risk products and systems in the solar industry. We have implemented rigorous, world-class quality assurance processes throughout our operations,” said Azmat Siddiqi, Senior Vice President Quality & Reliability at First Solar.

 We are honored to be recognized by VDE for our relentless pursuit of high performance products and installed systems.

Holistic PV Plant Certification Heralds New Age of Risk Reduction, Quality and Safety
For years, certification of PV plant sub components according to international standards (such as IEC standards for PV modules and inverters) has been the basis for establishing technical bankability of PV plants. Leading the industry, the VDE QT Certification of Macho Springs verifies the plant as a bankable solar asset and affirms that independent experts have validated every step from initial design through to installation and operation.

“With the VDE Quality Tested certificate, VDE and Fraunhofer ISE strive to set a new benchmark in the global industry for PV power plant quality and reliability assurance, leading to greater risk reduction. We verify not only the quality of individual plant components, but also the safety and performance of the overall system,” said Burkhard Holder, Head of Energy and Smart Technologies at VDE Institute Germany.

Such a comprehensive approach, including both field and lab testing, leads to a significantly higher level of technical bankability and risk reduction for PV power plant investors and financial entities.

Highlighting the stringent, comprehensive level of quality assurance that the VDE QT Certification signifies, it was designed to deliver significant advantages in four key areas: electrical and mechanical safety of the system; system performance – through a highly accurate energy yield report; proper system operation; and independent verification for investors, lenders, insurance companies and other stakeholders. The VDE QT Certification is composed of comprehensive design review, sophisticated modeling and more than 300 testing points which must be passed in order to achieve the VDE Quality Tested Mark of certification.

“Independent quality Assurance for PV systems has played an important role ever since the earliest days of PV deployment,” commented Klaus Kiefer, Head of Quality Assurance PV Modules and Power Plants at Fraunhofer ISE.

We are very pleased to add our long-term expertise in precise performance evaluation as an integral part of the VDE QT certification. Our team worked closely with both VDE and First Solar staff to apply our experience and knowledge to assure the maximum quality and performance at the Macho Springs facility.

“This certification brings more than 30 years and 38GW of German PV experience to the US for the highest level of quality and superior confidence that the asset will provide long term financial returns,” according to Mr. Sedgwick.

The awarding of VDE QT Certification to the Macho Springs facility highlights the importance of professional certification procedures to ensure the highest plant quality and technical bankability. The Macho Springs plant represents the caliber of asset that the industry has been working towards—an independently-verified high quality PV plant that is providing power at prices competitive with traditional non-renewable base load power.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.