First Solar is the first U.S. solar manufacturer to use the VDE Testing and Certification Institute’s VDE Quality Tested certification in North America. The certification will verify the quality and reliability of First Solar’s manufacturing facilities and modules, helping to reduce risk in investing in the company’s manufacturing, as well as its products.
The certification is similar to the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certifications that solar companies (and many other types of companies) currently use in the U.S.—and elsewhere—to prove the reliability and safety of their products.
“It’s a system that will cover the entire facility,” explained Alyssa Cauble, a spokesperson for VDE.
The VDE system also tests and rates the modules at the facilities and stamps them as passing the certification.
First Solar already tested each module for quality and reliability, but through its work with VDE, the company is trying to establish a benchmark for quality and reliability for its entire PV solar power systems.
"At First Solar we are committed to providing the lowest risk and highest quality products in the solar industry," said Azmat Siddiqi, First Solar's Senior Vice President of Quality and Reliability. "This expanded relationship with VDE documents rigorous quality assurance requirements at the PV plant/system level, and establishes our position as a leader in technical bankability."
"The use of the certification will also help VDE gain further international recognition for its PV testing and certification,” Cauble added. “They already have a standardized system in Germany and are now bringing it over to the United States. This will allow them to break into the North American market with the same certification as in Germany.”
The VDE Quality Tested mark for PV power plants was designed by VDE and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. It tests the systems for electrical and mechanical safety, evaluates system performance as well as proper system operation, and provides independent verification for investors, lenders, insurance companies and other stakeholders by highly competent and reputable independent experts.
"VDE has been engaged with First Solar for many years in the certification of modules and manufacturing processes. We're pleased that First Solar will be leading the industry by implementing our new VDE Quality Tested mark for their PV solar power systems," commented John Sedgwick, President of VDE Americas. "VDE and our partner Fraunhofer ISE are committed to reducing the technical risk often associated with PV power plant investments. We will continue to work closely with industry players to help raise the standard for the solar sector."