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In October 2009, the first safety, life duration and electrical performance testing of PhotoVoltaic (PV) modules (solar panels or solar modules) were performed in the new SGS PV Laboratory in Dresden, Germany.

The PV module test laboratory is one of the most versatile test centers for PV modules in the world. The facility is capable of testing even large photovoltaic modules (2.20m x 2.60m) for electrical safety and the effects of heat, humidity, hailstorms, and different levels of sun exposure. PV modules are awarded the much coveted IEC certificate only after they pass more than 18 individual tests. Besides standard testing, the new lab will focus on consumer needs in the areas of special work requests or research and development investigations.

The nearby regions of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia are home to many of the world’s most important solar manufacturers. The new SGS PV test laboratory will bring technology and testing experience closer to these manufacturers and help them reduce overall development costs.

The International Electrotechnical Commission StandardsCurrently, there are more than 750 photovoltaic module producers worldwide, and the testing demand for new materials and techniques is growing. The conventional standards of PV module testing which are covered by the new laboratory are:

  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)* 61730 module safety test
  • IEC 61215 crystalline module performance test
  • IEC 61646 thin film module performance test

*The IEC standards are necessary for PV module manufacturers to promote and sell their products. The SGS PV test lab can perform the necessary tests and issue the certificates.

The new PV lab provides a wide portfolio of testing equipment including sun simulators, UV light aging simulation, climate chambers, mechanical stress tests, performance measurement and electrical tests such as isolation testing. With this versatility, the lab is able to keep abreast of new developments in the field of photovoltaic technology. Aside from standard testing equipment, capacity and consultancy, customers benefit from SGS’ experience in factory acceptance tests and failure analysis.

The lab testing services also include outdoor testing of photovoltaic modules under true environmental conditions. New models simulating the results gained under such conditions will subsequently be set up in the laboratory.

The SGS team was able to develop the PV module test laboratory within a timeframe of seven months and the first measurements on devices under testing were performed in September 2009. The team is now aiming for the next milestone of the project: the accreditation of the laboratory according to Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) ISO 17025. The target is to start performing certification testing by the end of 2009.

For more information on SGS’ services, please contact:

Jörn Brembach
Business Manager Photovoltaics
CTS Microelectronics & Photovoltaics, Solar Test House

SGS Germany
t: +49 351 8841 156
Website: www.ee.sgs.com

About SGS

The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With more than 56,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.