RETC’s 2020 PV Module Index Report shows overall improved performance

Renewable Energy Test Center, LLC (RETC) published its annual PV Module Index (PVMI 2020) report near the end of last year, using its independent test lab data to recognize high performers and showcase high achievement in PV module manufacturing.

The annual PVMI report consolidates their independent test data to share best practices regarding testing and manufacturing as well as relevant performance distribution data in three essential categories: reliability indicators, quality indicators, and performance indicators. Manufacturers that achieve high performance according to these three disciplines not only demonstrate a commitment to excellence but also provide a benchmark—a quantitative measure representing the best that the industry has to offer.

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“Manufacturers have become more likely to take extra care in vetting their secondary and tertiary suppliers and to perform more rigorous and more frequent reliability monitoring tests,” commented Cherif Kedir, Chief Executive Officer of RETC. “As developers require and sometimes take on additional due diligence on these products, the industry will benefit as projects are fulfilled with higher-quality and more reliable modules ensuring a higher yield and lower overall O&M costs over the life of these installations.”

RETC recorded all of the published data related to reliability, performance, and quality at its testing facilities during the 2019 calendar year. To contextualize these data, RETC’s PVMI report provides information about relevant test methods, performance metrics, and best practices for quality assurance and control. Additionally, the PVMI considers some emerging industry trends and mines historical PV module listing data.

The overall High Achiever was LONGi Solar. For module BOM selection, the company has always maintained a highly cautious approach, ensuring long-term product reliability. In addition, LONGi uses Ga doping to control mono PERC module LID, and has also optimized the hydrogen passivation process to mitigate LeTID.

Highlights from the PVMI report include:

  • Nearly 37% of modules that RETC subjected to Damp Heat testing in 2019 experienced less than 2% power loss.
  • Additionally, more than 60% of products tested experienced power loss between 2% and 5%, meaning these modules meet the 5% performance degradation allowance in the certification standard in spite of the doubled test duration
  • A reflection of improved performance: top manufacturers demonstrated high product quality by achieving power degradation of less than 2% for a given test
  • More than 12% of the modules that RETC subjected to simulated wind and environmental stresses achieved less than 1% degradation in power
  • An increase—rather than a decrease—in measured power after LID test exposure
  • Over 38% of modules achieved less than 1.0% degradation through 196 or more hours of PID test exposure.
  • 8% of modules achieved less than 1.0% degradation through 196 or more hours of PID test exposure

“Accredited third-party testing laboratories are foundational to module quality. At its most basic level, manufacturing quality involves conformance to specifications,” commented Daniel Chang, RETC’s Vice President of Business Development. “RETC plays an important role in these efforts by testing products to relevant IEC, UL, or CEC standards. Experience has shown that simply meeting minimum certification requirements does not ensure a quality product for all project stakeholders.”

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