VDE, Fraunhofer ISE award First Solar first quality tested certification


First Solar’s 50 MW-AC Macho Springs power plant in Luna County, New Mexico, has become the first solar installation to meet the extensive safety and performance requirements for the new VDE Quality Tested (QT) Certification.

The VDE Testing and Certification Institute and Fraunhofer ISE on Wednesday announced the issuance of certification to First Solar for its design, engineering and construction of the plant, which began commercial operation in May. The installation employs First Solar’s thin film module and balance of system technology.

VDE and Fraunhofer ISE’s new QT certification — a first for the industry – is expected to enhance technical bankability. VDE said the VDE QT Certification of Macho Springs verifies the plant as a bankable solar asset and affirms that independent experts have validated every step, from initial design through to installation and operation.

The VDE QT Certification examines four key areas: the electrical and mechanical safety of the system; system performance, through an energy yield report; proper system operation; and independent verification for investors, lenders, insurance companies and other stakeholders.

"The VDE Quality Tested Certification sets First Solar apart, as they have now passed the most rigorous quality assurance requirements at the PV plant/system level, thereby assuring a significant reduction of technical risk for the financial performance of First Solar systems,” said VDE Americas President John Sedgwick. “Certification of the Macho Springs facility documents that First Solar leads the industry in technical bankability at the PV power plant/system level."

Certification of PV plant sub components according to international standards (such as IEC standards for PV modules and inverters) has been the basis for establishing technical bankability of PV plants.

"With the VDE Quality Tested certificate, VDE and Fraunhofer ISE strive to set a new benchmark in the global industry for PV power plant quality and reliability assurance, leading to greater risk reduction," said Burkhard Holder, head of Energy and Smart Technologies at VDE Institute Germany. "We verify not only the quality of individual plant components, but also the safety and performance of the overall system. Such a comprehensive approach, including both field and lab testing, leads to a significantly higher level of technical bankability and risk reduction for PV power plant investors and financial entities."