SERIS’ PV Module Testing (PVMT) Laboratory is a national laboratory accredited under ISO 17025:2005 for the provision of high-precision PV module testing, including “Golden Module” measurements. A core activity in the PVMT laboratory is secondary certification testing in accordance to international standards (IEC 61215, IEC 61730 and UL 1703). In addition, the laboratory conducts various industry relevant or customer-specified research activities to improve PV module quality and technical lifetime. In 2016, a world-class measurement uncertainty of 1.8% for crystalline silicon PV modules has been achieved in the laboratory, through ongoing equipment and system refinements and optimisation.
The core testing facilities offered by the PVMT laboratory include:
Using a flash-based solar simulator (model SunSim 3B from Pasan), the I-V curves of PV modules under 1-Sun illumination are measured at any fixed temperature in the range from ambient temperature to 75°C. The power output of crystalline silicon modules can be measured with an uncertainty as low as 1.8% under standard testing conditions (STC). The mounting flexibility of the system allows the testing of modules with sizes of up to 2.2 m x 1 m. The tester is also capable of measuring I-V curves at low light intensities, as well as determining the temperature coefficient (for example nominal operating cell temperature, NOCT) of PV modules with high accuracy. An application example of the tester are the calibration measurements of “Golden Modules” for industry partners.
This facility is used for module stabilization/light soaking, nominal operating module temperature (NOMT) measurements, as well as outdoor degradation studies such as light-induced degradation (LID).
In this test station, both hotspot endurance and UV ageing tests can be conducted. During the hotspot endurance test, defective cell areas are detected under worst-case shading conditions. During the accelerated UV ageing test, the module under test is irradiated with at least 15 kWh/m2 of total UV irradiation in the 280-350 nm wavelength range.
Climate chamber tests are commonly used to study the effect of environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity on the module reliability. These include damp heat, humidity-freeze, and thermal cycling tests. The typical damp heat test condition is 85°C and 85% relative humidity for 1000 hours, whereas “freeze” refers to a chamber temperature of -40°C. The thermal cycling test involves a cyclic repeat of temperatures of 85°C and -40°C. Besides certification tests, the climate chambers are also used for potential-induced degradation (PID) tests.
This test is performed to assess the electrical insulation resistance of the module under test. A voltage of either 500 V or the maximum system voltage (for example 1500 V), whichever is greater, is applied to the module for a duration of 1 minute and the leakage current is measured.
The standard (i.e., static) mechanical load test (MLT) is performed to determine a PV module’s ability to withstand mechanical loads such as snow and ice. The system applies a pressure of +2400 Pa and -2400 Pa alternately for one hour each, and then repeats this cycle two more times. If desired, the load is increased to +5400 Pa during the last cycle. A recently introduced test - known as dynamic MLT - subjects the module to 1000 cycles of +/- 1000 Pa as part of the reliability testing.
This test is part of the IEC 61701 standard. The PV modules are heated to up to 60°C and exposed to salt water mists in various repeat cycles and holding intervals. Such tests are relevant for PV modules which will be installed in coastal locations.
The safety of PV modules is measured using tests defined in the IEC 61730 and UL 1703 standards. They range from evaluating basic components - such as the adhesion of the junction box - to analysing the safety level of the composite module. As an example, the photo shows the carriage used in the Cut test.
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