Trade Resources Industry Views Germany's VDE Testing and Certification Institute Has Issued VDE QT Certification

Germany's VDE Testing and Certification Institute Has Issued VDE QT Certification

Germany's VDE Testing and Certification Institute, in conjunction with partner Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany, has issued VDE Quality Tested (QT) Certification to cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA for its design, engineering & construction of the Macho Springs 50MWAC power plant in Luna County, NM, USA.

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

“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,” says John Sedgwick, president of VDE Testing and Certification Institute’s US subsidiary VDE Americas. “Certification of the Macho Springs facility documents that First Solar leads the industry in technical bankability at the PV power plant/system level,” he adds.

“We have implemented rigorous, world‐class quality assurance processes throughout our operations,” says Azmat Siddiqi, First Solar’s senior VP Quality & Reliability.

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. 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.

“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,” says Burkhard Holder, head of Energy and Smart Technologies at VDE Institute Germany. “We verify not only the quality of individual plant components, but also the safety and performance of the overall system,” he adds. “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 its stringent, comprehensive level of quality assurance, VDE QT Certification was designed to deliver 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. Certification consists of comprehensive design review, modelling, and more than 300 testing points that 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,” says 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,” he adds.

“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,” says 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,” he adds. “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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VDE and Fraunhofer ISE Awards First Solar Thin-Film PV Industry's First Quality Tested Certification