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Understanding Bankability for Solar Manufacturers 

By January 9, 2023January 16th, 2023No Comments

While solar modules typically have warranties of 25 years or more, most solar projects operating today are less than 5 years old.  Absent the long-term field data to show how these assets will perform over time, solar buyers rely on independent lab testing to help guide their purchasing decisions.   

Developers and financiers want to know whether the products they invest in will perform reliably before they commit to procuring modules. Because lab data proves that modules composed of different materials behave differently, the downstream buying community relies heavily on independent analysis and bankability reports. 

For solar PV manufacturers looking to access new markets and be accepted by potential customers, it is critical that they submit their products to extended reliability testing. Doing so is a critical step to help inform bankability reporting, and for your modules to be deemed acceptable for use by major developers and investors. It is also the reason why the PVEL Product Qualification Program (PQP) exists. 

What is Bankability? 

Bankability reports can help downstream buyers to assess whether they are investing in the right products for their unique project requirements. Bankability in solar means that financiers are willing to invest in the technology because data has indicated the quality and long-term durability of the solar module, as well as the trustworthiness of the manufacturer. 

A bankability report is often provided by an Independent Engineering (IE) firm, and is typically comprised of: 

  • Company Evaluation: Including financials, technology roadmaps, and certifications. 
  • Technical Evaluation: Including product design, performance analysis, and installation manuals. 
  • Quality and Reliability: Including in-process quality controls, internal lab testing, and extended reliability test reports like PVEL’s PQP results
  • Manufacturing Factory Audit: Including incoming and outgoing inspection, and a step-by-step production audit. 
  • Product Support: Including after-sales service, and warranty. 
  • Installations: Including past installation locations, and site visits. 

While bankability ranking reports are available, such as those from esteemed institutions like BloombergNEF, by their own admission, these types of analysis are insufficient for providing clarity around extended reliability issues for specific model types. In fact, all BloombergNEF Tier 1 module manufacturers participating in the PVEL PQP are differentiated with an asterisk (*) on the Tier 1 list to denote that they have submitted their products to our testing. This displays the manufacturer’s commitment to third-party testing. 

Why submit modules for testing? 

Markets with stringent bankability requirements, such as the U.S., typically have a higher barrier to entry but also higher module prices, translating to greater opportunity for new module manufacturers. Historical and more recent policy decisions, including the ongoing AD/CVD Case with the U.S. Department of Commerce, are impacting the ability of some manufacturers in China, Taiwan and an increasing number of Southeast Asian countries to import their products into the country, and there current supply is extremely limited. That leaves open a massive market to new manufacturers who previously did not consider importing into the U.S. as a viable solution.   

Although the U.S. market has well-established requirements for module manufacturers, they are well understood and achievable. Independent testing is one of the key steps for manufacturers to take to showcase their technology as durable and reliable over time. 

In PVEL’s eminent PQP program, each PV module undergoes a unique sequence of testing designed by PVEL with regular feedback from the market. Our PQP begins with factory production witnesses, and continues through a series of tests, that address the industry’s top reliability and performance concerns, including as mechanical stress, back sheet durability and LETID. 

The benefits of PVEL’s PQP testing go beyond bankability, including: 

  • Recognition in our Annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard.  
  • Eligible results from each PQP are included in PVEL’s PV Module Reliability Scorecard. Each year it is access thousands of times by buyers around the world.   
  • Easily Respond to RFPs.  
  • Gain access to the necessary reliability and performance data to easily and quickly reply to module purchasing RFPs.  
  • Reach New Buyers and Markets.  
  • With the manufacturer’s approval, PVEL shares your test reports with the global module purchasing community via our portal.   

Next Steps… 

Contact PVEL today to learn more about submitting your modules to our testing, or to get further information about bankability requirements from one of our experts.    

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