PV ModuleTech 2019: Q&A with Luca Votta from testing and certification services firm Kiwa

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PV ModuleTech will be returning to Penang, Malaysia on 22-23 October 2019. The agenda sessions and topics at PV ModuleTech 2019 will focus on the key global issues today in terms of module technology, quality, and reliability – specific to large-scale module purchasing decisions over the next 12-18 months.

As an event partner at this year’s PV ModuleTech, PV-Tech took the time to catch up with Luca Votta, International Business Manager Solar & Wind at Kiwa Group to find out what he is looking forward to from this year’s event and what we can expect from Kiwa.

Kiwa provides testing and certification services across a wide range of sectors, including PV Modules and inverters in order to help identify reliable partners and quality products.

Firstly, what is new with Kiwa today, with the changes that have occurred in the industry over the past few months?

Luca Votta: “Solar Market changed a lot in the last 2 years and especially in the last few months. The core business of Kiwa in Solar is relates to TIC services (Testing – Inspection – Certification). Our clients historically are PV Solar Manufacturers and Inverters Manufacturers. Today Kiwa is expanding its services more and more on financial and technical due diligences for Investors, Buyers, Installers through dedicated services directly on-field or directly on the production facilities. Kiwa is well established in Europe with several labs for Solar, out main target now is to expand ourselves in SE Asia and North America.”

At what point in the project development is Kiwa typically brought in?

“Normally at the beginning of the project. The scope of work is defined together with manufacturers (in the case of TIC services) or with buyers and Investors (before the deal between the buyer and the final provider of the PV modules/Inverters/Batteries)”

What issues are people concerned about at the moment specifically for testing and inspections? Do you see any trends in the types of questions people are asking about their projects or products?

“Most of the trends are related to bankability items. Investors would like to buy good products from reliable partners. Stakeholders ask for dedicated services in order to ensure the quality of the goods. 

Moreover, we see a trend in the production processes as well, where the necessity to increase the efficiency of the products keeping the final price competitive, led companies to create innovative products (prototypes). Today we are testing a lot of patented prototypes, that can create a real market innovation, particularly in the field of photovoltaic modules. One of the topics I would like to present at the next PV Module Tech in Penang is an R&D case of study of one of these prototypes we have tested in our Kiwa facilities.”

In your opinion, what is the most important question that an investor should be asking both before and after the build process?

“In recent years there have been many companies in the solar market that have gone bankrupt because of insolvency. Especially with regard to component manufacturers. The main problem in my opinion is the long-term reliability of the products. 

Is the product I'm buying reliable? What can I do to increase the confidence level I have in the supplier? Will I be able to claim my guarantee in the coming years?”

As one of our partners at PV ModuleTech 2019 what will you be talking about during your presentation and what do you hope will be the key takeaways?

SE Asia market is not completely aware about Kiwa and the solar services Kiwa can offer to the main stakeholders. The main intention for us at the next PV Module Tech is to present, on one hand, our global portfolio of services for the Primary and the Secondary solar market. But I do not want to boring the audience too much, so my idea is to show why Kiwa is different respect the other Notified Bodies, which is our plus. We are reliable, fast and quite cheap, but most of all we work really close with the customers with the intention to support them in the development of their business. For this reason, as mentioned above, one of the topics I would like to present at the next PV Module Tech in Penang is an R&D very successful case of study we have worked on in the last 2 years.

 

PV ModuleTech will be returning to Penang, Malaysia on 22-23 October 2019.

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