PV Evolution Labs crowdsources solar inverter testing

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Investors, developers, and asset owners with commercially procured solar inverters may collaborate with PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) on its Crowd Power Product Qualification Program (PQP).

The program, which does not require manufacturer participation, conducts tests on inverters to develop data that can help mitigate technology risks and quantify product performance.

“Third-party data for inverters is notoriously difficult to obtain from manufacturers,” said C.J. Colavito, VP of engineering at Standard Solar. The Crowd Power PQP is intended to address this data access issue.

The tests largely mirror PVEL’s inverter PQP, which was introduced in 2014. Both programs include safety, reliability, and performance testing under varying environmental and interconnection conditions.

(Read: “How long do residential solar inverters last?”)

As designed, the PQP will generate data sheet validation for what PVEL said would be more accurate performance and revenue models, reliability evaluations for improved operations and maintenance cost and replacement rate forecast accuracy. It will also provide safety assessments for arc and ground fault detection.

The crowdsourced testing is intended to offer inverter buyers an opportunity to leverage empirical data over the claims of product marketing materials, said PVEL. Ginlong Solis and Chint Power Systems recently submitted 250+ kWh inverters for the traditional PQP, but PVEL said most inverter suppliers do not engage in independent testing that exceeds certification standards.

By contrast, solar module manufacturers more readily take part in PVEL’s PQP. Since 2012, some 50 panel makers have tested their panels with PVEL. Around 25 undergo frequent periodic testing. PVEL said module reliability has improved since the PQP launch. It said that its thermal cycling test has shown an average degradation rate reduction of 70% over that time.

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