PVEL launches crowdsourced inverter testing programme

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PVEL will crowdsource data from inverter suppliers to help inform buyers’ decision making. Image: SMA Solar Technology.

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) has launched a crowdsourced testing programme that will work with solar investors, developers and asset owners to test inverters and does not require manufacturer participation.

The Inverter Crowd Power Product Qualification Program (PQP) will see testing conducted on commercially purchased inverters and will match the tests PVEL uses in its traditional Inverter PQP, introduced in 2014.

By providing transparent and reliable data to buyers, the crowdsourced system will quantify product performance and reduce buyers’ risk of procuring inverters with limited field deployment, according to PVEL.

Both testing regimes include field-representative safety, reliability, and performance testing under varying environmental and interconnection conditions.

The various testing methods will be used to support datasheet validation for more accurate performance and revenue models; reliability evaluations for improved operation and maintenance (O&M) cost and replacement rate forecast accuracy; and safety assessments for reliable arc and ground fault detection in fielded systems.

“PVEL’s crowdsourced testing gives inverter buyers the opportunity to leverage empirical data over the claims of product marketing materials. Initial feedback from our downstream partners has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Tara Doyle, chief commercial officer of PVEL.

“With or without manufacturer involvement, we will ensure PVEL’s technical insights for deployment of high-quality equipment are available to the solar market.”

PVEL said that while Ginlong Solis and Chint Power Systems have recently submitted their 250+ kW/h inverters for testing, the vast majority of inverter suppliers do not usually engage in independent testing that exceeds certification standards.

The independent testing lab regularly produces module and inverter ‘Top Performer’ rankings via its reliability scorecard. Earlier this year, PV Tech spoke with PVEL’s head of PV module business Tristan Erion-Lorico about junction box failure, testing for the elements and what developers must consider when using the scorecard.

Started in 2010 in California, PVEL operated under DNV from 2014-2019. It became part of the Netherlands-based KIWA group of companies this year.  

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