As photovoltaics (PV) markets expand across the United States the manufacture of safe, reliable, and high-quality PV modules is critical to achieve cost competitive solar energy. Since the development and codification of testing standards for PV modules requires a lengthy multiyear process, Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and National Renewable Energy Laboratory worked together on an accelerated schedule for 9 months in 2013 to develop a voluntary standard that goes beyond current test protocols to qualify superior PV modules.

This voluntary standard called, Qualification Plus, recommends testing beyond the current International Electrotechnical Commission standard 61215, which is not adequate to predict quality and lifetime. The new standard is based on the latest scientific knowledge and goes further than the required initial performance tests to assess—quality, reliability, performance and durability—of modules in the field.

Qualification Plus includes three new parts:

  • New or revised accelerated tests for components and modules including tests applying
    • System-voltage bias
    • Ultra-violet light
    • Mechanical stress, which have been developed and agreed upon by international standards groups.
  • Revised sampling procedures, including the requirement of random sampling from the production line
  • Required audit of the quality management system

Manufacturers that choose to test their products to this new voluntary standard will be able to better screen for module failures. Higher quality PV modules will help U.S. based manufacturers compete against their international counterparts and attract more financiers to the growing PV market.

Qualification Plus has been endorsed by industry co-authors and more than 20 peer reviewers. The standard is in the process of being implemented by major standards testing labs in the United States—e.g., TUV, Intertek—and in a few states.

The Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) focuses on achieving the goals of the SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.

<h5>Positive Impact</h5><p>Since the development and codification of testing standards for PV modules requires a lengthy multiyear process, Department of Energy&rsquo;s SunShot Initiative and National Renewable Energy Laboratory worked together on an accelerated schedule for 9 months in 2013 to develop a voluntary standard that goes beyond current test protocols to qualify superior PV modules.</p><h5>Locations</h5><p>Golden, Colorado</p><h5>Partners</h5><p>National Renewable Energy Laboratory</p><h5>Clean Energy Sector</h5><p><a href="/node/767746">Renewable electricity generation</a></p>