The requirements to be fulfilled by photovoltaic (PV) systems and components along the entire value chain are increasing as a result of ever greater use of and demand for renewable energies. In this context, issues such as making PV systems more affordable, better performing, longer lasting, and more reliable come to the fore. As a result, research institutes and companies in the solar industry need to cooperate much more intentionally; they must also consider potential needs to reduce the risks for all stakeholders along the entire value chain. On November 14 and 15, 2019, representatives from companies and research institutes discussed ways to achieve this during the »Quality Control of Solar PV Systems: Industrial Requirements and Associated Research Needs» workshop held by the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaic CSP in Brussels.

© Fraunhofer CSP
The workshop entitled »Quality Control of Solar PV Systems: Industrial Requirements and Associated Research Needs« strengthened collaboration between PV producers and research institutes.

The workshop was unique in terms of structure: 25 participants from research institutes and companies in the fiscal and asset management business, as well as owners, EPCs and manufacturers in the photovoltaic industry were able to take the opportunity to direct the activities in the research centers according to targets useful to them and/or the industry as a whole.

Based on previously distributed questionnaires, the research institutes generated keynote papers that were subsequently discussed. The current challenges and opportunities to eliminate these problems were summarized in four sessions: »Linking design qualifications to real time performance – Can or should this be done?«, »Quality control in component production with a view of system lifetime and durability«, »What are the lifetime-relevant quality measures during system integration?« and »How does an O&M strategy increase lifetime‚ and support the value of an asset?».

»In two very successful workshop days in Brussels, we were able to bring together producers and decision-makers from the solar business along the value-chain in order to discuss current and future development needs. We succeeded thanks to the direct dialogue and the open discussions, which allowed us to garner comprehensive findings on the different needs of the companies. At the same time, companies could learn about the state of the art, as well as ways to gain access to it. With the workshop, we further strengthened the cooperation between the Fraunhofer CSP and our partners from the solar industry, and we can now respond to our customer needs even more intentionally«, says Prof. Dr. Ralph Gottschalg, Director of the Fraunhofer CSP and workshop organizer.

Following the workshop, the intention is to elaborate guidelines on how to maximize the value-adding of photovoltaic systems in collaboration with the relevant industrial associations. Topics that, for instance, consider the planning/dimensioning, installation, and operation of a system are to be taken into focus and component manufacturers shall be analyzed in terms of quality features.

Ivan Gordon, coordinator of the Joint Program on Photovoltaics of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), which supported the workshop, said at the end: »The workshop was also successful in terms of the targets of the EERA PV program. We want to increasingly speed up the development of photovoltaics through joint project activities of EU business with leading European research institutions. In these endeavors, we strive for cost savings for PV systems due to an increase in performance, as well as the development of cost-efficient operation and management. The workshop held in Brussels ignited a crucial discussion between major commercial players and various EERA members active in the area of durability and reliability of photovoltaics components and systems.«