Quality assurance plays a crucial role in achieving a robust photovoltaic (PV) market and confidence from investors, policy makers and consumers, according to a new report launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Titled Boosting Solar PV Markets: The Role of Quality Infrastructure, the report describes how a quality infrastructure can support the uptrend of newly installed PV capacity. From less than 10 GW worldwide in 2006, installed solar PV capacity reached nearly 300 GW in 2016. More than 71 GW was added in 2016, with over 113.000 M$ invested in solar energy technologies: This trend is expected to be maintained in the years to come as new markets in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Asia continue to expand. IRENA projects that by 2030 total installed PV capacity could range between 1,760 GW and 2,500 GW.
As solar PV power systems become increasingly competitive, continued market growth depends on assurances of performance and durability. Quality assurance protects and accelerates future PV investments, lowers capital costs, improves performance, extends module lifespans and lowers the resulting electricity costs.
However, comprehensive quality assurance requires physical and institutional infrastructure. This so-called, Quality Infrastructure (QI), comprises the total institutional network and legal framework that formulates and implements standards. It also includes testing, certification, metrology and accreditation.
The implementation of quality infrastructure can enable an effective route to achieve policy objectives of renewable energy, as it has a positive impact in each of the stages of the technology lifecycle. An adequate quality infrastructure, matched with appropriate government policies, can contribute to significant improvements in the performance and longevity of solar PV systems.