Italy: TÜV Rheinland Offers Compulsory Flammability Testing for Photovoltaic Modules
Photovoltaic modules destined for the Italian market must satisfy new flammability testing and classification requirements. Building regulation requirements set out by the Italian Ministry of the Interior apply to all photovoltaic modules, regardless of whether or not they are integrated into the building. As the world’s leading testing service provider for the solar industry, TÜV Rheinland offers the required testing services to module manufacturers in line with UNI 8457 and UNI 9174, as well as classification in accordance with UNI 9177. This is all possible thanks to a new cooperation with the northern Italian fire protection laboratory of L.S. Fire Testing Institute Srl. It is one of few laboratories in Italy authorized by the Italian Ministry of the Interior to carry out the testing and classifications.
“The promotion and further regulation of the use of photovoltaics play an important role in Italy. Companies will have to react accordingly if they want to remain successful in this growth market,” says Jörg Althaus, Head of Solar Energy at TÜV Rheinland. In line with the test standard UNI 9174, the test specimens are exposed to sources of radiation and ignition. This helps to determine the specimen’s fire spread properties and dripping behavior. The UNI 8457 test method is comparable to the so-called small flame test in Germany, which also tests the flammability of materials. Products are then classified on the basis of these test results and the evaluation matrix specified in UNI 9177.
In the relevant document entitled “prot. 6334” dated May 2012, the Italian Ministry of the Interior calls for the minimum “Class 2” to be used for all photovoltaic modules in line with UNI 9177. However, additional certification regarding the fire spread properties of the surrounding roof materials must also be provided in accordance with ENV 1187-2, -3 or -4. Without any additional certification regarding the roof properties, only modules with the highest fire “Class 1” may be installed.
The new Italian directive is not covered by the conventional type approval certification in accordance with IEC 61730. However, TÜV Rheinland can also carry out the relevant flammability tests as part of the module design certification. TÜV Rheinland performs evaluations according to the test methods in cooperation with the CURRENTA experts in the German city of Leverkusen.
Thanks to the cooperation with L.S. Fire Testing Institute, TÜV Rheinland is expanding its global network for photovoltaic module manufacturers for issues concerning entry into significant sales markets. As a result, not only can manufacturers call on TÜV Rheinland’s international team of 300 experts for the solar industry, but they can also rely on the broad market knowledge in Italy. The independent testing service provider has been represented in the country with its own company since 1997, and also operates a 3,500 m2 outdoor test facility for solar modules and is involved in the testing and certification of solar power plants.
TÜV Rheinland is an internationally leading testing service provider for the solar industry. The company first started laboratory-scale technical testing of solar components back in 1985. TÜV Rheinland’s network of experts for the solar industry now comprises specialists in seven laboratories worldwide. As a global market leader for the testing and certification of solar systems, TÜV Rheinland operates test laboratories in Bangalore (India), Gyeongsan (Korea), Cologne (Germany), Shanghai (China) and Taichung (Taiwan), as well as at TÜV Rheinland PTL in Tempe (USA) and Yokohama (Japan). Across the world, well over 500 manufacturers of photovoltaic products are customers of the independent testing service provider, TÜV Rheinland. The specialists not only test modules and components, but also develop new test methods, collaborate on R&D projects for the use of solar energy and assist customers worldwide with the construction of solar power plants.
More information about test programs for photovoltaic components can be found at www.tuv.com/pv