Friday, January 21, 2022

Solar Analytica Assessment Criteria (solar modules) 1.3.2.

Solar Analytica analyses the differentiating elements of solar modules in the global marketplace essential to purchasers. A measurable purchasing decision comprises five categories and is accompanied by a range of influencing sub-categories within each main category. The Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria has been derived by understanding each aspect and referencing against relevant market averages and innovations.

Averages of combined sub-categories formulate the nominated scores within each category through calculated or available technical data verified by 3rd party technical due-diligence institutes. No discretionary values are open to the analytical compilation within the Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria. Therefore, the values are in comparison to the industry above average, average and below average technical specifications on the measure of volume analysed, at the time of compilation. Version history (archive) can be found at the bottom of this page.

Aligning with common online reviewing formats relative to all readers, the Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria uses a 5-point format. However, to assist in a more refined result per sub-category, each scoring opportunity has a defined variation possibility from 0 to 50 points (10-points per point classification). As such, the Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria considers the average industry value (the middle) as 2.5 ranking points, more precisely acknowledging technical specifications above and beyond in diverse areas up to 5 ranking points.

The Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria considers the following five main categories:

Affordability as a category (on a global scale) is considered yet omitted as it can not be consistent on an international platform due to regional inconsistencies. A variable calculator will be made available within each report as part of the roadmap to determine Affordability more accurately.

Within the above-nominated categories are sub-categories of the common elements that may influence a particular purchasing decision. Below are the sub-categories which contribute to the Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria’s main categories.

Solar Analytica Rankings and Classifications for each category and sub-category defined;

Rank
Class
Discription
4.8 – 5
Above Avg (Cat5)
Above Average Category 5 classification. The pinnacle of commercially available, certified specification (Outstanding).
4.3 – 4.7
Above Avg (Cat4)
Above Average Category 4 classification. Specifications considered elite against the industry average (Elite).
3.8 – 4
Above Avg (Cat3)
Above Average Category 3 classification. Specifications considered superior against the industry average (Superior).
3.3 – 3.7
Above Avg (Cat2)
Above Average Category 2 classification. Specifications considered very good against the industry average (Very Good).
2.8 – 3.2
Above Avg (Cat1)
Above the industry average specifications (Good).
2.3 – 2.7
Average
Average industry specifications by compiled volume.
1.8 – 2.6
Below Avg (Cat1)
Below the industry average specifications. Or specifications which are absent/ unverified by a certified testing institute.
1.3 – 1.7
Below Avg (Cat2)
Below Average Category 2 classification. Or specifications which are absent/ unverified by a certified testing institute.
0.8 – 1.2
Below Avg (Cat3)
Below Average Category 3 classification. Or specifications which are absent/ unverified by a certified testing institute.
0.3 – 0.7
Below Avg (Cat4)
Below Average Category 4 classification. Or specifications which are absent/ unverified by a certified testing institute.
0 – 0.2
Below Avg (Cat5)
Unlikely for recently manufactured technology.

Rank: Solar Analytica ranking points nominated per solar module property attributing toward an individual sub-category (excluding overall row). Classification: Solar Analytica classification of the nominated score range. Description: Just a description. 

Structure where limited  Sub-category divisions exist: Where an industry average classification exists as the peak classification of a sub-category, an Above Avg (Cat5) classification is nominated. Greater than average points are nominated to sub-category average specifications limited by sub-category divisions. This modelling has been revised throughout all sub-categories and tested across diverse solar module types within the Solar Analytica algorithm to reflect a fair result for products in the context of the platform. Further details are not available due to the proprietory nature of the Solar Analytica ranking algorithm.

Design

Cell Type. Determining the Cell Type identifies the base energy harvesting material type incorporated within the solar module design, from which is considered aging to most innovative on a commercially available scale. Sub-category gauge;  P-Type monocrystalline. Content description; Cell Type – P-Type monocrystalline, Above Average (Cat2) ranking points.

Formation. A solar modules cell Formation design identifies the solar cell layout from which is considered aging to most innovative on a commercially available scale. Sub-category gauge; Split-cell. Content description; Formation – 120-Split cell (6-inch), Above Average (Cat1) ranking points.

Contact/ busbar.  Certain Contact/ busbar designs facilitate improved electron flow within the solar module design. Sub-category gauge; 5-ribbon front contact. Content description; Contact – 5-Ribbon busbar, Average ranking points.

Enhanced. Enhancing the solar cell interconnecting configuration improves a solar module’s overall energy harvesting ability with minimal compromise to efficiency. Sub-category gauge; PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell), PERT (Passivated Emitter Rear Totally Diffused), PERL (Passivated Emitter Rear Locally Diffused), Bifacial. Content description; (PERC nominated example) PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell). Content description; Enhanced – (PERC selected example for sub-categories with multiple options with the same ranking point nomination) PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell), Above Average (Cat3) ranking points.

Encapsulate (Superstrate/substrate). The critical nature of the Encapsulate design affects both the longevity and performance of a solar module, ensuring the integrity of the electrical circuit over time. Sub-category gauge; Glass-laminate (White, black or transparent Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate – EVA) no manufacturer defined. Content description; Encapsulate – (Glass & White laminate selected example for sub-categories with multiple options with the same ranking point nomination) 3.2mm, Anti-Reflective, Tempered Glass front superstrate. Laminate white Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate – EVA substrate. No manufacturer defined, Average ranking points.

Certification. Certification levels verify the nominated elements incorporated within the overall solar module to a certain standard; selected marks carry greater credibility towards specified values. Sub-category gauge; CE “conformité européenne” (European conformity). Content description; Certification – CE “conformité européenne” (European conformity) not independently verified, Average ranking points.

Awards. Recognised industry awards increase credibility and trust towards a solar module brand or particular product design. Sub-category gauge; Major international brand award. Content description; Awards – (EUPD Research Top Brand PV Modules selected example for sub-categories with multiple options with the same ranking point nomination) EUPD Research Top Brand PV Modules, Above Average (Cat1) ranking points

Durability

Mechanical loading (Static uniform mechanical load test). The purpose of a static mechanical loading test is to determine the ability of the module to withstand a minimum static load and still pass the marking criteria of the IEC standards. Sub-category gauge; IEC61215-2 MQT 16. Formula: Test load = γm * Design load. IEC – Safety factor (γm) is at least ≥ 1.5. IEC – min Design load 1 600Pa. The final measurements are the test repeats of MQT 01 Visual inspection & MQT 15 Wet leakage current test. Content description; Mechanical loading – 2400 Pa, Average ranking points.

Front wind loading (Positive loading).  Similarly to the static mechanical load test, Positive loading will determine a modules ability to withstand loads applied to the front face of the module and still pass all marking criteria of the IEC standards. Sub-category gauge; IEC61215-2 positive loading MQT 16. Manufacturer design of the panels Positive front loading will differ from the Negative back loading. Final measurements are the test repeats of MQT 01 Visual inspection & MQT 15 Wet leakage current test. Content description; Front wind loading – 2400 Pa, Average ranking points.

Rear wind loading (Negative loading). Similarly to the Positive loading, Negative loading will determine a modules ability to withstand loads applied to the back face of the module and still pass all marking criteria of the IEC standards. Sub-category guage; IEC61215-2 positive loading MQT 16. Manufacture design of the panels Positive front loading will differ from the Negative back loading. Final measurements are the test repeats of MQT 01 Visual inspection & MQT 15 Wet leakage current test. Content description; Rear wind loading – 2400 Pa, Average ranking points.

Damp heat test A Damp heat test will determine the modules ability to withstand the effects of long-term penetration of humidity. Sub-category gauge; IEC61215-2 MQT 13. Test Temp: (85 ± 2) °C. Relative humidity: (85 ± 5) %. Test duration: 1000hrs. Final measurements are the test repeats of MQT 01 Visual inspection & MQT 15 Wet leakage current test. Content description; Damp heat test – 1000-hrs, Average ranking points.

Thermal cycle test. This test will determine the modules ability to withstand thermal mismatch, fatigue and other stresses caused by repeated changes of temperature. Sub-category gauge; IEC61215-2 MQT 11. Temp range: (-40 ± 2) to (+85 ± 2) °C. Temperature rate of change: 100 °C/h. 10min dwell time at each temperature max and min limits. The cycle time shall not exceed 6 hr unless the module has such a high heat capacity that a longer cycle is required. IEC standards require minimum 200 cycles. Final measurements – After a minimum recovery time of 1 h at (23 ± 5) °C and a relative humidity less than 75 % under open-circuit conditions, repeat the tests of MQT 01 Visual inspection & MQT 15 Wet leakage current test. Content description; Thermal cycle test – 200-cycles, Average ranking points.

PID resistance (Potential Induced Degradation). Sub-category gauge; IEC TS 62804 MQT 13 and Clause5.5 Voltage stress test. PID detection test methods consist of; 1. MQT 01 Visual inspection, 2. MQT 15 Wet leakage current test, 3. MQT 13 Damp heat test, 4. Clause 5.5 Voltage stress test, 5. MQT 15, 6. MQT 01. No known improved qualification. Content description; Potential induced degradation – Resistant. Above Average (Cat5) ranking points.

Salt mist resistance. Salt mist resistance describes the modules ability to withstand salt mist exposure depending on the location and exposure category. Sub-category gauge; IEC61701. C1 – (testing per this document not necessary). C2 – (testing per this document not necessary) Dist. from saltwater ≥ 10km & % Time of Wetness (ToW) <25 %. C3 – Dist. from saltwater ≥ 10km & ToW ≥ 25 % or 2 to 10km & < 25%. C4 – Dist. from saltwater 2 to 10km & ToW ≥ 25 % or < 2km & < 25%. C5 – Dist. from saltwater < 2km & ToW ≥ 25 %. CX offshore & ToW(N/A). Different test methods applied according to IEC 60068-2-52 depending on the location. Content description; Salt mist resistance – IEC 61701 (Severity 3) C3, Above Average (Cat1) ranking points.

Ammonia resistance. Ammonia resistance describes the modules ability to withstand Ammonia exposure and remain up to operating IEC standards. Sub-category gauge; IEC 62716. Test section 1; Hours – 8h including heating up, NH3 concentration – 6 667 ppm, Relative humidity Saturation at about 100%. Test section 2; Hours – 16h including cooling, NH3 – 0 ppm, Temp 18°C to 28°C, Relative humidity max. 75%. 1 cycle = 1 + 2 test section. Duration = 20 cycles (480 h). Content description; Ammonia resistance – 20 cycles (480-hrs), Above Average (Cat5) ranking points.

Sand and Dust. Sand and Dust tests are performed to measure the modules ability to prevent sand and dust ingress. Sub-category gauge; IEC 600068-2-68. Test method LC1 (Blown dust and sand Recirculating chamber) or method LC2 (Free blowing dust). IEC 60068-2-68:1994 – Dust/sand type; Olivine size <75 gm, concentration 1 g/m3. Quartz size <150 gm, concentration 3 g/m3. Feldspar size <850 gm, concentration 10 g/m3. Applied test conditions – LC1: Chamber temp: 40°C ~ 45°C; Humidity: < 25%; Speed: 20m/s ±2m/s; Duration: 240 min for front side / 240min for rear side. LC2: Speed: ≈ 9m/s ±2m/s; Duration: 240 min for front side / 240min for rear side. Content description; Sand and dust resistance – IEC 60068-2-68 – LC2 6h, Average ranking points.

Hail Impact. Hail impact tests verify that the module is capable of withstanding the impact of hail according to relevant standards. Sub-category gauge; IEC 61215 & 61646. Mass: 7.3-grams ±5%, Diameter: 25mm ±5%, Speed: 23m/s ±2%, Energy: 1.9J, Temp: -4°C ±2%. Content description; Hail resistance – Diameter: 25mm, Mass: 7.3-grams, Speed 23m/s, Average ranking points. 

References;

Efficiency

Module efficiency. More relevant than cell efficiency, Module Efficiency provides a greater understanding of a solar module’s electrical circuit as a whole and the ability to convert photons (at Standard Test Conditions) into electrical energy from the nominated surface area. Sub-category gauge; 18 – 18.9%. Content description; Module efficiency (max) – 18%, Average ranking points.

Temperature coefficient. The temperature coefficient of a solar module determines the instantaneous performance efficiency deterioration at temperatures differentiating from 25°C (Standard Test Conditions). Sub-category gauge; -0.40%/°C. Content description; Temperature coefficient (Pmax) – (-0.40%/°C), Average ranking points.

Power Tolerance. A positive power tolerance determines that a solar module’s output at Standard Test Conditions should be between 0Watts and a positive value greater than the nameplate value. A negative power tolerance is anything below the nameplate value. Sub-category gauge; 0̷Watts to +3Watts. Content description; Power Tolerance (Watts) 0̷W to +3Watts, Average ranking points.

Maximum Power Density NOCT (W/m²). Similarly to Module Efficiency, power density NOTC (Nominated Operating Cell Temperature) more accurately reflects W/m2 (Watts per squared meter) in nominal real-world conditions, identifying the best use of the available surface area, considering more than the efficiency alone. Power density at NOTC factors the solar module area and the cell’s temperature changes beyond Standard Test Conditions (STC).  Sub-category gauge; 145 – 149 W/m². Content description; Power Density NOTC (max) 149 W/m², Average ranking points.

Reference;

Power density Internal post >

Performance Guarantee

1st-Year degradation. All solar modules will surrender to an initial stabilisation period when first exposed to the sun. What must be understood is how much degradation (guaranteed by the manufacturer at STC) will impact the performance of the solar module after the 1st year of operation in the field. Sub-category gauge; 5%. Content description; Factored degradation year-1 – 5%, Average ranking points.

Annual degradation. Similarly to 1st-year degradation, Annual degradation in the form of Photodegradation affects the performance of a solar module over time. What must be understood is how much degradation (guaranteed by the manufacturer at STC) will impact the performance of the solar module each year after the 1st year of operation in the field. Sub-category gauge; 0.7%. Content description; Factored degradation per annum (after year-1) – 0.7%, Average ranking points.

Performance guarantee period. The justification of the Performance Guarantee Period factors both the Annual and 1st-Year Degradation rate combined to determine the guarantee period. Sub-category gauge; 25-years. Content description; Performance guarantee period – 25-years, Above Average (Cat3) ranking points.

Performance guarantee assurance. Outside of localised legislative guarantee obligations, Performance Guarantee Assurance determines the length a manufacturer will go to support a module in the field should a performance guarantee issue occur to honour the guarantee. Sub-category gauge; Parts only. Content description; Performance guarantee assurance – Parts only, Average ranking points.

Product Guarantee

Product guarantee period. The amount of time from installation a manufacturer will guarantee the overall solar module (beyond Photodegradation) for defect in the field when installed to manufacturer installation specifications. Sub-category gauge; 10-years. Content description; Guarantee period – 10-years, Average ranking points.

Product guarantee assurance.  Outside of localised legislative guarantee obligations, Product Guarantee Assurance determines the length a manufacturer will go to support a module in the field should a product guarantee issue occur to honour the guarantee. Sub-category gauge; Parts only. Content description; Product guarantee assurance – Parts only, Average ranking points.

Manufacturer established. Established brands often display a level of character that has the ability to endure market fluctuations. Sub-category gauge; 10-19 years. Content description; 10-19 years, Above Average (Cat1) ranking points.

Authorised installer network. Trained professionals are more likely to ensure the integrity of specific solar modules in the field through comprehensive knowledge or ongoing training. Beyond industry endorsements, solar modules possess unique features, not common knowledge presented by general industry training. Sub-category gauge; No or not identifiable. Content description; Authorised installer network – No or not identifiable, Average ranking points.

Manufacturer bankability. Often used as a gauge for guarantee security, Bankability assesses a solar module manufacturers financial strength for projects based on set governing parameters within a nominated quarter. IMPORTANT: Bankability assessments cannot guarantee future outcomes for manufacturers. Sub-category gauge; PV moduletech bankability ratings CCC, CC or BNEF listed. Content description; (PVModuletech bankability rating CCC selected example for sub-categories with multiple options with the same ranking point nomination) Manufacturer bankability – PVModuletech bankability rating CCC, Above Average (Cat1) ranking points.

 

Reference;

PVTECH Research External site >
Bloomberg NEF External site >

Affordability

Technology aggregate. Omitted.

Market pricing index. Omitted.

Solar Analytica road map: Embedded regional (variable) Affordability calculator based on Solar Analytica aggregate coming 2022/23.

Detailed Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria reports are available (advertisement free) for purchase within each product review – see posts labelled Report Card. If you require an in-depth product analysis for an informed purchasing decision, the Solar Analytica Module Assessment Criteria reports are a must for both residential and industry projects.

Versions

When comparing products of different module assessment criteria versions, it may be essential to compare alterations to previous rankings or notes to gauge the importance of change. Past public module assessment criteria versions shall be located here, within the Archive tab.

First digit reference:  Major scoring alteration.

Second digit reference:  Minor scoring alteration.

Third digit reference:  Text or value alteration.

Current version:  1.3.2.

Solar Analytica Assesment Criteria (solar modules) Version.1.2.2.

Each Solar Analytica Assessment Criteria sub-category is collated utilising only measurable data points and is not open to discretionary values.

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