TÜV SÜD certification increases reliability of smart PV modules

TÜV SÜD announces the launch of certifications for smart PV modules. Leveraging on its authoritative technical background, the international service provider formulated its two new certifications using existing IEC 61215/IEC 61646 and IEC 61730 certifications for traditional PV modules as a basis.

A key indicator of PV plants is their power generation efficiency. Smart PV modules are used to improve the overall efficiency of PV plants by integrating traditional PV modules with a "smart" power converter, such as a micro-inverter or power optimizer. Micro-inverters or power optimizers are able to increase the power production of the whole string by means of power conversion control and module-level MPPT functions, which can eliminate the "cascading effect" encountered when using traditional PV modules in the plants. Although substantial improvement in the conversion efficiency of crystalline silicon and thin-film solar cells is unlikely to be reached in the near future, cost reductions associated with the use of smart PV modules have prominently increased the advantage of using these modules, triggering a major trend in their development.

While standards such as IEC 61215/IEC 61646 and IEC 61730 specify the requirements of performance and safety for traditional PV modules, there has been no such uniform requirement for the power converters of smart PV modules. Additionally, the current IEC 62109 safety standard does not consider the harsh environmental conditions in which power converters are often used with PV modules. In view of this, TÜV SÜD integrated IEC 61215/IEC 61646, IEC 61730, IEC 62109 and other relevant standards, to develop a more comprehensive assessment and testing program. There are two parts: smart PV modules with micro-inverter for AC and smart PV modules with power optimizer for DC. The certified smart PV modules will be safer and more reliable.

TÜV SÜD's smart PV module certifications are widely recognized by global PV plant operators and smart PV module manufacturers. Team Austria, champion of US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, has used Alternative Energies' PV modules – to be precise Holleis Lotus G2, a type of smart PV module certified according to TÜV SÜD's smart PV module standard. In China, Wuxi Saijing Solar has also been awarded TÜV SÜD's smart PV module certification.

Both Saijing and Alternative Energies use SolarEdge's power optimizer in their smart PV modules as a core component. SolarEdge, a world-famous inverter and power optimizer supplier, began partnering with TÜV SÜD in 2012 over its power optimizer OPJ ***-LV series, which has gained global recognition in the market. In 2013, SolarEdge expanded its business further with a large number of PV module manufacturers such as JA Solar, Chinal, Saijing and Renesola, adopting the company's power optimizer.

"Adhering to the core philosophy of TÜV SÜD, we look forward to partnering the photovoltaic industry with innovative and value-added technical services as the industry advances towards smart PV modules, making PV modules not only ‘smart', but also more reliable", says Dr Robert Puto, Head of Photovoltaics at the Product Service Division of TÜV SÜD.

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