April 16, 2023

Certifications in PV Module Manufacturing

PV module manufacturing has become a vital component of the global energy market as demand for clean, renewable energy continues to grow. As more players enter the renewable energy space, competition rises.

In this increasingly competitive market, it is crucial to meet the standards and certification requirements for a solar manufacturer.

In this article, we discuss the significance of certifications and regulations in the solar energy industry, the major certification bodies and their standards, and the benefits and challenges of obtaining certifications.

Why Are Certifications Required for PV Module Manufacturing?


Certifications are a form of recognition that proves that a product meets specific industry standards. In some cases, they are mandatory requirements that manufacturers must comply with to ensure the safety and quality of their products.

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Meeting standards and certification requirements is crucial for manufacturers for several reasons.

Certifications are badges of quality that demonstrate a manufacturer’s commitment to producing high-quality products.

Certifications help assure customers that they are purchasing a product that meets industry standards and is safe to use.

In some cases, certifications can help manufacturers gain a competitive edge in the market by differentiating their products from those of their competitors.

Major Photovoltaic Certification Bodies and Their Standards


The PV market is regulated by several certification bodies that set industry standards and requirements. The most notable certification bodies include the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the CB Scheme.

The IEC is a global organization that develops and publishes international standards for electricity and electronic technologies, including solar. The IEC has developed several standards for solar PV, including IEC 61215, IEC 61646, IEC 61730, IEC 62108, IEC 61701, and IEC 62716.

UL is an independent certification organization that provides safety and quality certifications for various products, including solar cell manufacture. UL 1703 is the standard for safety certification of flat-plate photovoltaic modules and panels. It is the main solar panel certification for the US and Canada. 

The CB Scheme is a global certification system that allows manufacturers to obtain product certifications that are recognized in multiple countries.

IEC Standards for Solar Panels


Some of the most common standards for solar cells include those set by the International Electrotechnical Commission. The IEC is a nonprofit that establishes international assessment standards for electronic devices, including solar modules.

The IEC has developed several standards for solar modules that manufacturers must comply with to obtain certifications. These standards include:

IEC 61215: The IEC 61215 is one of the core testing standards for solar panels. It specifies the requirements for design qualification and approval of crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic modules, especially for non-US countries. 

IEC 61646: This standard specifies the requirements for design qualification and type approval of thin-film terrestrial photovoltaic modules.

IEC 61730: This standard specifies the requirements for the safety qualification of photovoltaic modules.

IEC 62108: This standard specifies the design qualification and type approval of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules and assemblies.

IEC 61701: This standard specifies the requirements for salt mist corrosion testing.

IEC 62716: This standard specifies the requirements for testing and evaluating the potential induced degradation (PID) resistance of photovoltaic (PV) modules.

These are the most important certifications you should be aware of. This is, however, not a comprehensive list as there are other regional and country-specific standards. A critical factor to consider is the target customers of the solar panels.

General Standards and Regulations for Solar Manufacturing


In addition to specific standards for solar energy, manufacturers must also comply with general PV module manufacturing standards and regulations. These include:

CE Marking: CE marking is a mandatory conformity mark that certifies that a product meets European Union (EU) safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.

FCC Accreditation: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electronic products, including solar modules. It is a mandatory certification for electrical equipment and electronics manufactured or sold in the US.

The CB Scheme is an international system for the mutual acceptance of product safety test reports and certificates for electrical and electronic equipment, devices, and components. It is an international program operated by the International Electrotechnical Commission for Electrical Equipment (IECEE).

Location-Specific Regulation and Certification


In addition to global certification bodies and standards, solar manufacturers must also comply with location-specific regulations and certifications.

For example, in Europe, solar modules must comply with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, while in the United States, manufacturers must comply with the National Electric Code (NEC) and the International Building Code (IBC).

It’s important to research the target market in which your solar modules will be used to get a complete understanding of the certification required.

Benefits of Certification for Solar Module Manufacturers


Certifications play a big role in reputation and brand management for solar PV production companies. They demonstrate a commitment to producing high-quality products, which can help to build trust and credibility with customers.

In some markets, they are a legal requirement so it can be said that certifications give you access to new renewable energy markets and customers.

Challenges in Obtaining Certifications and Regulations


While certifications and regulations are essential for solar module manufacturers, obtaining them can be challenging. The certification process can be time-consuming and expensive, and manufacturers must ensure that their products meet strict industry standards.

Additionally, location-specific regulations can add an additional layer of complexity, as manufacturers must comply with different requirements in different markets.

Conclusion


Nearly every trade is governed by certain regulations or has minimum standards by which players must operate. In this sense, solar PV module manufacturing is no different from construction, consumer products or even services like tax consultancy.

While obtaining certifications can be challenging, it is in most cases a necessary step in the process of producing and marketing solar products.

Not only does certification give you a competitive advantage, but it is also mandatory in some cases. It’s important to research the standard requirements for your market before you get started with PV manufacturing.


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