Certification exists for everything from green homes to eco-friendly lumber, and photovoltaics (PV) may be next in line. Not everyone agrees that certification is the right course for the solar industry, though. Negative impacts could consist of higher prices for PV equipment at a time when the goal is to improve access, and a possibility that performance ratings will go down.
The debate comes at a time when solar incentives and rebates are increasing and more utility companies are recognizing renewable energy credits. Certification is viewed as a logical requirement to help ensure that solar systems receiving these awards meet a given set of performance standards. Supporters believe certification should not only test safety and performance of solar systems, but the amount of energy the system can save and how it compares with similar systems.
Certification would be set up to test the quality of PV modules, which are being built by many different manufacturers and sold at a range of prices. The goal of certification would be the fair application of credit programs and raising consumer confidence when purchasing solar modules.
According to an article published in Solar Today, certification within the solar water heating industry is a positive model for modules. The article lists the following benefits of Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) certification within the solar water heating industry:
- The performance of a specific system could be fairly compared in different locations;
- Different systems could be compared in the same location; and
- Results are provided for specific systems as well as collectors.