First Solar puts weight behind PV power plant bankability standards

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Following the collaboration between Conergy and TÜV Rheinland in establishing verifiable procedures to provide the highest possible standards from design through to commissioning of PV power plants in 2012, First Solar and VDE Americas have implemented a similar system.

VDE Americas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of certification body, VDE Institute in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) have developed the ‘VDE Quality Tested’ mark for PV power plants.

First Solar, which has previously collaborated with VDE Americas in quality and reliability testing, is the first to adopt the VDE PV power plant assurance protocols and verification system.

According to VDE, the quality test ensures four key areas for technical bankability and risk reduction for PV power plant operators, investors and financial entities.

• Electrical and mechanical safety of the system.
• System performance through a highly accurate energy yield report.
• Proper system operation
• Independent verification for investors, lenders, insurance companies and other stakeholders by highly competent and reputable independent experts.

John Sedgwick, President of VDE Americas said, “VDE has been engaged with First Solar for many years in the certification of modules and manufacturing processes. We're pleased that First Solar will be leading the industry by implementing our new VDE Quality Tested mark for their PV solar power systems. VDE and our partner Fraunhofer ISE are committed to reducing the technical risk often associated with PV power plant investments. We will continue to work closely with industry players to help raise the standard for the solar sector.”

Azmat Siddiqi, First Solar's Senior Vice President of Quality and Reliability added, “This expanded relationship with VDE documents rigorous quality assurance requirements at the PV plant/system level, and establishes our position as a leader in technical bankability.”

In tandem with the TÜV Rheinland certification reasoning, providing bankability checks on modules and their manufacturers is but one aspect of assurance for PV power plant owners and is not sufficient for investors to rely on one aspect of rigorous third-party inspection for bankability factors.

Efforts in improving the transparency and technical assurance of PV power plants is expected to lead to lower project financing costs and greater interest in PV from financial and investment sectors as safe investment vehicles, enabling easier access to capital and project sell-through. 

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