GSES Australia staff members Geoff Stapleton and Clara Mazzone have just returned from a second trip to India this year. They have been working with the GSES India team, who are based in New Delhi. Discussions with them have a recurring theme: quality control. Although India’s ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of reaching 4–10 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) by 2017 and 20 GW of solar on-grid by 2022 is on track, the quality of some of the systems installed is questionable.
A rooftop PV system demonstrating installation quality control issues.
Evidence of a limited understanding of the technical aspects of solar is evident, just as it was early in the Australian solar market boom. Panels coated in a thick layer of dust are a common sight, as are rusted, broken or bent mounting structures and poor quality product
Poor quality is evident on this product installed less than 2 years ago.
Designers understand the concept that panels should be pointed towards the sun but often fail to calculate the sun angles or shading angles across the whole year, resulting in significant shading by trees or buildings. There are even stories of modules being cleaned with sand. The concept that a rough cell surface (diamond etching) absorbs more light had led to the understanding that a rough top surface lamination would increase this absorption.
Early installations of solar street lights were of poor quality and often mounted under trees.
Many players in India are well aware of these issues; however, as there is no equivalent of our standards AS/NZS 5033 and 4777 and there is a highly competitive tender process, quality control is often compromised to keep costs down and win projects.
These issues are by no means isolated to the Indian market, but they do highlight the importance of having enforced standards at all levels, from training and accreditation to technical design and installation.
As a new entrant in India, GSES is looking at how it can best serve this market and assist in creating a sustainable solar industry in the country, and the introduction of quality-control standards is a key goal. GSES is currently working with government, financial institutions, manufacturers and developers to make this happen and to build a strong foundation for future advances.
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