PVEL releases new hail test, doubles capacity with HQ move

Hail strikes a solar module during PVEL’s hail stress sequence, which is now a required test in PVEL’s PV Module Product Qualification Program (PQP).

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) has released a new hail test for its PV Module Product Qualification Programme (PQP) and has announced a move of headquarters to Napa, California that sees the independent test lab double its testing capacity.

The hail stress sequence was added to the PQP after concerns from insurers and asset owners about the ability of modules to withstand the impact of severe hail. PVEL took data from nearly 1GW of hail-damaged projects that it has evaluated as well as test results from in-lab experiments.

As of early next year, PVEL will be conducting its tests from its new headquarters in Napa, after it decided to move from its current bases in Berkeley and South San Francisco. The new facility represents 100% growth in testing over the current labs, said PVEL.

“As global installed solar capacity breaks every established record and solar PV modules are deployed to the furthest reaches of the globe, we will continue uncovering risks that can only be overcome with new data,” commented Jason Kaminsky, COO of kWh Analytics, which has provided insurance claim and asset performance data to PVEL to inform the hail test.

Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL, said the “reliability concerns of solar investors and asset owners are continually evolving” and PVEL solicited feedback from downstream players when developing its new hail test.

“As a global industry, we must consider natural catastrophes like hailstorms in the context of a changing climate,” said Kevin Christy, head of innovation and operational excellence, Americas of Lightsource BP. “It is time to futureproof solar projects around the world for new weather patterns that are difficult to predict yet impossible to ignore.”

At the start of the month, PVEL launched a crowdsourced testing programme that will work with solar investors, developers and asset owners to test inverters and does not require manufacturer participation.

The independent testing lab regularly produces module and inverter ‘Top Performer’ rankings via its reliability scorecard. Earlier this year, PV Tech spoke with PVEL’s head of PV module business Tristan Erion-Lorico about junction box failure, testing for the elements and what developers must consider when using the scorecard.

Started in 2010 in California, PVEL operated under DNV from 2014-2019. It became part of the Netherlands-based KIWA group of companies this year.