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Production & Inspection

Solar Modules: Quality Counts

Alice Springs, Australia, with around 300 days of sunshine every year, is an ideal test location for solar power installations. The Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) Solar Centre is a government-funded public showcase of solar installations, demonstrating a range of solar power technologies from many of the world’s leading manufacturers. KYOCERA modules outshine competitors‘ in 24-month test under same environmental conditions. Furthermore, they are the first in the world to have passed all ‘Long-Term Sequential Tests‘ performed by TV Rheinland Japan Ltd., who independently evaluates quality and reliability of solar modules.

By Stefan Wiebach



The Japanese technology corporate group KYOCERA has been developing and producing every component of our photovoltaic modules in-house for more than 30 years now--without buying in semi-finished products. The integrated production process enables KYOCERA to make improvements in each step of the production process including the fusing and casting of raw materials, thus making it possible to enhance overall quality by implementing quality improvement, performance enhancement and cost reduction. Right from the start, the company managed to be involved in solutions all around the world which provided photovoltaic systems even in difficult situations, for example, in settlements off the beaten track of civilization, or complex large-scale projects. The experience gained in this way is put to the benefit of all customers, in every country, in every possible area of application. The technical requirements for using solar energy do not come to rest, particularly in the face of increasing demands for enhanced profitability and durability of photovoltaic installations. KYOCERA has, therefore, initiated a broad-based program of research and innovations which is unsurpassed in the branch.


Best-Performing Crystalline Modules at Desert Knowledge Australia


The collection of solar installations in Alice Springs, Australia, operating under the same environmental conditions since October 2008 allows meaningful comparisons of performance among various brands. The Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) Solar Centre is not a research facility, but rather a public installation to demonstrate solar power, with output data available to anyone. KYOCERA’s interpretation of data collected during a 24-month period and downloaded from DKA shows that KYOCERA solar technology delivered more kilowatt hours per installed kilowatt than any other competing crystalline solar module operating for the same 24-month period at the DKA site.

KYOCERA has three polycrystalline silicon solar installations at DKA: a fixed pole-mount system; a single-axis tracker that adjusts east-west orientation throughout the day; and a dual-axis tracker that adjusts the array’s up-and-down tilt, allowing for variation in the sun’s angle during the year as well as moving from east to west throughout the day.

In addition to its interpretive visitor center, which helps educate the public about the benefits and capabilities of solar power, DKA has a world’s first interactive website (www.dkasolarcentre.com.au) providing live data feeds from the Solar Centre and information on the operational performance of the different solar technologies. This information is available for viewing by the public--anyone, anywhere, can access it. It is important to look at the Normalised Output tab to view the actual ‘kilowatt hours generated’ per kilowatt of modules installed. This allows comparisons between the different-sized systems.

KYOCERA’s interpretations contrast with the common belief that monocrystalline silicon solar cells, which are more expensive, would tend to outperform polycrystalline.

“We believe there is an important difference between lab test conditions and real-world results,” stated Michael Ludgate, KYOCERA Solar, Inc.’s Director of Business Development and Marketing. “The live data feeds from the DKA Solar Centre provide the industry with long-term, system-level data that prove the reliability and performance of solar installations in real-world applications.” The dual-axis tracking system performed best among KYOCERA’s three installations. Since solar panels generate the most electricity when light hits their surface directly, adjusting the surface to follow the sun increases their electrical output. The dual-axis trackers respond to light sensors on the face of the array, and are powered by the sun.

Meaningful and accurate comparisons of solar technology performance at DKA will improve the knowledge base for solar initiatives globally, helping to create a more sustainable future.


Passing of Independent ‘Long-Term Sequential Test’


Another proof point for KYOCERA’s high quality standard is the ‘long Term Sequential Test’ performed by TV Rheinland Japan Ltd. The company’s conventional 210-watt solar module was the test subject, and has proven to maintain a constant level of power output throughout the rigorous testing--which compared to standard industry testing methodology evaluates modules over a longer time period.

“Data collected from three large-scale solar power plants in Spain and Thailand show that our modules are performing at an approximately 16% higher power output level than the installers’ own original estimates,” stated Tetsuo Kuba, president of KYOCERA Corporation. TUV Rheinland‘s test results further prove the high quality of KYOCERA modules, and we will continue to ensure the long-term reliability of our products through both internal and external evaluations in the future.” The Long-Term Sequential Test evaluates modules with four sub-tests: Damp Heat, Thermal Cycling, Humidity Freeze, and Bypass Diode. These test the module’s overall performance and quality by putting it under harsher conditions than those standardized by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Furthermore, while conventional testing dictates that a separate individual module be used per sub-test, the Long-Term Sequential Test carries out all four sub-tests on the same module, thereby evaluating it under conditions closer to those a product faces over its actual lifetime.



Dr. Stefan Wiebach works as European Product Line Manager for KYOCERA Solar Fineceramics in Esslingen, Stuttgart, Germany. He started his career with KYOCERA (http://global.kyocera.com/) in 2005 and has successfully expanded the solar business for KYOCERA in Europe since then.



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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