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Photovoltaics: TÜV Rheinland Partners with TRaC Global to Offer New Tests for Sand Abrasion in Desert Climates


TÜV Rheinland, the world’s leading provider of quality and safety testing services in the solar industry, has teamed up with one of the UK’s leading environmental testing laboratories, TRaC Global, to conduct sand abrasion testing on full size photovoltaic (PV) modules .

Experts from TÜV Rheinland have researched different desert conditions (sand grain size, wind speeds, etc.) to identify a set of parameters that can be used as a benchmark for PV modules and other system components. An initial test sequence was proposed at the Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), 2013 IEEE 39th by experts of TÜV Rheinland. The underlying US technical military standards that form the basis for the sand abrasion testing are considered as not sufficient for solar applications, as increased UV radiation as well as high ambient temperature is not considered. Florian Reil, business field manager for innovations in the solar branch at TÜV Rheinland, states: “There is a definite need for sand abrasion testing, but we wanted to differentiate ourselves by developing it as part of a complete reliability testing approach for such environments.” A UKAS accredited organisation with expertise in sand and dust testing standards including DEF STAN 00-35, DEF STAN 07-55, MIL STD 810 and RTCA DO 160, TRaC Global was identified by TÜV Rheinland as the ideal partner for European testing.

Business analysts anticipate significant growth in the use of photovoltaics over the coming decades, especially in the sunbelt. For example, there are plans to construct solar power plants with more than a 50-gigawatt-peak capacity in the Gulf region by 2030 – around 41 gigawatts of which will be generated in Saudi Arabia alone.

As a partner in the Giga-PV research project led by SMA, with further cooperation partner Hanwha Q Cells, TÜV Rheinland is currently working to develop a comprehensive statement on component reliability in sandstorms. A test sequence involving elevated temperatures, strong UV dose and sand abrasion is being developed. The research project aims to adapt the individual components so they are ideally suited to extreme environmental conditions and to reduce costs for large-scale solar power plants. TÜV Rheinland already now offers comparative sand abrasion testing on modules, system components and mounting structures.

TÜV Rheinland is the world’s 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 more than 200 specialists in 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), Osaka and Yokohama (Japan), Shanghai (China) and Taichung (Taiwan), as well as at TÜV Rheinland PTL in Tempe (USA). 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.

TRaC Global is a leading testing and certification group which helps companies achieve product compliance.

Jörg Meyer zu Altenschildesche
+49 221 806-2255
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