UL warns of counterfeit certification marks on PV panels

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

Counterfeit safety markings have been found on modules from Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP), according to independent global certification company Underwriters Laboratory (UL). 

The panels bear counterfeit UL marks for the United States and Canada. UL said in a statement that the panels had not been evaluated by UL to its normal safety standards and that it was unknown whether the panels comply with UL's safety requirements. 

The three ASP models in question are: AP-240PK, AP-245MK and ASP-390M.

UL said US-based SunWorks Solar was one distributor of possibly many known to be selling modules from ASP, also known as Bluechip Energy.

Although there is no suggestion SunWorks Solar is involved in the alleged counterfeiting, UL said it had alerted the distributor of the situation and that it was “co-operating” in UL’s ongoing investigations. PV-Tech was unable to reach SunWorks Solar for comment.

It has emerged that concerns have been growing over ASP products since the beginning of the year.

In February, following a request from UL, ASP issued a recall in February of 1,000 of its modules “for reasons of code compliance”. It is unclear whether the recall was for the same modules currently under investigation.

ASP’s notice said: “Certain photovoltaic products were mislabeled during the manufacturing process and according to Underwriters Laboratory, may contain components with unknown compliance to UL 1703 standards. Such components have not been evaluated by the laboratory for compliance with the appropriate Standards for Safety.”

Ray Johnson, president of US Solar Institute and CEO of contractor Florida Solar One claims in his blog that ASP has been “cutting corners”. He also said: “ASP has already had to shut down a few factories until further notice.”

Johnson also claimed that having purchased about 100 ASP panels “not once have these panels ever met their stated standard test condition promises. On most days, we’re lucky to even reach 65% of the rated capacity”.

Meanwhile, in his blog, Jim Jenal, founder of Run On Sun, a California-based solar installation and consulting company, said that although the three ASP modules are on the ‘approved module list’ for California Solar Initiative (CSI), listed under the name of ASP’s parent company, Bluechip Energy, CSI data shows that none of the modules have apparently been installed under the programme.

“We cannot find any appearance of PV modules – of any model – under either the Bluechip Energy or ASP names – which seems really strange for a product that is approved for CSI and has apparently been sold for years,” Jenal said.

Furthermore, Jenal writes: “We were able to find these products available for purchase online at prices ranging from US$1.29/W to US$1.50/W – not exactly discount prices. We saw no indication of the recall notice on any of the online retail sites.”

PV-Tech was unable to reach ASP for comment despite repeated attempts.

John Drengenberg, director of consumer affairs at UL, told PV-Tech that although counterfeit labels are difficult to identify, if they look suspicious installers should make the relevant enquiries.

He advised that if the manufacturer or distributor’s name is not on the product “this also is often associated with counterfeit products”.

Furthermore, Drengenberg said that “buyers or purchasing agents should keep up on recent government recalls and press releases from UL.”

20 October 2021
Utility-scale solar is evolving, shaped by higher power modules and demand for increasingly lower levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). Those trends are also changing project requirements elsewhere, with inverters capable of delivering high power density and power capacity in strong demand. In this webinar, FIMER will detail how its innovative high-power, multi-MPPT string inverter and modular conversion solution can both meet those demands and transform the utility-scale solar sector for the better.
20 October 2021
The race is on but we need to sprint… With global climate talks fast approaching and time running out to prevent the most disastrous impacts of climate change, now is the time to act. The Summit will explore the opportunities that emerge from taking action on climate change and provide a clear pathway forward for governments, citizens and companies. Taking place just 10 days before the G20 meeting in Rome, on 30-31 of October, and in the lead up to the critical COP26 meeting in Glasgow from 31 October–12 November, this event will be instrumental in influencing ambitious global action.
10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
15 November 2021
The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!
23 November 2021
The solar, storage and EV industries in the UK are going from strength to strength. There is no better place for the community to meet, share ideas and do business than Solar & Storage Live from 23-25 November at the NEC.There’s something for everyone; more than 150 exhibitors, a high-level conference, a start up and innovation zone, a poster zone, strategic partners to network with and much more. 
1 December 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content, access to session recordings and chat/messaging tools for delegates to connect.

Read Next

October 20, 2021
Mining company Rio Tinto is looking to deploy an additional 6GW of solar and wind in Australia as part of a new plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
October 20, 2021
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has signed a 310MW virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Texan renewable energy company Vesper Energy under a 15-year agreement.
October 20, 2021
Infrastructure fund manager DIF Capital Partners is acquiring a majority interest in ib vogt, in a deal that is expected to fast track the solar developer’s transition towards an independent power producer (IPP) model.
October 20, 2021
South Korean clean energy company SK E&S has invested US$300-400 million in LS Power’s newly launched REV Renewables that will accelerate the expansion of its portfolio of renewable power and energy storage projects.
October 19, 2021
Funds managed by private equity firm Antin Infrastructure Partners have secured a deal to acquire a majority stake in US solar and storage developer Origis Energy.
October 19, 2021
Lightsource bp has announced its entry into Poland’s solar market through a co-development deal which will see the developer proceed with a 757MWp pipeline in the country.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
November 10, 2021
8am (PST) | 5pm (CET)
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021