PVEL Issues New PV Module Rankings Based on Independent Test Results
The 2020 PV Module Reliability Scorecard highlights major advancements in PV module technology while noting safety and performance failures. PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), the leading independent test lab for the global downstream solar industry published the 6th Edition of its PV Module Reliability Scorecard in partnership with DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent experts and certification body. The report reveals eight new Top Performers compared to the 2019 Scorecard. However, it also shows that some manufacturers overlooked minimum safety and quality controls in the rush to bring innovative PV cell and module technologies to market. “A diverse array of PV technologies has upended conventional R&D timelines to achieve rapid commercialization, leading PVEL to test more cell and module combinations for our 2020 Scorecard than at any point in our ten-year history,” said Tara Doyle, Chief Commercial Officer of PVEL.
“Developers and investors need independent, reliable data to balance the reliability risks inherent to new products against the promise of higher-performing, more lucrative projects.” PVEL’s annual scorecard ranks commercially available PV modules based on results from PVEL’s PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP), a comprehensive sequence of performance and extended reliability tests that approximate the impact of decades of field exposure on PV modules. The PQP provides empirical data for PV module supplier evaluations and project-level energy yield and financial models. Several concerning trends emerged in the 2020 Scorecard: 20% of BOMs failed at least one test. Safety issues: 12% of BOMs tested failed the wet leakage test protocol required for IEC 61215 certification. 100% of PV modules tested by PVEL received this certification and thus should have passed this PQP characterization step. Poor potential-induced degradation (PID) results: PVEL observed its highest recorded median degradation rate for PID, a preventable failure mode that is regularly described as “solved.” Results indicate that baseline anti-PID module design procedures were not followed by all PQP participants.
The 2020 Scorecard includes first-of-their-kind Top Performer designations for modeled performance. The rankings are based on energy yield models built using PVEL-measured PAN files for PVsyst modeling software. Bifacial PV modules exhibited the strongest results in this new Top Performer category. Participation in PVEL’s PQP is voluntary for manufacturers and only top-performing module models are ranked in the Scorecard. Since PVEL launched its PV Module PQP in 2012, it has tested over 360 bills of material (BOMs) from more than 50 module manufacturers. The 2020 PV Module Reliability Scorecard is available as a free download at www.pvel.com/pv-scorecard.
Follow us on Youtube and please give us a thumbs up. Contact Tim Montague, host and creator of Solar Works for Illinois (www.CESnrg.com/podcast) is the podcast from Continental Energy Solutions produced and hosted by Tim Montague, Solar Expert, NABCEP PV Technical Sales Professional. Continental is the largest commercial & industrial solar installer in Illinois with over 100 projects and 40 MW of rooftop, ground mount and utility scale solar installations as of Q1 2020. Solar Works for Illinois is the place where solar project owners, solar developers, policy experts, and industry analysts discuss and help you understand the Illinois solar market in the context of the US and Midwest solar markets. We discuss rooftop solar, how solar works for your facility, legislation and incentives like FEJA (Future Energy Jobs Act), Path to 100, Clean Energy Jobs Act, SRECs, community solar, and utility scale solar. Solar works for Illinois is produced by Tim Montague, Solar Expert at Continental Electrical. Please like, comment and subscribe to our channel. Thank you for watching! Please post comments and suggestion for future shows on the channel or contact Tim Montague at 217.722.0429 m | firstname.lastname@example.org
about their 2020 PV Module Reliability Scorecard. The 6th Edition of the PV Module Reliability Scorecard is now available for download. Our Scorecards are the most comprehensive PV module benchmarking reports available to the public. www.pvel.com —- —-
—— Full Transcript of Interview with Tristan Erion-Lorico —–
Today the 20/20 solar module reliability scorecard bankability testing for the solar industry welcome to solar works for Illinois I’m Tim Montague your host today my guest is Tristan Erion-Lorico, Head of PV module business at PV Evolution Labs known in the industry as PVEL. Welcome to the show Tristan! thanks Tim happy to be here so excited to dive into module quality and reliability you know I like to say that Solar is very mature technology it is you know it has been around for 70 years now and so these panels really are tried and true in so many ways and the failure rates are generally very low but all modules are not created equal and PBL has created this very robust testing and reliability program which we’re gonna dive into today but why don’t we start off our listeners Kristin and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be Belle sure thanks Tim so I’ve been in the solar electrical industry for about 15 years I started in electrical manufacturing and then moved into solar manufacturing really wanted to get into renewables and through through my manufacturing experience what was the product and quality manager at so fab solar for a number of years where I was responsible for their new products and of course you know ensuring the reliability of those products fell on to my desk and worked with PV evolution labs at that time for their third-party reliability testing after I left Silfab I worked in the downstream doing own procurement for some sites throughout the Americas and also into Asia and also helping with procurement at two different independent power producers and really learned about you know the process of procuring products and why reliability is so important so I had seen both the upstream side from the manufacturer side of things and the downstream side from the purchasing side of things and when this opportunity opened that p Val they it was perfect for me and and that’s how I I came on board in give us a high level what is the module reliability scorecard so it’s a publicly facing document that PVEL puts out every year we we just released our sixth edition in in 2020 a couple weeks ago and it’s really to show the industry what are some of the field failures happening out there what are the in lab failures how do those those two things connect and and show why we’re doing the testing we’re doing how it benefits the industry and of course who the top performing models are and manufacturers associated with those models indeed so who are your primary target audiences so we’re the the in the lab for the downstream so we’ve been around since 2010 and we were really started to provide the downstream with empirical data to replace assumptions that are made on reliability and on performance so our our main target audience is is the downstream module purchasers now at the same time you know we want to educate the market we we make the scorecard accessible you know we have lots of non-technical people read it to try to make the language as as accessible as possible so that you know bankers who are not deeply familiar with module technology but are putting a lot of money on the line they can they can read it and understand why our testing is important and and they can get the key takeaways from from the report I would say secondary it’s also for the manufacturers so that they can benchmark performance to what we’re seeing in the industry so true and you know I see the I see a tremendous need for both sides of this coin and just a general better awareness in the industry at large for module quality and reliability there have been quality reliability problems I’m going to be doing a podcast on solar fires for example and so while solar is largely set it and forget it and if you’re doing proper annual maintenance you know you really don’t have to worry too much about your solar array but there’s nothing like that third-party verification of quality and reliability so we’re gonna get into some of the guts of what that’s about and and what all you guys test for how did how did this scorecard come about anyway so we started we started our main product qualification program or pqp back in 2012 and that’s this the testing program that goes behind the scorecard and is really the data for the scorecard is pulled from the pqp so that was started in 2012 and we were getting all of this excellent data that we wanted to share with the broader industries so we had our what we called downstream partners who are companies that have signed an NDA and signed up to access the pqp reports there’s no charge for that for for the downstream and you know independent engineers are signed up and financed years developers asset owners own em companies etc etc so they were accessing all of this great data on module reliability but we realized that we needed to have something that was more publicly facing so that we could reach more people and get them to understand that that empirical data is available a and and B that there are manufacturers that are are outpacing their competition in reliability test results so so the scorecard was launched in 2014 and it’s become an annual publication since then wonderful so I understand the primary audience is the downstream that’s installers like ourselves developers asset owners anybody who has a long-term interest in solar project reliability and performance but how do manufacturers engage in the program so typically how it works is the downstream as part of their approved vendor list requirements or as part of their request for Proposal requirements they they require PVEL PQP testing and and manufacturers hear that message from the downstream it’s it’s one thing for me as the head of mantra business to start cold calling manufacturers and saying hey you should sign up for our testing program which sometimes works but frankly it’s another thing for the downstream to say I need this data I need this data to understand your module performance and your module reliability better and I’m not going to purchase modules without this data so please contact P Val and get signed up for the product qualification program and and then I’ll have the data I need to feel comfortable making purchases for your modules that you’re trying to sell me so that’s really what what instigates it and then the manufacturers will contact us contact me specifically and I’ll work with them to understand their bill of materials which are all of the different materials that go into their modules so the cells the glass the anti-reflective coating right down to you know what connectors they’re using what junction box patents they’re using all of the different materials in the module and I’ll I’ll determine the test program required for those various villa materials combinations and and from there it’s it turns into a proposal once we understand how much the Bill of Materials changes and and then they sign it and the next step is we go to the factory and we actually do a factory witness and watch the samples being made that get shipped to pee valve for testing so we have a third party that goes in and verifies what patents being used verifies the encapsulants the solar cells etc and and that becomes the first report of the pqp we call it the the witness report and it lists that that bill of materials so that’s kind of the first few steps in in the pqp that then then the samples get shipped to us and and we start testing them they’re sealed in a tamper proof tape on the pallet and and each module is signed so when we do our our incoming inspection of these these modules arriving at the lab we make sure that they haven’t been tampered with so that you know someone hasn’t replaced the samples with a higher performing back sheet if you will while calling it a cheaper back sheet so to speak yeah that kind of brings up the evolution of technology right because there’s while it is mature technology it’s also a fast evolving technology the the solar cells themselves are evolving we now see half cut and third cut cells coming on the market in in really high quantities yeah and and of course energy density is going up the back sheet technology glass on glass by facial modules there’s there’s a lot of moving parts how do you how do you guys keep up with the industry is it just a matter of forever engages then you’re staying on top of their technology or how do you how do you keep up with evolution over the technology yeah certainly you know it’s my job when I see a manufacturer releases a new module type I’m I’m getting on the phone I’m hitting them up typically on WeChat cuz a lot of them are in are in China and that’s their preferred communication method but I’m contacting them and saying hey we gotta get these modules in the lab that the downstream is gonna want to see the data on these modules but again it the real motivator for them is when module purchasers say hey this new technology is great I like what you’re doing here but I can’t purchase it without the empirical P Bell data and and you know they’ve in some cases learn the hard way when they they don’t take that that firm stance and they purchased something that it experiences more failures than than what they anticipated in their their financial models so you know it’s a combination of us being proactive and and encouraging the manufacturers to test and also the downstream doing the same but I agree the the number of bills and materials and not just those materials but module types cell sizes you know we we had a project with a company where they had their one fifty six point seven five millimeter cell then they went to one fifty eight point seven five millimeter then they went to half cut at that one fifty eight now they’re asking me for proposals for one sixty six millimeter and one eighty millimeter and that’s all in the last six months like they’re you know it’s such a moving target they don’t even know what they’re gonna be selling in in a year and and I doubt they’ve even started producing with some of those cell sizes because they have to change their their whole manufacturing lines over so they don’t even understand the reliability of these new products but there’s such a lot Peaks arms-race as I like to call it that if if now you’re selling a 380 watt module with which a few years ago would have been phenomenal now it’s like three hundred and eighty watts I want to buy five hundred watt plus like what what are you doing here so you know everyone’s just racing to to have the latest and greatest and they need they need data to support it so true about the module size and after you and I had spoken last week I did a little inquiry with one of the major manufacturers and you know they’re they’re coming out with 450 watt modules in in 2021 and they’re over seven feet long so the physical dimensions are getting bigger as well so at a very high level though what is the testing involved what are you guys doing with these modules that you’re testing yes so we have a number of up tests a lot of them are based on climate chamber tests things such as thermal cycling where you’re going from minus 40 degrees Celsius up to plus 85 degrees Celsius and that happens over a two-hour period and we do that 600 times from minus forty five up to eighty down to minus forty five the certification standard for that is two hundred cycles we go to 600 cycles there’s another test damp heat where it’s 85 degrees at 85% humidity we do it for 2,000 hours certification is only a thousand hours and as we’ve shown in the scorecard you know there’s modules that perform great add a thousand hours but then kind of fall off a cliff after 2,000 hours there’s there’s a mechanical stress sequence where we’re we’re providing mechanical pressure on the module and then putting it through climate chamber tests after to see if their cell cracking and if that’s cell cracking it leads to eventual power loss lots of other failure modes were looking at as well you know back she cracks potential induced degradation I believe there’s nine different tests and then on the performance side included in those nine is is looking at how the module performs at different temperatures different irradiance ha’s and different Sun angles to really have have good data go into your energy model so you’re not just making assumptions you’ve got lab based data to show how these modules perform cool and and the report card itself or the scorecard sorry is pretty much an executive summary right there’s a whole bunch of stuff behind that tell us about that yeah yes so the scorecard really culminates the the previous 18 months of results into this publicly available document and we name the top performers for the various tests that that we publish in the scorecard but for each of those you know names in the scorecard there’s multiple test reports P Q P test reports that that show specific performance for the that model type and specifically that bill of materials so if one of these large manufacturers say you know here’s the different encapsulants I’m using here’s the back sheets here’s the cells etc etc you know that it’s been up to like a 20 bomb or 20 different BOM material combination project and then you know some of that data for the top performers gets put into the scorecard other data where you know they submitted bombs that didn’t do as well and we’ve certainly seen where you know a small change in material can impact performance those aren’t in the scorecard but we we have access to all of those reports and I should say the downstream has access to all of those reports when signing up to be to be a p-value partner they can they can access that data and and know you know what’s going on behind the scenes and get the full picture where the the scorecard is just kind of the tip of the iceberg to to show you know here’s some of our data and here’s what you can learn when you when you sign up for for access to to the full picture okay why why should solar developers project developers asset owners and others other solar professionals dive deeper into module reliability well it’s something I’m clearly passionate about that’s not the reason but I could talk about the reasons for quite some time so you know I I think the main reason is because lots of money is being invested in these sites whether you know it’s a homeowner investing money to for something that they put on the rooftop and that’s that could be a big purchase to them or a C&I company trying to offset some of their energy by by putting modules on on their commercial rooftop or you know on the extreme you know utility scale sites it’s it’s hundreds of millions of dollars being invested everyone’s expecting that the modules perform as as advertised and as expected and we’ve seen lots of field cases you know one of prevailed services is is working in the field and helping to diagnose under performance issues we’ve seen lots of issues now you know I don’t want to be a naysayer I believe strongly in the solar industry and I think solar is is the future and you know I I don’t want to say every module installed is a ticking time bomb so to speak but you know in in some cases there there are field issues and as you said you’re doing this this webinar on on fires you know these are things that can happen and if you just read the manufacturers data sheets and and they’re there you know sales presentations it looks like everything’s fine but but we provide this this third-party glimpse and and third-party insight into the module performance and and I think anyone investing in module technology should consult this data when when making their purchasing decisions you know one of the the best-known summaries of module quality is the Tier one list published by Bloomberg what what is what is the relationship between the tier 1 list and the scorecard yes so the tier 1 list is actually you know it’s kind of a misnomer it’s it’s not above module quality it’s about bankability loosely so basically to be on the tier 1 list manufacturers have to submit data to Bloomberg nef to show that 6 different banks invested in their projects using their modules with non-recourse financing and each project has to be 1 point 5 megawatts or larger it doesn’t talk about the you know financial fitness if you will or the financial stability of of manufacturers it really relies if those six banks did their jobs then than other banks are going to invest in in the that manufacturers technology so it doesn’t look at you know third party audits it doesn’t use reliability data etc it’s really did six banks invest in this and if they did then maybe you would consider investing in them as well so we have a partnership with Bloomberg nef we’re on the Tier one lists there’s a little asterisk beside the manufacturers who do P value P testing and it was a way to make the Tier one list a little bit more focused on module quality and reliability so if you look at the Tier one list and you see that that asterisk that means that PVEL has test reports on on that manufacturers products that are relatively recent they would have had to do the factory witness for the P Q P within the last 18 months to get that okay cool that that explains a lot and yeah I think it’s I think it’s poorly understood in the industry exactly what Tier one means it is definitely a stamp of approval but it doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot about the quality of the product then does it no no not at all I mean we we talked to lots of people in the downstream and they say I don’t need P valves testing I buy Tier one and it takes some time to try to try to show them why that’s perhaps not the best strategy you know there’s other strategies where well it comes with a 25 or 30 year warranty I’m fine and you know we highlight in the scorecard why that why warranties cannot be relied upon as much as some people think they can or it was tested its certified I’m okay again in the scorecard we highlight why certification testing doesn’t go to enough on the tier one topic we do have a great case study from Helio lytx who do thermal flyovers of module sites and basically they can see module defects based on hot spots and and other issues and and they showed basically a bar chart showing which module manufacturers have the most of this specific defect and which of those are Tier one and which aren’t and of the worst offenders the top ten four of those manufacturers are Tier one so it just goes to show that you know Tier one does not necessarily equal quality or or reliability you really have to dig deeper indeed so let’s let’s dive into this a little greater depth describe for us the pqp the product qualification program yes so it’s basically you know doing that the whole program is not just a test plan there are certainly other test plans in the industry but we we have this program where we provide data to the downstream the downstream requests the manufacturers for for that data for that testing you know it includes a factory witness we have manufacturers who say oh I’ll just ship us some samples you don’t need to factory witness well it’s not called a pqp if if we don’t do the factory with this so you know it’s it’s providing data to the downstream we have a portal where they can log in and see those reports and another key aspect is that we evolve it every every year we we add new tests or new characterizations you know based on our conversations with research institutes and manufacturers and the downstream developers you know asking what are they worried about they were pushing us for last year on fact she cracks they were really concerned about that there’s there’s gigawatts of modules in the field with with vac she cracks right now so we developed our back she’d durability sequence and last year we added it to the pqp so it’s really getting that feedback from the industry and seeing what do they need to to de-risk their purchases and that’s what goes into to the pqp as opposed to we’re just doing certification testing x 2 or x 3 duration and we provide the reports and that’s that you know that’s what other labs do we we look far more holistically at what does the industry actually need to feel comfortable making the purchases that they are yeah you know we have 13 gigawatts approximately of solar being installed every year in the United States alone and many times that of course globally and that equates to millions and millions of solar panels and so I guess that is something I’m curious about I understand your you’re you know you’re basically mimicking field conditions by doing some accelerated aging testing you know cycling through various temperature regimes or moisture regimes in an accelerated fashion is is there is there a correlation between that testing and then what we see for actual long term field performance yes certainly and and there’s lots of research they that goes behind the test durations we’ve we’ve chosen and we work with the industry to determine you know what what tests are necessary so we’re really you know trying to tie what we see in the field for failures with what’s happening in in the field so for example you know I talked earlier about Dan p2000 we historically we were doing Dan Pete 3000 testing and even before that we’ve seen people pushing that – Dan peed 4000 and damn peed 5,000 but what we saw is that the failures that were happening after Dan Pete 3000 were were not happening in the field and so what you had is module manufacturers and even deeper than that the component manufacturers just designing their material to pass a test rather than to pass the field performance and you know in some cases they’re over engineering it to pass a test where those failures weren’t actually happening in the field so we work with our industry partners to ensure that the tests that we’re doing are representative you know we don’t want to under test and we certainly don’t want to over test and and that’s why we’re we’re tweaking the pqp every year making sure that you know we’re in the sweet spot getting the data that the industry needs well not providing you know erroneous data or data that does not tie in well with field failures when I think of long-term field testing I think of NREL the National Renewable Energy Laboratory do you have collaborations at all with them yeah yeah yes certainly I know I know a number of their their researchers you know 20 he mailed me on on Friday asking me to put together a letter on some of the issues that we’re seeing in one of our tests she wanted that to to be tacked on to a report that they’re releasing about this issue and and so yeah we’re we’re in contact with them another another strong body and in module and cell researches to the University of New South Wales down in Australia and and we talked to them quite a bit there’s also research institutes in in Europe that that we speak to you know they loved that they get access to our data anonymously so that they can see the trends and it helps them with their research and you know their interpretation of our data helps us with our understanding so so we’ve got some great partnerships throughout the industry so I understand that it’s it’s free for downstream right for basically the end users of the program like ourselves installers developers yeah what do what do manufacturers pay besides presumably donating some product is there other other fees that the manufacturers pay to participate yeah yes so the manufacturers pay for the testing that you know it depends on how many bill materials they’re testing how many module types you can appreciate that you know sticking a module in a chamber for 2,000 hours that’s 84 days at 85% humidity and 85 degrees there’s definitely cost related to that and and it’s the manufacturers that that cover that expense and and so they pay knowing that you know it helps unlock business for them by providing these third-party reports to to the downstream and by participating in the scorecard so it’s it’s just like them paying for you know their standard ul or IEC certification this P VP QP is another business expense for them and they they understand that the the industry needs this data great you mentioned back sheet failure and I’m just looking at one of the tables here on different failure modes there’s glass breakage there’s unsealing of the junction box which is a little box on the back of the module where the wires come out of the module there’s PID there’s diode failure there’s busbar corrosion and delamination of all of these things what if you’re a solar developer what do you what are you losing sleep about do you see some points of failure being a more of a problem than others or is it just a across the board interesting question I you know I I would say it’s across the board I think you know if I was buying modules I guess it depends on what I’m developing but if I was doing say rooftop development I’d be quite concerned at safety related failures you know we’ve seen in in our testing in the last 18 months that one in five module manufacturers have junction box related failures and you know as you said it’s just a box on the back of the module where the wires come out but it’s also operating at in most cases 200 volts DC and if there’s a failure there that leads to an electrical arcing that can certainly start a fire and and that’s what I would be concerned about if I was a banker or you know putting tens or hundreds of million-dollar millions of dollars on the line you know out in the middle of a field maybe I’m less concerned about a safety risk even though of course that would be concerning but you know the the degradation of modules and and having a module suffer something like PID on my site they could lower the output by ten percent or more you know that that has real implications to the profitability of my project so I would probably be losing sleep about about module degradation perhaps more so than safety failures so you know I guess that was a long-winded thing to say that that all of it is is not good and it should be concerning although certainly there are ways to to mitigate those risks and and that’s what PBL is providing to the industry yeah risk mitigation is front and center here and you can do that on the front end you can do it during construction by having high quality construction high quality installers and then you can do it post installation by doing regular onm and that’s a growing field we have an ONM division now at Continental doing an annual checkup for example where you you tests you know for is all the wiring sound is is all the insulation on the wiring sound are the modules performing the way they should be and so forth and so on you’re much more likely to nip a problem in the bud if you do that annual maintenance so that’s a big take home for for anyone who’s got a vested interest in the solar array whether you’re the owner or just the host so what about trends and I love this I love the the summary table that shows over the years how different manufacturers are performing but you know we mentioned at the in the sorry early on in the podcast we mentioned that this technology is changing rapidly and so the testing protocols are changing but what are what are some trends you see over time and and how do we think about that yes so we we try to highlight in that in the scorecard for the or reliability tests that we highlight the the top performers of we show what the results were for the 2020 scorecard data set as and compare that to the results for the historical data set and you can see in some cases the performance is getting better in for example in thermal cycling in in some cases it’s getting worse so one of the trends we found was that our potential induced degradation or PID degradation this year or power loss was the median power loss for the 2020 data set was higher than it’s being in the history of Pivo so in the past 10 years it was the median result was higher this year than them before now we’re not seeing you know huge amounts of degradation like 30% from PID which we saw years ago but the fact that you know that median degradation is increasing shows that the PID is not a solved issue and and when we talked to manufacturers and show them the reports and say hey you had a PID you know degradation of 5% they’re normally shot like they they think that the products they’re manufacturing our PID resistant and and they’re surprised to hear that’s not the case some of the other trends you know we still see a high percentage of failures about 20 scent of the Bills of material we tested had at least one failure also in the scorecard we teamed up with DNV GL who is a technical advisory company who is actually the owner of P valper for a number of years and then 2019 there was a module by out and we went or not on true about how to manufacture by G’s a management by oh there’s the word and we went we went independent but anyway DMV GL assessed our our historical data and they have a case study in the scorecard showing some of those trends and and how thermal cycling for example has improved over the years and pretty much plateaued for the last couple of years versus say damn peat which those damn peak results have been getting worse over the last few years so we really try to show how how the historical data is changing within the scorecard cool yeah PID is not something that we hear a lot about but maybe that’s just innate the nature of the Illinois market being so such a greenfield and and I have noticed that the manufacturers are saying on their on their cell sheets or cut sheets that they are their products our PID resistant but the proof is in the pudding so yeah you know we certainly see that is the case for sub manufacturers and and what the claims on their datasheet match what our test results show but not for everyone so so having that third-party data is is important so on screen now I’ve got the historical scorecard page of the report open and you can get the report just by going to PBE Elcom and there’s a little notification right at the top that’ll ask you to download and then you hand over your credentials and and you’ll get a free copy of the report but what are we looking at here this is a I think this is a wonderful snapshot if you’re curious about you know the big picture who are the who are the leaders of the pack so to speak and and you have a qualification called top performers who are that what is the top performer so yeah the top performer is historically at least for the last three years they were manufacturers where their models on average the model submitted for testing had less than 2% degradation after these extended reliability tests and there’s four tests that we highlight the thermal cycling damp eat PID and another test called the dynamic mechanical loading sequence where is is one of the things I talked about earlier we we dynamically load like physically load the module with with different pressure and then put it through climate chamber testing to see if there’s there’s micro cracking so those the manufacturers that had a model type that were had less than 2% degradation in one or more of those tests were listed in the scorecard as a topper performer so the page that you had up shows that the 20 20 top performers and what their history is in the previous scorecards so you could see you know have they’ve shown through scorecard and pqp testing a long consistent performance in in reliability or you know some manufacturers they’re they’re new to the program and and it just shows you know in the case of let’s say synergy California at the at the bottom there you know this was their first time as as a top performer so we’re just trying to show how how long these different manufacturers have been have been published in the scorecards and just cuz somebody didn’t score like in 2014 they could it could be that they just didn’t participate in the program right yes certainly they maybe they participated and they they had poor results maybe they participated and they had good results but for whatever reason they didn’t opt-in to be in the scorecard it is definitely up to them if they want to be listed or not or maybe we didn’t test them at all so you know we we don’t really publicly state what those those are but certainly to our downstream partners who have access to our list of reports and the data they can get a better sense of you know what the history is for those different manufacturers gotcha and then there are some categories of failures we talked a little bit about this but you you break failures into safety visual inspection and power degradation kind of categories right yeah um and so let’s let’s just walk through all three of those safety means when it’s installed on your roof or on your ground right is there some potential safety hazard for the facility or the people working around the facility yeah yes so safety we use the certification test the main certification testing standard is IEC six one two one five so within that there’s a test called wet leakage testing and that’s basically putting the module in a conductive solution you know water that’s that’s had a higher level of conductivity than the normal tap water if you will so we put the module in that we can submerse the parts of the module that are meant to be submersed the other parts get just wet with the solution and then we we put a high voltage on the module and we tried see if there’s any leakage current from the conductors basically the parts of the module that should be electrically conducting versus the parts that should be grounded such as the the frame so there will be a trip if if there’s a leakage of current between the active conductors to to the brain and that would be considered a failure so that’s really the main safety test and it shows you know was there any breakdown in the modules electrical insulation during the course of these you know extremely difficult or extremely rigorous stress tests on the other other hand there’s also visual inspection and again that uses the criteria in that IEC standard to see you know where their bubbles in in the encapsulants or some yellowing or you know degradation of the encapsulants you know basically was there any major manufacturing defects and and we do a visual inspection throughout testing to see you know how has the module has the module changed sometimes we see burn marks or corrosion things of that nature would be considered a visual failure and then the last category is power degradation and we don’t assign a pass/fail threshold but what we do is share the results with the manufacturers and if if they are you know upset with the amount of degradation they see coming from PID testing or thermal cycling or some of these other tests they can trigger a retest so when we do the factory witness we take additional spares as samples and they can say well I’m I’m not happy with that PID result let’s let’s do another round of that testing using the spares and and that would be considered a power degradation failure because they didn’t accept the results you know it’s not up to P Val to say here’s what is acceptable and here’s what what isn’t but if they don’t accept the results then then we classify that as a failure and and in the test reports we will document any time there is a retest so that there’s transparency with the downstream and and they can see that that was the case great and so as we wrap up here let’s talk about steps that installers developers and asset owners can take to mitigate revenue risk and you give a nice synopsis of this on page 36 for anybody who’s interested in looking at the report what are the five steps to mitigate risk yes so the first is conducting factory audits where you know mainly utility-scale developers and and banks will require these factory audits where a third party goes in and audits the facility and make sure that they’re manufacturing following best practices so you know I’ve I’ve been subjected to this when I was in module manufacturing and it could be a couple engineers visiting the plant for a few days and basically doing a very deep level audit of the manufacturing processes all the way from incoming inspection to operator training etc etc and and you know making sure you’re doing the job correctly number two would be reviewing pee valves pqp reports and using our data to to choose the bill of materials and and basically saying you know understanding at a deeper level what materials are being used and which performed well and and you know specifying those which really brings us to the third step which is specifying those those materials so we provide that to the downstream in filling material exhibits they can be added to a purchasing contract to say you know instead of buying a certain module type from a manufacturer you’re you’re buying a Villa material you know you’re not allowing the manufacturer to just change out the cells we shown the scorecard how changing cells can result in different amounts of degradation basically you’re buying a specific bill and material then to go with specifying the bill material confirming that product quality during production is important so for large-scale developers they have the third-party witnesses happen during production so they want to make sure that the bill of material they specify is actually what’s being produced and then they’re also looking at you know any audit findings were were addressed and they’re doing open box audits and making sure that the montreux is being produced our are of the highest quality or at least the quality that they they’re expecting and that they specified along with with that step we also do batch testing to make sure you know at our lab we do flash testing and also you know reliability testing of modules that were destined for the specific project they get reroute it to us and and we can provide that data to show manufacturing consistency which you know we work with some of these projects are huge it’s 500 megawatts if you will they’re being produced over over months and the developers want to understand how that performance is how how the consistency is for reliability and performance and and that’s what our batch testing is and finally verifying the performance after installation so PVEL offers different field services as I was mentioning earlier two of the the most popular our capacity testing where we’ll come with our lab equipment and verify that the site is performing as expected using our our tools for analyzing that and the other one is field al or electroluminescence which is basically an x-ray of the modules and you can see if there’s any micro backing or inactive areas what have you and you know the that’s becoming more and more important for baseline health of the site and then if you’re I’m not sure about extreme weather in Illinois but certainly south of there there’s there’s lots of hail storms and tornadoes and and such that are wreaking havoc on on some sites and with baseline al you can show the insurance company you know here’s my evidence of how the site was was built and the module quality from a micro cracking and cell cracking perspective and you know anything worse than that becomes a an insurance claim so I know that was a lot to take in but but certainly we spell it all out in in the scorecard and and we’re here you know some of those services are complementary and I will just add that you know even if you’re just a small installer you know it’s probably not feasible to send a third party into the factory you’re not making module purchasers that purchases that are that are that large to justify that expense you know but the data is still available to everyone in the industry and and you know we don’t we don’t discriminate with who gets access to to the the pqp data if you’re a module purchaser or a downstream module stakeholder you can access that data and and inform yourself when making purchasing decisions wonderful well we’re almost out of time Tristan is there anything else you’d like our listeners to know about PBL or your services you know I think we’ve pretty much covered it we we detail it on our website PVEL.com you can you can get in touch with me there or or you know info at PVEL.com if it’s a module inquiry that will get routed to my inbox and you know we’re here to help I guess one thing that I’ll say is that a lot of what we do is complementary you know we get questions from the downstream all the time it’s it’s a can be a confusing industry and whether they’re dealing with site under performance issues or or procurement questions or they you know they saw some some reports and they have questions you know our lines are open and and we love talking to the downstream and we love supporting the downstream so don’t feel like you know you might have worked with other consultants agencies and as soon as you ask them a question they you start the tab starts running for how much you owe them that’s not how people works if if you have any sort of questions about solar please contact us and I guess I should also mention we we do offer peak ups for inverters and we’ve published an inverter scorecard as well as energy storage which is as you as you know becoming huge and there’s lots of risks for you know inverter technology and energy storage technology and so we’re we’re offering peak UPS for those as well and we encourage you to review those reports and become educated on on which products are performing well and and which might not be great well that gives us two more episodes at least to do with PBL so let’s continue that conversation about inverters and battery storage systems we’re out of time but that was the 2020 solar module reliability scorecard by PBL and I want to thank my guests Tristan area and Laurie CO please do give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our YouTube channel tell your friends about solar works for Illinois and most of all let’s grow solar I’m Tim Montague your host have a great day.