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PV projects

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Foto cortesía: China Solar

The move by China in May this year to slash subsidies for domestic utility-scale solar projects will ultimately benefit developers in the US who rely on imported solar panels to revive projects and jobs, says GlobalData.

Solar power developers in the US have been struggling since early 2018 due to two separate policy decisions announced in the US and China. In January 2018, the US government imposed tariffs of 30% on imports of solar products to safeguard the interests of local manufacturers.

Hit by higher costs of imports, many developers announced cancelation of their projects. Utility-scale solar developers like Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC and Southern Current cancelled or deferred projects worth more than $2.5bn. Some developers even started negotiations to restructure their power purchase agreements due to higher costs resulting from tariffs.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US solar industry employs more than 250,000 people with about 40% in the installation sector and 20% in the manufacturing sector. Since the majority of them were employed by project developers, the industry started witnessing job cuts after the implementation of import tariffs.

On the other hand in May 2018 China, which has been struggling to build infrastructure to link the solar projects to the grid, announced a cut in the feed-in-tariff subsidy to reduce the surge in solar installations. Subsidy cuts in China have resulted in reduced demand for solar products within the country. Local Chinese manufacturers are now looking to export more panels, resulting in an oversupply in the global solar PV module market, which will further reduce the prices.

As a result, developers such as Inovateus Solar have become more optimistic. The company has closed a deal to develop a 6 MW solar PV plant in the city of Pratt, Kansas. Pine Gate Renewables, a North Carolina-based solar installer, has welcomed the move, since the lower prices will help the economics of projects already in the pipeline.

Following the announcement made in China, many developers will revive their hiring plans and the industry will witness an influx of jobs. So the drop in prices globally and in the US will help developers to revive projects and jobs which were put on hold after the import tariffs levied previously.

Source: GlobalData

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In the latest “2018 PV Module Brand Bankability Report”, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) ranks LONGi Solar the top 3 most bankable PV module brand with 1,025MW of loan-financed PV projects in the past two years. LONGi Solar’s ranking rose four places from the last year.

The ranking demonstrates LONGi strengthening bankability as more banks provide non-recourse loans for the PV projects specified with the company’s modules. Solar project developers now have the ability and favorable conditions to finance their solar projects with LONGi Solar high efficiency modules.

BNEF’s ranking is based on its database containing 25,455 PV financing projects, involving 57 PV module brands worldwide.

The “2018 PV Module Brand Bankability Report”, BNEF also provided Altman-Z scores of the world’s largest PV module makers in 2018-Q1. LONGi Solar ranks ahead of its rivals in the manufacturer credit ratings.

In the same report, BNEF has also featured the “PV Module Reliability Scorecard” released by the authoritative certification institution DNV GL. LONGi Solar is recognized as a “TOP PERFORMER” module maker by DNV GL for two consecutive years.

Mr. Wenxue Li, President of LONGi Solar, added, “Strong financials and bankability that are independently verified by Bloomberg NEF is one of many validations of LONGi as a reliable company with reliable products. Our strength in product, technology and financial health provides the best guarantee for our customers.

Source: LONGi Solar

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Soltec, a leading manufacturer of solar trackers, is launching the Solteach Pro training program, aimed at solar industry companies and workers specifically regarding PV tracker application in large projects. Solteach Pro is imparted by Soltec’s highly experienced engineers and project managers to train and certify individuals or companies in the optimal application of the unique SF7 Single-Axis Tracker, from plant design to commissioning. Specifically, the Solteach Pro program is aimed at companies (subcontractors or customers) as well as workers, whether they are engineers, supervisors or assemblers.

SF7 is the ideal solar tracker for large-scale PV tracking projects with its features of high yield-gain performance and agile application. SF7 has incorporated a screwless and tool-free module installation which requires zero maintenance. SF7 reduces the number of parts, resulting in faster, easier and more efficient installation. Those features combined with extreme supply and service performance have driven Soltec and SF7 to the top-tier globally.

The Solteach Pro one-day program is structured with general content and two specific parts: Solteach Professional and Solteach Projects. Solteach Professional is designed to impart supply and installation skills with factory hands-on or online training where participants will learn best-practices in project supply and tracker installation to best leverage the Soltec offer. The contents of this training include factory service packages, construction planning, installation steps and commissioning of the plant.

On the other hand, Solteach Projects is focused on engineering application with Soltec’s dynamic PV plant design training and the objective to leverage SF7 Single-Axis Tracker features of yield-density and agile application. The contents of this training are: characteristics and advantages of the SF7, SF7 configurations, subfield design and plant design with AutoCAD.

Soltec CEO Raul Morales said, “Solteach Pro helps customers get the most out Soltec’s complete offer of a remarkable product and team dedication to finding success amongst challenges.

Solteach Pro complements Soltec’s Onsite Services. Those services include advisory, logistics, commissioning, and regionally available installation and O&M contracting.

The Onsite Advisory Plan service is cost-effective for many of Soltec’s customers. Onsite Soltec staff guide customers’ team through the details of logistics, site-work, and equipment installation in construction, leaving field team the additional scope of supervision, execution, and management. Onsite Advisory services combine strengths between project partners to reduce costs.
Soltec is prepared to take additional supervisory and task-scope across the range of Soltec Service Plans that standardize customer experience options.

Soltec’s Pull Testing Service is not common amongst tracker suppliers but has become the usual choice of Soltec customers to most simply reduce investment risk and conform with due diligence criteria in the pre-construction phase.

Soltec’s global operations and workforce of over 750 people blend experience with innovation. The company has manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Brazil, China, and Spain, as well as offices in Australia, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. With a strong commitment to renewable energy and the environment, the company is dedicated to innovation, product standardization, and customer success.

Source: Soltec

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Gamesa Electric will be the supplier of PV solar power stations for six projects that OPDE will build in Spain. The total power of these projects is 300 MW.

The scope of supply for each of these projects is 9 x 5,2 MVA PV Solar Power Stations. Each one includes two of our high efficiency Gamesa E-2.5 MVA-SB-I PV Inverters at 1500Vdc, which scores one of the highest efficiencies in the PV market (99.0% maximum efficiency; 98.8% European efficiency). In addition, each PV Solar Power Station integrates a step-up transformer and a medium voltage protection switchgear.

gamesa_opde-2All these will be integrated within a prefabricated concrete solution with all the connections fully wired and factory tested, for ease of both field assembly and installation.

The construction works for these projects will start by last quarter of this year. A total of 200MW are part of the project package won by OPDE in the renewable energy auction celebrated in 2017, with a commissioning date before end of 2019.

Source: Gamesa Electric

The use of solar trackers in utility-scale PV projects is growing rapidly around the world. According to the GTM Research report “Global Solar PV Tracker Market Shares and Shipments 2018”, tracker shipments grew by 44% globally in 2017. GTM also found that Latin American countries were the largest markets for solar trackers, followed by the US. Indeed, GTM expects 80-90% of all utility-scale PV projects deployed in Latin America this year to use tracker systems. Independent consultancy TÜV Rheinland PTL has recently published a report, commissioned by solar tracker manufacturer Array Technologies, on the economic and risk analysis of the two main tracker architectures (centralised and decentralised). This article sets out the main conclusions of this report, and their significance for Latin America due to the extensive range of climatic challenges facing trackers in this region.

It has been proven that solar trackers increase the utility-scale production of PV energy. Moreover, the economic benefits of using a solar tracking system is greater in areas of high irradiation, which correspond to rapidly growing PV markets, such as Latin America, the MENA and APAC regions, where solar trackers are increasing their market share in large plants over fixed tilt mounting systems.

While a variety of solar trackers are available, two predominate: centrally driven architecture (centralised) and individual row driven architecture (decentralised). A centralised architecture involves a system driven by a single motor linked by a rotating driveline to multiple tracker rows. In a decentralised architecture, each row operates as a self-contained unit.
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Article published in: FuturENERGY May 2018

The financing of two huge PV projects in the United Arab Emirates helped to drive a recovery in global clean energy investment to $64.8 billion in the second quarter of this year, the highest for any quarter since 2Q 2016. The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum III plant in Dubai and the Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan project in Abu Dhabi, at 800 MW and 1.2 GW respectively, contributed $1.9 billion between them to the global investment total in 2Q 2017, according to the latest authoritative figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Other highlights of the data include bounce-backs in investment in the April-to-June quarter in China and the U.S., and sharply increased funding for projects in Mexico, Australia and Sweden. In addition, Egypt and Argentina, two new markets for renewables, saw record quarterly figures. The weakest feature was the U.K., where investment slumped more than 90% compared to 2Q 2016.


Overall, solar was the star sector in 2Q, notching up investment of $35.6 billion, up 19% year-on-year and 20% quarter-on-quarter. Wind had a weaker three months, seeing investment slip 29% year-on-year to $26.2 billion, although it was 43% higher than in the first quarter of this year.

The commitments made to both solar and wind were less in dollar terms per MW in 2Q 2017 than they would have been in previous years because of sharp reductions in costs. BNEF estimates that global capital costs for PV and onshore wind have dropped by 15% and 14% respectively in the last 12 months, in response to fierce competition in manufacturing, and technology improvements.

There were only two large offshore wind arrays financed in Europe in 2Q – the 200 MW Borkum West II and 112MW Albatros projects in German waters, at $918 million and $532 million. Other top project deals of the quarter were two Chinese 300 MW offshore wind arrays, Three Gorges Dafeng and Three Gorges Zhuanghe, costing an estimated $1.8 billion in total, the 396 MW Juchitan de Zaragoza onshore wind farm in Mexico, at $721 million, and the Avangrid La Joya onshore wind park in the U.S., at 400 MW and an estimated $620 million.

Outside solar and wind, other clean energy sectors saw modest flows in 2Q. Biomass and waste-to-energy had investment of $387 million, down 76% year-on-year; small hydro $595 million, down 20%; geothermal $423 million, down 24%; and investment in energy smart technology companies (in areas such as smart grid, energy storage and electric vehicles) was $1.5 billion, down 50% year-on-year.

Overall asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects was $51.7 billion in 2Q, down 13% on a year earlier but up 32% on 1Q 2017. Small-scale solar projects of less than 1 MW attracted $10.8 billion, up 8% year-on-year.

Public markets investment in specialist clean energy companies totaled $1.2 billion in the 2Q, down 65% year-on-year and 47% quarter-on-quarter. The largest equity raisings on stock markets were for two Chinese companies, project developer Huaneng Renewables ($281 million) and solar glass maker Xinyi Solar ($194 million).

Venture capital and private equity investment in clean energy continued its recent upswing, with $1.9 billion raised in 2Q, up 50% on the same period in 2016 and 15% on 1Q this year. The top VC/PE deals were $400 million for Microvast Power System, a Chinese maker of batteries for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, $113 million for French solar developer EREN Renewable Energy and $100 million for U.S. energy-efficient window company View Inc.

Taking all those categories of investment together, country-level results for the second quarter included:

  • China $23.3 billion, down 16% compared to 2Q 2016, up 32% from 1Q 2017.
  • The U.S. $14.7 billion, up 6% year-on-year, up 51% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Europe $8.8 billion, down 49% year-on-year, up 10% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Germany $3.2 billion, down 34% year-on-year, down 7% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Japan $2.9 billion, up 12% year-on-year, down 11% quarter-on-quarter.
  • India $2.6 billion, up 11% year-on-year, down 4% quarter-on-quarter.
  • A.E. $2.1 billion, up from almost nothing in 2Q 2016 and 1Q 2017.
  • Brazil $1.9 billion, down 1% year-on-year, up 10% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Mexico $1.8 billion, up 261% year-on-year, down 10% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Australia $1.5 billion, up 77% year-on-year, down 29% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Sweden $887 million, up 213% year-on-year, and up from almost nothing in 1Q.
  • France $845 million, up 43% year-on-year, down 1% quarter-on-quarter.
  • Egypt $805 million, up from almost nothing in 2Q 2016 and 1Q 2017.
  • Argentina $464 million, up from almost nothing in 2Q 2016 and 1Q 2017.
  • The U.K. $407 million, down 93% year-on-year, down 60% quarter-on-quarter.

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

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According to GTM Research’s Latin America PV Playbook, Mexico now has the largest contracted PV project pipeline in all of Latin America. Latin America is expected to significantly increase its share of PV demand. The region as a whole is expected to take over 6% of global PV demand in 2017 on the basis of strong growth in several major markets such as Mexico and Chile. Several key markets on the rise include Argentina and Colombia, with regional giant, Brazil, capable of becoming a force once again through economic recovery.

Utility-scale solar leads all other segments of PV in across the region where solar is beating out prices for other technologies in auctions, and capturing much more of the market share for non-conventional renewables. In the second half of 2016, solar prices reached a low for not only Latin America, but briefly globally at $29/MWh during Chile’s August national supply auction. Distributed generation is on the rise, in some markets such as Mexico and Brazil, where net metering and other incentives are in place.


Investment in the sector is spurred through the introduction of tax reforms, partnerships with development banks and funds for renewable-specific projects. Due to low PV prices, however, financing for low rate of return projects is one of the most challenging endeavors for developers. Still, economic recovery and corresponding growth in power demand helps sustain regional renewable energy investment in 2017.

Causes for concern in several markets include currency depreciation (Mexico and Brazil) to ever-present political changes. Latin America electricity consumption per capita is still relatively low when compared with OECD countries. The IMF revised growth projections for Latin America and the Caribbean downwards to 1.2% in 2017, with weaker than expected GDP gains in the major markets of Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina.

Argentina and Colombia are poised to cut into the Big Three’s share of LatAm PV demand

Argentina’s auction clears the way for almost 1 GW of PV to contract through the RenovAR program – a vehicle which establishes targets and ways for clean energy to flourish in the country out through 2025 – when the country has an 20% target for renewables generation. RenovAR Ronda (Round) 2 will be unveiled as soon as March to start the process for more projects to be added on beyond 2018.

Colombia is somewhat following the footsteps of several of its LatAm neighbors. Because Colombia only operates under private utilities, many PV projects are for self consumption only without proper incentives such as net metering. As of the most recent energy expansion roadmap, only 150 MW of solar was targeted by 2035, but that number should be surpassed by 2018 alone.

Mexico will spend 2017 getting started on the massive 4.2 GW pipeline issued in 2016. Projects are being signed, sited, and seeking financing but the continuing decline of the Peso is hurting confidence in whether project returns will be high.

Chile continues to be the leader of cumulative PV installed in Latin America. Chile will experience a down year in 2017. Projects wait to connect to an already congested grid, but Chile adds a few more > 50 MW projects to the grid.

Brazil may be largest economy in Latin America, but a recession and excess electricity supply clouds PV’s future development past already contracted projects.

2016 was the year of utility-scale auction surprises:

Both Mexico and Argentina’s auctions surprised and exceeded expectations in 2016, signaling the first stage for promising build out.

In Mexico’s case, there was doubt whether the proposed energy transition would pan out to the benefit of solar – especially for the utility scale. Before the first energy auction in March, there were many differing views as to whether PV would be able to compete with other energy sources like wind and natural gas. These reservations proved to be overblown as PV emerged as the overwhelming winner in both utility auctions totaling 4.2GW of capacity at prices as low as $33/MWh.

Argentina was an absolute wildcard factoring into the overall dynamics of regional PV. President Macri showed signs of reviving an aging and uncompetitive sector when he was elected in late 2015, but the swiftness of the changes to the sector were unexpected. In total, through 2 rounds of auctions, Argentina added close to 1 GW of utility scale PV. It was, however, the introduction to financing and renewable energy targets in 2016 which set solar up for success in the long term.

The largest economy in the region, Brazil, fell victim to several macroeconomic factors from political instability to drought. These factors decreased the overall electricity demand year over year by 0.7%, and was the main driver for the cancellation for both planned 2016 auctions for which solar was to be a part of. Almost 700 MW of tendered projects from 2014 remain in flux after a potential cancellation plan was scrapped.

2017 regional trends

Brazil was unableto catch a break in almost every facet of the market in 2016. Expect 2017 to be a rebound year for PV as the economy grows incrementally. It is also expected that ANEEL has factored in the regular ebb and flow of hydro capacity when planning future supply auctions. Expect especially the C&I segments add another 50-80MW.

The most recent CNE supply auction in Chile, actually turned out to be a gain for PV. Developers shrewdly worked around the block bidding structure to secure generation in the 24 hour slots using other technologies as a front for a portion of the project to be solar. Look for SIC-SING interconnection to spill progress into early to mid 2018.

Recent auctions in México marked the expiration of permits from the old scheme. Auctioned projects are now in the financing stage, one that will not an easy hurdle to clear given the low rates of return calculated on some projects. Installers have capitalized on the DAC tariff clients, but rates in O-M and H-M industrial classes are increasing too. Look for most of the 2017 DG installations to take place in this class.

Thawing of international relations has provided a spike in the interest of developing renewables in Cuba. The completion of a 50 MW utility plant and 100 MW auction will lead to more interest pouring into the country given its demand needs. Colombia can be pegged as the new Argentina, with a more stabilized government and need for cleaner and cheaper energy sources. Colombia, however, faces policy and incentive limitations.

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Trina (TSL: US), the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, and Grenergy (GRE: SM), a leader in the development of solar projects in Latin America, have formalized over the past weeks an agreement aimed at constructing solar photovoltaic projects in Chile, through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This agreement establishes a Joint Venture in which both companies will hold a 50% stake.

With this commitment, Grenergy will consolidate its growth strategy in Chile where the company currently has a strong pipeline of projects under development and construction.

Through this investment agreement, Grenergy will undertake the construction of solar photovoltaic projects in Chile with Trina modules, opening the possibility of collaboration in other Latin American markets. The first step of this partnership which could reach 60MW is intended to begin with the construction of two PMGD projects (Small Means of Distributed Generation) in Chile totaling 6 MW in the first quarter of this year.

Once operational, both parties are intending to sell them to third party investors and replicate this scheme with new solar projects.

Grenergy and Trina are expecting to execute this agreement in January 2016 and start the construction of the first project in the first quarter of 2016.

Grenergy has established itself as a leading developer of projects connected to the Chilean distribution grid (PMGD) with a pipeline of approximately 150MW in various stages of development.

Grenergy currently operates in four countries of Latin America  (Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia) which together with the Spanish market represent a pipeline of project in development  greater than 1 GW.

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Fotowatio Renewable Ventures B.V. (FRV), a leading global developer of utility-scale PV solar power plants, has completed the construction of La Jacinta solar PV plant in Uruguay. The project is the first large-scale solar plant in Uruguay and one of the largest solar PV projects in Latin America. La Jacinta solar PV plant was the first solar power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with the Uruguayan state-owned electric company ‘Administración Nacional de Usinas y Transmisiones Eléctricas’ (UTE) and is the first to become operational. Located in Salto, in the north of Uruguay, the plant is part of the government’s ambitious policy to promote more extensive usage of solar power.

The plant began supplying electricity to the grid in July 2015 and received an acceptance certificate from the UTE on September 7, 2015. With 64 MWdc of installed power, the solar plant provides the 100% of its energy to the UTE and meets the electrical needs of approximately 35,000 homes, while eliminating approximately 74.142 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Rafael Benjumea, CEO of FRV, said: “The key to the success of this project lies in the close collaboration maintained with the UTE, the Ministry of Energy and other regional and local authorities throughout the various phases of the project. We would also like to thank the Inter-American Development Bank and DNB for their ongoing support and helping make Uruguay home for one of the largest solar PV projects in Latin America.”

“Launching La Jacinta is a great milestone and a source of pride for us, as it is the first solar plant of significant size to start operating in Uruguay. This success is an endorsement of our credentials and expertise and positions us well to further develop sustainable clean energy projects in this country and across the Latin American continent,” he continued.

FRV was acquired by Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and Environmental Services (a division of Abdul Latif Jameel International DMCC) in April 2015, following the successful joint venture partnership announced between the two companies in January 2014. The acquisition resulted in Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and Environmental Services’ 100% ownership of FRV, which currently holds a 4.3 GWdc pipeline of projects in emerging solar markets, including the Middle East, Australia, Africa and Latin America. 4.3 GWdc of power is the equivalent of generating enough electricity to supply approximately 2,000,000 homes and remove approximately six million tons of CO2 emissions.

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The PV Mobile Lab, the mobile testing solution of Enertis has carried out on-site testing of solar projects totaling 300 MW of installed capacity in the first six months of the year. The projects are distributed across more than 20 plants and about 2,000 modules analyzed. This figure contributes towards more than 6,000 inspected panels since the PV Mobile Lab’s launch in 2013.

The work performed by the PV Mobile Lab has allowed the technical assessment of PV modules throughout the sale process of large solar installations, to verify and validate the quality of the modules prior to shipment of supplies from factories. Furthermore, it helps detect and diagnose degradation problems with the modules after the first months of operation. For example, thanks to PV Mobile Lab, Enertis has been able to analyze and diagnose cases of Potential Induced Degradation (PID) at several photovoltaic plants in France and England, estimating with high accuracy the degree of evolution of the issue. In addition, this tool has been used to evaluate, thanks to its Class A+A+A+ solar simulator (IEC 60904), the incidence of different visual defects (“snail trails”, yellowing, etc.) in the capacity of the photovoltaic modules installed to produce energy.

Quality control on-site

In the first six months of 2015, the PV Mobile Lab has conducted quality controls and tests of projects for most of the major investors, developers and builders of photovoltaic solar plants worldwide such as SunEdison, Lightsource RE, Conergy and Next Energy Capital.

The PV Mobile Lab’s flexibility accompanies Enertis in its international expansion. Since its launch the PV Mobile Lab has been operating in many European countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States, where Enertis also possesses one mobile laboratory unit.

Furthermore, Enertis is currently developing additional units which, with strategic partners, will allow the company to provide similar on-site services in several important markets such as Japan, China, Brazil, Chile and India.

Enertis helps developers, engineering firms and financial institutions, among other players of this industry, to ensure the profitability of investments in photovoltaic projects, checking the status of the modules and their ability to ensure electricity production during their lifespan, and minimizing the risk of loss of productivity resulting from failure.

PV Mobile Lab

The PV Mobile Lab, designed and developed by Enertis, is the first mobile unit planned to perform on-site quality control of the significant component of photovoltaic plants, the solar module, avoiding its transport to conventional fixed laboratories and significantly reducing the period of time during which the panels are uninstalled to undergo technical inspections and performance tests. This is an important tool when accepting large batches of modules and inspecting for impairments, among other applications, thanks to the measurement of maximum power of the modules under Standard Test Conditions (STC, 25 °C, spectrum AM1.5G and 1,000 W/m2 irradiance), with a low margin of uncertainty.

The laboratory is equipped with a class A+A+A+ solar simulator tunnel type and is able to control environmental conditions. Those are very important features, which ensure that results that results from the measurements obtained have a small margin of error.

The PV Mobile Lab equipment allows performing the following non-destructive testing on the PV modules on-site: Electroluminescence, Thermographic Inspection, Visual Inspection, Maximum Power Measurement and Electrical Insulation. The last three tests are performed following the Conditions Measure standard set in the IEC 61215:2005, whose implementation is accredited according to international standards ISO/IEC 17025: 2005.

In addition to the photovoltaic modules testing, the PV Mobile Lab comes with other necessary equipment to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis of the status of the plant both before and during its implementation.

The PV Mobile Lab has been funded by the Comunidad de Madrid, through aid managed by Madrid Network, an organization created to promote regional industry R&D promoted by the Consejería de Economía, Empleo y Hacienda.

SAJ Electric