Durably Catching Rays

ASTM International has published a new standard that provides an important test for photovoltaic equipment used to generate solar energy. The standard (E3006, Practice for Ultraviolet Conditioning of Photovoltaic Modules or Mini-Modules Using a Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) Lamp Apparatus) is used to identify materials that degrade quickly when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.

According to ASTM member Sean Fowler, the standard uses the same technology described in another ASTM standard (G154, Practice for Operating Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) Lamp Apparatus for Exposure of Nonmetallic Materials). As a result of this alignment, the method should be relatively easy for manufacturers, laboratories and others to use.

"By making the test easy to understand, perhaps more such testing will occur, thus improving the long term durability of solar energy modules," says Fowler, weathering and corrosion technical manager at Q-Lab Corp.

With growing global demand for renewable energy, many governments have provided substantial research funding for photovoltaic energy. At the same time, technology and innovation in this area have increased efficiency and driven down costs. However, manufacturers need to show that photovoltaic modules are durable enough to compete with other energy sources. The new standard will help simplify and reduce costs of UV conditioning tests – key to predicting durability – making it easier for the marketplace to develop durable products.

Module manufacturers will be the primary audience for the new standard, using it to test new materials and designs prior to submitting them to accredited laboratories for independent qualification. Material suppliers for manufacturing will also benefit from the practice, as will testing laboratories that will be able to simplify procedures and lower costs.

Solar energy stakeholders are invited to join in the standards developing activities of E44.

To purchase standards, visit www.astm.org and search by the standard designation, or contact ASTM Sales (tel +1.877.909.ASTM; sales@astm.org).

CONTACT Technical Information: Sean Fowler, Q-Lab Corp. • Lorain, Ohio • tel +1.440.835.8700 | ASTM Staff: Kristy Straiton • Phone: +1.610.832.9640 | Upcoming Meeting: Nov. 17-18 • November Committee Week • Tampa, Fla.

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