VDE Testing and Certification Institute launches US subsidiary

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A leading German technical and engineering testing company has launched a US subsidiary, called VDE Americas, in San Jose, California, to evaluate performance yields at PV power plants in the US, Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

The President of VDE Americas, John Sedgwick, told PV-Tech: “Combined, those offer territories that we think have the potential for explosive growth.

“There is 30GW installed in Germany to date so there have been a lot of lessons learned in PV at a large scale nationwide. PV at a larger scale is very new in the US, whereas in Germany it is fairly mature.

“It's not that anyone is turning away from Europe, but the markets in the US are relatively untapped and there's a very nice growth rate.”

VDE also entered into a partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems which was announced at the PV Rollout conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to offer bankability assurance designed to meet investor, insurance and EPC/IPP demands for solar PV power plants. The new quality mark – VDE Quality Tested for PV Power Plants – verifies quality, performance and the safety of the system.

“There's no international standard of certification for plants as a whole,” said Sedgwick. “It leads to a lot of approaches as to how you do quality assurance performance yield on a plant. The approach that VDE and Fraunhofer are using has been developed over many years as an optimal way in the quality assurance performance yield.

“VDE's services are addressing a significant hole in the PV industry; that hole is that there is really no formal certification process for PV plants as a whole. What that leads to is a higher percentage of risk on the part of the investors and banks that are being asked to fund these financial assets that are expected to perform for 25 years.”

Professor Eicke Weber, Director of Fraunhofer ISE, said: “There is enormous potential for growth of PV installations worldwide and with increasingly competitive price levels there is a strong need to ensure the safety and performance of the system as a whole.

“I am sure that the product portfolio that Fraunhofer ISE and VDE have developed together, will support the American and global market.”

Sedgwick has 25 years of experience in the solar industry and his last firm Solaicx, which made single crystal silicon ingots, was sold to MEMC in 2010 for US$76 million.

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