Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 51

This issue covers:

Free solar PV installation industry white paper

Our new free white paper looks at the role of effective commissioning and periodic testing in ensuring that solar PV system installations remain safe and continue to operate at optimum performance.

The special document looks at the ever increasing installation of both roof top and ground mounted solar PV installations across the world and the dangers associated with any failure to properly test and evaluate systems before they are brought into service.

The briefing note considers the role of formal installation standards and the implications of safety, fitness for purpose and fire risk considerations.

Also included are details of the existing IEC 62446 standard that sets out the testing, information and customer documentation required for solar PV installations and how it can be used to establish best practice procedures for the initial and periodic electrical inspection and testing required by systems.

The paper concludes with a review of solar PV testing technology and its role in ensuring solar PV system safety and energy generation performance. The white paper is available as a free download at

UK MCS introduces new fire prevention standards

The UK’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme has announced that new fire prevention standards outlined in issue two of MCS 012 are to come into force from May 2016.

Solar PV and thermal installations will have to comply with the regulations, which relate to the resistance to spread fire between roofs of different houses.

The new standard comes after the MCS said it had recorded “radically different” responses by PV modules in fire tests, with some modules experiencing failures such as shattering of the glass coversheet and the burning of sealant material. Such failures would result in a lower fire classification.

MCS 012 also dictates that when an in-roof kit relies on a fire performance classification, it can only be applied when the kit is installed with the family or families of modules that it has previously been tested with. If not, the installed system would not be granted a classification.

The standard is to be developed in the future and the MCS has commissioned further research into the fire performance of solar panels, which it said will allow manufacturers to test and declare for each family of modules. The full MCS update on its 012 standard can be read here.


Confusion over UK solar PV figures

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is forecasting minimal growth for the sector over the next five years.

Earlier this year, DECC placed UK solar capacity at 9.55GW by 2021, equivalent to roughly 9.1TWh of generation or 2.8% of the UK’s total.

However, with the department also recently saying that total solar capacity had now reached around 8.2GW, DECC’s forecast has been met with concern, meaning just over 1.3GW of new solar PV capacity being added to the grid over the next five years – little more than half what was added in Q1 2015 alone.

However, market analyst, Solar Intelligence, claims that UK solar is already about to breach the 9GW barrier, saying that if DECC’s 2020/21 forecasts are to be believed then the government is estimating just 550MW of new solar installed in the UK over the next five years.

Finlay Colville, head of intelligence at Solar Intelligence, said “It is highly unlikely this forecast from DECC will come true, and is likely to be met by the end of the current fiscal year, ending 31 March 2016, some five years earlier than DECC's current estimate.

“Once again, it flags the problem policy makers are having in both keeping up to date with a rapidly moving sector, and also in forecasting future deployment levels.”

Full report at


North East USA has potential for commercial solar says report

The Northeast isn’t the sunniest region of the USA but nonetheless represents an enormous investment opportunity for mid-scale commercial solar, according to a new report from Wiser Capital.

The report calculates that there are more than 274,000 buildings fit to host mid-scale commercial solar in the Northeast. Assuming a system size of 350 kilowatts, the assessment finds there are more than 94,700 megawatts of potential solar installations. This untapped market translates to an investment opportunity worth approximately $67.5 billion.

Based on available roof space, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were found to represent the largest opportunity for medium-sized solar projects - making up roughly 30 percent, 19 percent and 17 percent of the market opportunity, respectively.

But roof space alone doesn’t make for a robust solar market. The report found that New York and Massachusetts have the most viable markets because of their particular cost and incentive structures.

In Massachusetts, the attractiveness of solar is helped by the state’s strong Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market and its considerably lower escalator rates for a solar PPA over historical utility cost increases. New York doesn’t have an SREC market, but solar projects do qualify for a three-year performance-based incentive.

“Many people assume that sunny states like Texas or Florida are automatically good markets for solar, but that’s simply not the case,” said Nathan Homan, executive director of Wiser Capital. “Adequate sun for solar electricity exists across the USA. The Northeast is a prime market for solar due to available commercial roof space, higher-than-average utility rates and regional incentives.”

Further details on the report are available here

Case Study: Elm EV Adopts New Test Technology

One of the UK’s leading EV charging infrastructure companies has become one of the first to utilise new test technology for fast and efficient fault finding and maintenance of charging installations.

Elm Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions has equipped its service and maintenance team with the new EV100 test instrumentation developed by Seaward for comprehensive validation testing and fault finding on all types of AC electric vehicle charging equipment.

Elm EV is a leading independent electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) company and has been responsible for over 2,000 charging point installations for private and public sector clients throughout the UK.

As well as installing and commissioning new EV charging equipment, Elm operates a team of engineers that provides maintenance and service packages, as well as fault finding diagnosis and equipment repairs to ensure that charge points remain fully functional.

When connected to the charging point, the handheld EV100 carries out all of the tests to ensure that EVSE operates correctly and safely at the time of installation and as part of any ongoing periodic maintenance schedules, in accordance with IEC 61851.

Read the full case study here

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