VDE, the parent company of VDE Americas, has acquired a 70% stake in Renewable Energy Test Center (RETC), a certification and testing company that has become a leading independent lab for testing photovoltaic and battery products.
This acquisition serves as an extension of the partnership that RETC and VDE have had for the better part of a decade now, according to RETC President and CEO, Cherif Kedir. He also told pv magazine that, while his company has had other partnership and evolution opportunities in the past, they are a testing and certification lab at heart, and maintaining the independence they were founded upon was a paramount concern.
“The difference now is that we have access to the entire VDE infrastructure and experts worldwide,” Kadir said. “Any sort of expansion or growth, these things take time. With VDE now, we have immediate access to facilities, expertise, and infrastructure that existed for years. There is a lot of potential for us.”
From VDE’s perspective, the acquisition of RETC aligned well with the company’s global testing strategy, specifically in developing a network of testing facilities across the planet.
Kedir and Sedgwick both stressed the importance that RETC’s independence as a testing and certification lab plays in their future collaboration. In short, the acquisition presents an expansion of opportunities and capabilities for RETC, with access to more resources, funding and experienced personnel, while RETC brings to VDE a proven-quality track record in testing and data collection for solar and energy storage systems.
By keeping RETC’s work entirely free from any influence or pressure from VDE or any other body, the results of their testing are unbiased and reliable, and thus more valuable to project developers and investors, said RETC.
“The whole transaction was, it’s such a cliche to say, but, amazingly synergistic,” said President of VDE Americas, John Sedgwick.
According to both Kedir and Sedgwick, a big value draw that RETC brought to VDE was RETC’s Photovoltaic Module Index (PVMI). The service is an entirely independent module ranking system that scores modules based on an exhaustive list of credentials, from performance in damp heat, to performance in thermal cycling sequences, to hail and other extreme weather resilience. The index is structured in such a way that shows off what each module excels at.
In 2020, only five modules of the more than 300 that RETC tested achieved the company’s high performer designation, Kadir told pv magazine. The high-performer distinction requires a module to perform at an elite level in every applicable testing metric. The index also has granular data about which modules are top-performers in specific environments with specific project needs.
VDE has already relied on RETC’s PVMI in providing comprehensive assessments of real-hail risk for projects in areas subject to frequent and damaging hail. On their own, VDE developed a financial loss model that assesses historical weather trends in affected locations to estimate and project loss risks at specific return intervals, like risk over 10-, 20-, or 30-year project lifetimes.
By supplementing this model with the PVMI’s hail index, VDE can present to investors and developers a comprehensive risk outline of their investment, with estimated costs and independently-backed performance ratings of their intended hardware.
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