The manufacturer officially recognizes the institute’s performance and condition testing of Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) thin-film series 4 modules. Customers can therefore rely on the independent testing conducted by PI Berlin, an institute with recognized expertise in thin-film technology and manufacturing.
“We are pleased to recognize PI Berlin as an approved testing institute,” said Lou Trippel, First Solar’s Vice President of Product Management. “It is crucial for us that independent testing institutes perform at a consistent level and meet very specific standards in order to correctly test and measure our modules. PI Berlin has clearly demonstrated their expertise and proficiency.”
Making claim management easier
Investors and system owners will benefit from the approval of PI Berlin by First Solar — primarily regarding project security. If module defects are found after delivery, installation or operation in the field, First Solar will recognize testing done by PI Berlin and acknowledge valid claims. PI Berlin will continue to work as an independent testing institute commissioned by customers, not by First Solar.
“The evaluation process was no easy one,” says Lars Podlowski, member of the Board of Directors at PI Berlin. “In a laboratory performance test, First Solar modules were sent from institute to institute until every testing laboratory reported concurrent measurement results.Because of the numerous specific test instructions, the calibration process took one and a half years.”
Following strict testing standards
The thin-film technology employed by First Solar necessitates particular methods to test correctly. Conditioning First Solar modules incorrectly before and after testing can result in significant discrepancies in power measurement results.
Thin-film modules can exhibit metastable behavior, which can add variability to module power measurements. Thus, First Solar has developed special procedures for conditioning and testing its thin-film technology to ensure accurate and repeatable results.
PI Berlin is currently one of a number of independent testing laboratories worldwide adhering to First Solar’s strict test methods and operating under ISO 17025 accreditation (General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories).
A leading factory auditor
Additionally, PI Berlin independently audits First Solar factories to verify manufacturing quality and offers third party quality assurance for new First Solar modules shipped into projects.
“We have already successfully audited the production of First Solar’s series 4 and series 6 modules in the USA, Malaysia as well as the newest factory manufacturing series 6 modules in Vietnam. In supervising an array of large projects involving First Solar modules, we have become familiar with the modules’ behavior in the factory, laboratory and in the field,” says Lars Podlowski.
PI Berlin therefore occupies a unique position in the industry by being able to provide customers with technical diligence, quality assurance and claim management services for First Solar modules all from under a single roof.