The solar panel manufacturing industry is booming. Prices and quality have been improved by fully automated production. With so many brands to choose from, how does one tell a good quality panel from a bad one?
Bloomberg, the company that delivers business and market news worldwide, has a division call Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They publish a list of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers every quarter. They use the term Tier 1 which is not a grading on quality but rather a rating on the bankability of the panel. In other words Bloomberg releases a list of the world’s top solar panel manufacturer’s base on their financial stability.
So Bloomberg’s Tier 1 top ten panel manufacturers list has nothing to do with quality – directly. Their ranking does infer quality because a bank will not finance a 75Megawatt solar farm worth US80 Million if the panels were likely to fail over the life of the project (usually 20 – 25 years). Another quality inference is that the Bloomberg ranking only includes suppliers with their own manufacturing facility. Companies that assemble or outsource manufacturing are excluded from the list.
So how does one determine quality when it comes to solar panels? There are technical due diligence companies that specialise in quality assessment and run the relevant tests. These include Edif ERA (formerly OST Energy), Sgurr Energy, DNV GL, Solarbuyer, Enertis , Black & Veatch, PHOTON, TUV, E3, STS Certified or Clean Energy Associates. Look or ask for their certification.
Africa is set to boom regarding solar power roll out. It is important that poor quality solar panels are not dumped on the continent at bargain basement prices. Use Bloomberg’s Tier 1 rating plus make sure there is a credible quality assessment company’s stamp of approval when deciding on which panel to purchase. Tier 1 manufactures typically offer a 10 year factory warranty plus 25 linear performance warranties.
Risen Solar Technology for example is a Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer listed in Bloomberg’s Top 10 plus they have quality certification from Photon with a ranking of 2 out of 176 international suppliers. They are a private company, listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange. They are also one of the few manufacturers that offer a 12 year factory warranty.
Solar panels need to perform throughout their life span which is 25 years. Don’t take chances on quality when you purchase solar panels as it will come to bite you in later years.
Author: The Building Whisperer