In light of the increasing affordability of smart PV modules, global certification and testing body TÜV SÜD has announced the introduction of a new certification process designed to increase the reliability of these modules.
Having analyzed the market, TÜV SÜD concluded that although substantial improvements in the efficiency of smart PV modules is unlikely in the near future, cost reduction associated with their use has already seen these modules play a more prominent role in the sector.
Bereft of any standardized testing and certification process, TÜV SÜD has formulated two new certifications using a modification of the existing IEC 61215/IEC 61646, IEC 61730 and IEC 62109 to develop a more comprehensive, smart PV-specific testing process.
The new certification is aimed specifically at the power converters of smart PV modules. For AC smart PV modules the testing process is focused on the micro-inverter (which is used in smart PV modules to increase the power production of the whole string while eliminating the "cascade effect"), while for DC modules, the certification tests the efficacy and reliability of the power optimizer.
Globally, the certification has already been recognized by a handful of PV plant operators and smart PV module manufacturers, including Team Austria, which has used Alternative Energies Holleis Lotus G2 smart PV module (certified by TÜV SÜD), and Chinas Wuxi Saijing Solar, a company that uses smart PV modules equipped with SolarEdges power optimizer and covered by TÜV SÜD certification.
In 2013, SolarEdge accounted for 70% of the global market share for power optimizers, with companies such as JA Solar and ReneSola adopting their technology. SolarEdge is expected to grow this market share for 2014 expansion driven by the added value offered by TÜV SÜD’s smart PV module certification.