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Certification of PV Power Plants: Value

proposition to solar industry in India

Project certification of PV power plants will help to alleviate these risks


and ensures a credible quality project

The solar industry is growing at a rapid pace. This is an integral part of the energy transition and
going forward, photovoltaic (PV) plants will become significant part of the electricity generation in
India. Energy share of solar power in India has been steadily increasing over the years. In year
2013, the total solar installations in the country has been around half of the installed wind
capacity [1], [2] and with favourable government government policies and market sentiments, it is
expected that this percentage will only improve in the coming years [3]. 
However, whilst being the fastest growing market in the world for PV solar, the industry is facing
challenges which could hamper future growth predictions. Typical failures with PV installations
are not only due to poor quality products but also because of severe shortcomings & expertise
during installation and commissioning. A good part of these shortcomings are related to
installation faults which are due to poor project planning and insufficient documentation. Majority
of the failures and damages are related to solar modules and cable laying. The other root cause
for a failure is lack of knowledge and expertise during installation. 

To mitigate project risks certificates that verify the quailty of PV power plants are essential. We as
DNV GL, are the world’s first to develop service specification for certification of PV power plants.
These specification’s help stakeholders owners, financiers, partners, insurance companies etc.)
to ensure optimal performance of the PV power plant throughout its design life cycle. 

Project certification consists of specific technical reviews that range from verification of plant
configuration, system performance, design verification of the electrical system, manufacturing of
components, transportation & installation surveillance of these components and finally,
commissioning of the plant. To contain project risks and to achieve the faster project completion,
 the certification body should be involved in the early phases of the project.

Why Certification is needed to investors, financiers and developers

To ensure;

-The confirmation of local requirements

-The confidence in technical integrity

-Sustainable energy production throught life-time

-Mitigating risks to environment and people

-Increasing reliaiblity in the governmentals and consumers interests

-Minimizing financial project risks

-Better insurance rates

-The investiment and optimise return of investiments

Why is project certification of PV power plants relevant to the industry and market?

-Project certification of PV power plants includes all phases of the lifecycle, which is unique in the
market  and, can be used worldwide
-The new DNV GL system  allows certification of pre-and post-construction of projects

-We have integrated most recent technical know-how and field experience into the service
specification

-We have addressed requirements for planning, components and construction of PV power plants

-Implemented scope considering performance ratio at site specific design & conditions

Certification process [4]

The concept of project certification for PV power plants constitutes a robust mechanism through
an independent verification of requirements laid down in the standards. PV project certification,
work scope mainly addresses the-

-Requirements for planning, components and construction of PV power plants.

-Implemented scope considering performance ratio at site specific conditions & design

-Consideration of latest developments in the market

Each certification phase can be verified independently according to the DNV GL project
certification scheme and will be completed with the issue of a statement of compliance for the
phase under verification. 

Project certificates can be issued for following PV power plants:

— PV power plant certification, starting from planning phase, or

— PV power plant certification, starting after the construction (post-construction).

The DNV GL project certification scheme consists of different phases; see Figure 1 for the project
certification starting from planning phase and Figure 2 for post-construction project certification.

PV power plant certification, starting from planning phase: 


Phase I:Design basis covers the site conditions, performance assumptions and the basis for
design. 

The purpose of the verification of the design basis is to evaluate if the site conditions,
performance assumptions and the basis for design including general specifications, criteria,
parameters, design approach, manufacturing, basic quality requirements, supplier qualification
and other assumptions relevant for the design are properly established and documented and that
this design basis is sufficient for a safe design and implementation of the PV power plant in the
specific project.

Hence, the design basis shall include codes and standards, design parameters, methodologies
and principles of the PV power plant and will be checked for plausibility.

Phase II:Design covers the steps necessary to achieve final performance and design verification. 

DNV GL will verify the final design for compliance with design criteria, standards and other
requirements specified in the design basis. 

The design evaluation will address the following topics:

-Site conditions and plant layout configuration

-Electrical components and systems

-Loads, structural and foundation design

-Operation and maintenance

-Component and personnel safety.

As a minimum the documentation of the PV power plant shall comply with IEC 62446.

Phase III:Grid Code Compliance covers the steps necessary to achieve verification of network
conditions.

DNV GL shall verify the grid code compliance (GCC) by applying the technical note GL TN GCC by
DNV GL and other standards and codes identified in the design basis. GL TN GCC specifies how
to prove compliance with requirements set by other documents (e. g. set by grid codes). 

Phase IV:Manufacturing covers the surveillance during manufacturing of the project related
components.

DNV GL shall conduct manufacturing surveillances in order to verify compliance between the
approved design and the product. The surveillances will be conducted at the manufacturer’s
premises for production of main components and will involve:

-Evaluation of manufacturing

-Evaluation of the quality management system, if ISO 9001 certificates are not available

-Product related quality audits

-Surveillance of contractor’s quality management activities.

Phase V:Transport and installation covers the surveillance during transport and installation of the
project.

The transportation and installation surveillance will be followed up by a detailed surveillance


report.

The review and verification will cover the following:

-Transport procedures

-Installation procedures

-Procedures for safe shutdown; safe emergency shutdown

-Environmental conditions concerning the limit values

-Interface points, e.g. connection to foundation

-Quality control, measurements and inspections

-Personnel safety.

Phase VI:Commissioning involves all follow-up verification and on-site inspections during the
implementation of the project for operation.
DNV GL shall perform a commissioning surveillance as part of the project certification with the
purpose to verify that the PV power plant installed on site has been commissioned according to
the requirements of the manufacturer and is in compliance with relevant documentation provided
in the design phase.

During commissioning, systems and equipment shall be checked for compliance with approved
documentation and commissioning procedures. 

Phase VII:In-service involves follow-up verification and periodical on-site inspections after start of
operation and during the subsequent in-service period.

The in-service phase implies an activity, by which the PV power plant is monitored regularly
during its operational life. DNV GL shall conduct periodical in-service surveillances in order to
confirm the validity of the project certificate and to verify that the required measures are
observed and maintained.

DNV GL surveillance shall be carried out to provide evidence as to whether the monitored
installation or parts thereof continue to comply with the approved design.

PV power plant certification, starting after the construction (post-construction):

Certification procedures for this phases are same as relevant phases described in previous
section “PV power plant certification, starting from planning phase”.

Why DNV GL

Our vast experience – DNV GL has been providing technical and engineering consultancy for
solar projects since 2003, has 10 major offices across the globe with solar experts and has
advised over 2000 solar projects globally, about 25,000MWp of solar projects as owner’s or
lender’s engineer  
Our subject matter expertise – DNV GL’s expertise in resource assessment, energy production
estimates, technology review (PV module, inverter, trackers etc.), design and engineering,
contract review, construction monitoring, performance assessment, module and inverter testing,
etc. brings unmatched domain knowledge.  

Accredited by DAkkS to provide independent certification services

Our global team – DNV GL’s global team is tightly integrated, providing global expertise as well as
local knowledge via a project team comprising of local and international experts.

Conclusion

The rapid growth of the Indian solar energy industry and growing size of PV power plants forces
the investors, financiers and developers to mitigate the risks during project phase. Project
certification of PV power plants will help to alleviate these risks and ensures a credible quality
project. By third party verification of PV installations through  project certification, the developer
can demonstrate an awareness of the risk involved and a willingness to address these risks.
Thus, PV project certification is adding significant worth for large and complex PV power plants
addressing the entire value chain.

References: -

[1]  www.gwec.net

[2]  www.pv-tech.org

[3]   http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/wcppp5/solar_pv_market

[4]  DNVGL-SE-0078, “Project certification of photovoltaic power plants”, Edition May 2015. 

- By Vinod Kumar Vericherla & Nagendra Rao Atla,DNV GL