A PV module is only as good as the materials used to manufacture it. However, an important reality within the industry is that a single type of module may be manufactured from many different materials provided by many different suppliers. This can result in hundreds of material permutations within a single module type, each one potentially performing differently.
Buying a single type of module in reality often means buying many different modules at the same time.
To assure module quality, all the materials should be thoroughly tested and vetted, including the permutations in which they will be used. To manage this, it is vital that module supply agreements explicitly define the permissible “bills of materials” (BOMs) used to manufacture the modules, describe the independent testing to verify BOM quality and enable third parties to verify that the tested BOMs are actually used to manufacture the modules.
This “contractual chain of custody” over module BOMs is the only way to independently assure long-term module quality. This type of contractual support is a major part of PI Berlin’s services for downstream buyers in the solar industry – both in providing contractual language as well as helping to negotiate appropriate terms with manufacturers.
Contributed by: Ian Gregory, Managing Director, North America, PI Berlin