Video: Quality Roundtable at REI: “Cost is secondary, quality is paramount”

“Only when you have the right quality do you have an acceleration in the installation footprint itself,” Rajaram Pai, business leader E&C South Asia and marketing manager at initiative sponsor DuPont remarked at the beginning of the seventh pv magazine Quality Roundtable in India.

A range of experts from right across the solar value chain shared their views and aired their solutions to an enrapt audience in Greater Noida, near Delhi, India, in late September. A flurry of questions followed each presentation, with audience members happy to challenge, to probe and to prompt the onstage experts.

Oakland Fu, China market development leader at DuPont, said that India’s solar market looks like China’s did five years ago – with a culture that focuses narrowly on driving down LCOE. “What we have learned in China is that cost is only one part of the LCOE,” he said. “You have to look to the whole lifetime performance of the modules.”

Beyond ensuring good quality materials, India is also tackling with the challenge of improving installation and O&M standards. NEXTracker, making their second presentation at a pv magazine roundtable, explained how the company has trained 200 local installers in India to high company standards, while Olivier Haldi of Stäubli’s global business development reminded the audience of the need to balance opex with capex to ensure a viable LCOE. “Cables and connectors can have a huge impact on the long-term reliability of a project,” he said.

PI Berlin’s head of business unit PV-Systems Steven Xuereb explored best practice in O&M and explained that the amount of expenditure required to attain quality assurance is miniscule when compared to the overall capex.

LayTec’s director of sales and marketing Tom Thieme told the audience in India that a mere 3% efficiency loss in a 2 MW solar plant can lead to financial losses of $2 million a year. “How well do you know your quality on a module and cell level?”, he asked.

The two-hour event was rounded off by M10 Industries and CEA, which discussed equipment performance testing and independent module testing respectively.

The eighth pv magazine Quality Roundtable – and last one for 2017 – took place last month at PV Taiwan. Stay tuned for the video, and watch this space for even more Quality Roundtable events and discussions throughout 2018!