PVEL now performing hail testing for solar modules

Hail hits a solar panel during PVEL’s hail stress sequence, which is now a required test in PVEL’s PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP).

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), an independent testing lab for the downstream solar and energy storage market, has released a new hail test for its PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP) and announced that future testing will take place at PVEL’s new headquarters in Napa, California. The facility represents 100% growth in testing capacity at PVEL’s Berkeley and South San Francisco locations and will replace those labs when it opens in early 2022.

“From hail to super-sized PV modules, the reliability concerns of solar investors and asset owners are constantly evolving,” said Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL. “At PVEL, we have to evolve in turn. With our larger, consolidated new facility, recent test updates and strong partnership with the global Kiwa Group, PVEL is within the scope of our long-term vision to provide rigorous, comprehensive bankability testing for every type of PV module, inverter and battery – regardless of size, power class or field application.”

PVEL’s PQPs for PV modules, inverters and batteries are comprehensive, regularly updated suites of comprehensive reliability and performance testing that inform technical due diligence and procurement for solar and storage projects. The hail stress series has been added to the PQP to address concerns from insurers and asset owners about the ability of PV modules to withstand severe hail impacts. To design the hail stress sequence, PVEL used nearly 1 GW data from hail damaged projects it evaluated in the field, as well as test results from in-lab experiments.

“As globally installed solar capacity breaks every established record and solar PV modules are deployed to the farthest corners of the globe, we will continue to expose risks that can only be overcome with new data,” said Jason Kaminsky, COO of kWh Analytics. “Our team is excited to partner with PVEL and incorporate the PQP insights into our new real estate insurance product. The data from PVEL informs the industry how sustainable and insurable PV modules can be deployed in any location that needs clean power.”

The development of PVEL’s new hail test is based on insurance claims and power performance data from kWh Analytics. PVEL also sought feedback from its downstream partners, a diverse group of organizations that includes asset owners, developers and insurers. As with all PV module PQP testing, hail stress sequence reports are free to members of PVEL’s downstream partner network. Companies that sign up as PVEL partners use PQP data for technical information related to project development and financing, including product benchmarking, supplier management and equipment selection.

“As a global industry, we need to consider natural disasters such as hailstorms in the context of a changing climate. It’s time to future-proof solar projects around the world for new weather patterns that are difficult to predict but impossible to ignore,” said Kevin Christy, head of innovation and operational excellence, Americas of Lightsource bp. “Especially for solar in central US states, we need new testing protocols that will allow module buyers to truly understand the durability limits of those products against potentially damaging hail – especially given that over the next decade we expect installed PV capacity in high-risk states more than quadruple.”

In addition to the new hail test, PVEL has optimized the PQP to accelerate test timelines as part of a larger update to the PV module PQP. The revised test protocols enable PVEL to generate faster results without compromising data usability or integrity.

News release from PV Evolution Labs (PVEL)

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