“Fortunately, quality is getting raised now,” noted John Trout, Research and Development Manager, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions – the initiative partner of the Quality Roundtable series of events. “People are getting away from people just driving the cost down and now that quality is important when you want to generate electricity for a long period of time.”
Besides an investigation into material quality within modules, the Quality Roundtable event looked across different components, from cables and connectors, to inverters and tracking systems.
Nextracker participated in the 2017 event for the first time, and the tracker supplier’s Marty Rogers, VP of Asset Management and Support, noted that a culture of quality, reliability and durability needs to be fostered right across a company, from the CEO to the factory floor.
“I think today you’re in a market where there are fields that are 700 MW and have thousands and thousands of tracker systems, for instance, and thousands of inverters, and if the culture of the company isn’t around the idea that we are going to manage the quality and reliability coming from the very, very top – the CEO level,” said Rogers.
One of the important features of the Quality Roundtable events is that it brings together component and material suppliers with project developers, certification bodies, insurers and investors. In this way it fosters a holistic dialogue about quality, bringing home that there is no easy fix to the complex challenge of delivering solar projects that will last up to 30 years in the field.
Michael Belikoff, the Chief Operations Officer for leading North American developer Strata Solar described how things like the Investment Tax Credit can influence performance expectations from the investor standpoint, and he also spoke to the large number of variables at play within quality assurance.
“The decisions we make as to what hardware we use is only part of the equation,” said Belikoff. “How we stitch it all together, the choices we make in those components and then ultimately the labor that is going to put it together and how good a job they are going to do, and what kind of checks and balances there are and a little tension in the system, to make a better system – because at the end of the day that is really what matters is the system itself.”
This month at the PV Taiwan event in Taipei, pv magazine will host the seventh in the Quality Roundtable series of events, and the last for 2017.