View Full Version : Solar panels are having QC problems

02 June 2013, 1507
According to an article in my newspaper, written by Todd Woody of the LA Times, it appears that the solar panel industry is having problems with poor quality control. In the case of the panels installed on a warehouse in LA, their panels began to fail after only 2 years into their claimed 25-year life expectancy. The article says that the coating that protects the panels from moisture disintegrated and other defects caused two fires and "hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues". The article claims that those type of problems are not an isolated incident. Around the world testing labs and other stakeholders are finding that the solar panel industry is facing a quality crisis.

Conrad Burke, GM for DuPont's billion-dollar photovoltaic division says that "We need to face up to the fact that corners are being cut". Solar developer Dissingo has had "significant solar panel failures at several of its projects", according to Dave Williams, CEO of the company.

Most of the concerns over quality control are based in Chinese panel companies that appear to be outsourcing their panel assembly and materials to the lowest bidder that they can find. Chinese banks are squeezing their solar creditors to cut prices and increase profits at any cost. In March, Chinese banks forced Suntech into bankruptcy, which up until that time had been the world's biggest solar manufacturer. According to Jeny Meydbray, chief executive of PV Evolution Labs, a testing service, "Based on our testing, some manufacturers are absolutely swapping in cheap Chinese materials to save money".

SolarBuyer discovered defect rates of 5.5% to 22% during audits of 50 Chinese factories over the past 18 months. It is not just the Chinese that have been having problems, though. First Solar, one of the largest manufacturers of solar panels in the U.S. has set aside $271.2 million to cover the costs of replacing defective modules it made in 2008 and 2009.

Let's hope the industry can get their act together before solar power gets another black eye and the public loses interest in this new technology.

02 June 2013, 1721
Too bad about Suntech. I have used their panels and they have always worked well.