SaurEnergy Explains: Why Is PVEL Scorecard Important For Indian Manufacturers?

Highlights :

  • 10 out of 53 top performers to feature on the PVEL Scorecard are Indian firms
  • Only one Indian solar manufacturer excelled in all 7 PQP test categories and it is not Adani Solar, Vikram Solar or Waaree
SaurEnergy Explains: Why Is PVEL Scorecard Important For Indian Manufacturers?

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), an autonomous testing facility catering to the downstream solar industry and affiliated with the Kiwa Group, has released its newest PV Module Reliability Scorecard. The latest edition of the annual scorecard highlights 388 model types of PV modules from 53 manufacturers as Top Performers in PVEL’s rigorous testing.

This year’s list highlights a remarkable achievement for India, with 10 out of the 53 featured manufacturers coming from the country, representing a significant 19 percent of the total. The standout performers from India include Emmvee Photovoltaic (Bengaluru), Waaree (Mumbai), Premier Energies (Hyderabad), ReNew (Gurugram), Vikram Solar (Kolkata), Adani Solar (Ahmedabad), Goldi Solar (Surat), Jakson (Noida), Tata Power Solar (Mumbai), and Saatvik (Ambala).

SaurEnergy Explains provides an overview of the testing parameters used to determine which firms were included in the list. Further, it explains why an inclusion into the PVEL scorecard matters.

What is the PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard?

The PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard is an annual report published by Kiwa PVEL that assesses the performance and reliability of photovoltaic (PV) modules. As part of Kiwa PVEL’s Product Qualification Program (PQP), it serves as a crucial resource for the solar industry by providing measurable metrics to replace assumptions about PV module performance.

Manufacturers whose modules achieve Top Performer status in these tests are highlighted in the Scorecard, demonstrating the quality and durability of their products. This listing acts as a benchmark for quality and reliability in the solar industry, aiding buyers and investors in making informed decisions with empirical data on PV module performance.

The 2024 Scorecard, marking its 10th edition, features a record number of Top Performer manufacturers, including 20 first-time Top Performers.

More Metrics for Enhanced Quality

To better assess the quality and resilience of PV modules, PVEL has added new criteria to its top performers list in the latest edition. Besides expanding the PQP testing, the Scorecard now includes a category for hail resilience, highlighting modules that can withstand hailstones of 40 mm or more without breaking the glass.

It also set higher standards for LID+LETID and PAN Top Performers, reflecting recent technological improvements. This edition focuses on manufacturers who excel in various areas, showing the effects of different cell technologies and module designs. Additionally, for the first time, it provides a detailed analysis of Kiwa PVEL’s Incidence Angle Modifier (IAM) test results.

Testing Parameters Explained

The 2024 PV Module Reliability Scorecard identified Top Performers based on seven PQP test categories. Top Performers were determined by averaging that specific test’s results for every bill of materials (BOM) tested by Kiwa PVEL that is sold under the same model type.

1) Thermal Cycling (TC)

This test assesses the module’s ability to withstand temperature changes. Modules are subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations to simulate the day-night cycle and seasonal changes.

The Thermal Cycling (TC) test increases the standard certification test from 200 to 600 cycles to better simulate the temperature changes a PV module experiences over its lifespan. These extreme temperature changes put stress on the module’s components, which can weaken the bonds inside the module and its junction box, potentially reducing performance. This test is especially important for places with large temperature differences between day and night. To be a Top Performer in the TC test, a module must have less than 2 per cent power loss.

2) Damp Heat (DH)

The damp heat test subjects modules to high humidity and temperature over an extended period to assess their resistance to moisture-related degradation. The PQP’s Damp Heat (DH) test lasts for 2000 hours, which is twice as long as the standard IEC/UL test. This extended test is used to see how modules hold up in very hot and humid conditions. For modules that are prone to problems, this test can reveal long-term damage and failures, showing how heat and moisture can weaken the materials that hold the module together.

To be a Top Performer in the DH test, a module must have less than 2 per cent power degradation

3) Mechanical Stress Sequence (MSS)

MSS evaluates the module’s structural integrity by applying mechanical loads or stress, simulating the effects of wind, snow, and other physical forces. It goes beyond IEC/UL certification to provide a more comprehensive assessment of module and cell durability. It identifies potential weaknesses in the glass and cells by performing load tests followed by climate chamber tests. This test is essential for locations that experience extreme weather, like heavy snow and strong winds. The test is essential for locations that experience extreme weather, like heavy snow and strong winds. To be a Top Performer in MSS, a module must have less than 2 per cent power degradation.

4) Hail Stress Sequence (HSS)

The PQP’s Hail Stress Sequence (HSS) is the new test introduced as a testing parameter for solar PV. This is most likely considered a crucial parameter considering the increasing risk of extreme weather events adversely affecting the solar systems across the globe. It goes beyond the IEC/UL minimum hail requirements by testing PV modules with ice balls ranging from 35 to 55 mm in size, ensuring consistent and comparable impact energies. This test primarily focuses on glass breakage but also gives insights into the susceptibility of cells to cracking. Top Performers for HSS must not have experienced glass breakage during hail testing using 40 mm hail or larger.

5) Potential-Induced Degradation

PID test checks for performance losses due to voltage stress-induced leakage currents that can cause power degradation over time. The PID test extends the IEC/UL certification duration to 192 hours, twice as long. There are multiple forms of PID. PID-shunting happens when sodium ions from the glass move to pinholes in the anti-reflective coatings on the cells, permanently reducing performance. PID-polarity involves static charge build-up due to internal circuit voltages and may be reversible. Just like TC, DH, and MSS, PID of top performers must have less than 2 per cent power degradation.

6) LID and LETID

The combination of Light-Induced Degradation (LID) and Light and Elevated Temperature-Induced Degradation (LETID) tests measure the module’s susceptibility to power loss when exposed to sunlight and elevated temperatures. LID affects various cell technologies, especially boron-doped cells, and stabilizes shortly after module deployment. LETID primarily impacted early generation PERC cells and is more severe in hotter climates.

To be counted among the Top Performers in the category, the combined power degradation for LID + LETID must be less than 1 per cent.

7) PAN Performance

This test assesses the module’s performance under real-world conditions. This includes its ability to maintain power output when partially shaded or dirty. The PAN testing and .pan file generation improve PV module performance simulations by using empirical data across a range of temperature and irradiance conditions. This process is crucial for accurate energy models, as it better reflects real-world conditions and supports more informed decision-making in module procurement and project development.

Top Performers for PAN performance must rank in the top quartile for energy yield in Kiwa PVEL’s PVsyst simulations.

PVEL Scorecard

From India, Emmvee stands out as the sole company to attain Top Performer status in all seven tests, one of only nine firms worldwide to do so. Additionally, three firms—Waaree, Premier Energies, and ReNew—achieved top status in six out of seven tests. Vikram Solar, Adani Solar, Goldi Solar, Jakson, Tata Power Solar, and Saatvik also made it to the list.

What Does it Mean for Indian Manufacturers to be Included in the List?

Getting listed in the PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard is considered highly significant for manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) modules. It indicates that their products have been rigorously tested and have met or exceeded the performance and reliability standards set by Kiwa PVEL. This applies to Indian manufacturers as well, especially when the country added 7 of its 10 manufacturers in the last couple of years. Notably, the country added five new entrants debuting as the top manufacturers in this year’s list, adding to two from last edition.

Other reasons are also important. Firstly, the KIWA PVEL Module Reliability Scorecard is a globally recognized benchmark for solar module quality, and being listed as a Top Performer validates the quality and reliability of a manufacturer’s products. This recognition can catalyze market growth and attract global buyers, as it serves as a testament to the product’s performance, which is crucial for potential buyers. Many buyers in fact might not consider a manufacturer without a PVEL qualification.

The inclusion of numerous Indian manufacturers, such as EMMVEE, Adani Solar, Vikram Solar, Waaree, Premier Energies, ReNew, Saatvik Solar, Tata Power, and Goldi Solar, indicates a competitive edge in the industry. The scorecard’s assessment through rigorous testing procedures, including thermal cycling, damp heat, and hail stress, highlights the manufacturers’ commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. Aligning with international standards through the scorecard helps Indian manufacturers compete globally, boosting investor confidence in their capabilities and potential for future growth. Moreover, it enhances the brand reputation for the quality and reliability of its products for not just these firms but Indian solar manufacturing more broadly.

India has emerged as a significant hub of solar PV manufacturing with about 110 GW of module manufacturing capacity to come online in the next three years. As the market expands, being included in PVEL’s list will enhance the chances of Indian products penetrating the global market, particularly in regions dominated by a leading player in the field, China, neighbouring India.

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Junaid Shah

Junaid holds a Master of Engineering degree in Construction & Management. Being a civil engineering postgraduate and using his technical prowess, he has channeled his passion for writing in the environmental niche.