- IASS policy brief recommends devising international quality standards to be used as technical requirements for public auctions for solar
- Such specifications can reduce the frequent quality defects that data analysis of actual power plants in various countries shows as related to cracks, inactive cell areas, snail trails and hot spots
- The analysts believe such requirements must be aligned with respective national solar policy objectives and quality standards
- Such a framework will enable countries with limited experience to solar and related auctions, to benefit
Potsdam, Germany based Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) believes a public auction design for solar energy could do well to have international quality standards used as technical requirements, to ensure countries new to the field can avoid technical failures and lower solar plant performance.
Amid the growing need for the world to ensure an energy transition to cleaner technologies, public auctions are now a ‘dominant policy tool’ for solar PV deployment. But countries with little experience with the technology may benefit from a set of common quality standards followed internationally, stated a policy brief by the institute.
The policy brief reads, “The data suggests that technical failures occur on a large scale and are not only limited to emerging economies; they are still present even in mature markets like Germany. Quality defects occur due to both limited product testing at the manufacturing stage and poor installation and maintenance practices.”
Citing audit data between 2011 and 2021 from 84 solar plants in India, Germany, Morocco and Chile, the policy brief counts most frequent failures as related to cracks, inactive cell areas, snail trails and hot spots which can occur in any country.
Having technical requirements in the form of international quality standards can reduce the frequent quality defects that, as the analysts claim, were extensively documented in audits across different countries and climate conditions.
However, the brief does specify that the technical requirements need to be in line with national solar policy objectives, especially the state of national quality infrastructure system to ensure local developers can access the services needed. Public authorities must be able to monitor compliance with the quality standards as stated in the tender documents through in-person inspections at commissioning stage along with digital monitoring when in operation.
Local authorities should also ensure there is clear and accessible communication of technical requirements. “Highlighting their links to policy objectives can foster concerted work towards a common mission, while effective incentives should be used for the PV industry to adapt to new quality requirements,” reads the brief.
Easier said than done, the analysts anticipate challenges with their inclusion in solar PV auctions, as it would need governmental capability and cooperation, it may lead to higher energy prices during bidding, and it might exclude or deter bidders by being too stringent.
The detailed policy brief titled Technical requirements in public auctions to make solar plants shine, is available on IASS website for free download.