Living up to the Standard: Industry Conference on Quality in Solar Energy

News – January 25, 2024 | Sarah Hommel de Mendonça

Industry representatives at the Solar Quality Summit 2024 in Barcelona, which was organized by Intersolar Europe together with the European solar association SolarPower Europe , were in agreement that quality must be a hallmark of solar energy. The tremendous growth of the market in recent years and the continued positive forecasts for the coming years were evident at the industry conference.

“Quality is when you get it right, even when no-one is watching,” said Stefan Veit from TÜV Süd Industrie Service GmbH, describing the conundrum that often underlies the quality of solar projects. The panel discussion at the opening session of the Solar Quality Summit discussed how the mindset has shifted from quantity to quality as the solar industry has matured. “We are not looking for the lowest price, but for long-term business relationships and quality products,” explained Erik Lohse from ENERPARC AG.

It was the second time that the Solar Quality summit brought together around 300 solar experts, mainly from the fields of project development/ EPC, operation and maintenance (O&M), asset management and financing in Barcelona. The two-day conference provided an opportunity to share a wide range of ideas during the discussion rounds, which covered topics such as the use of digital technologies, the circular economy and sustainability in solar energy.

Electricity grids were also a much-discussed topic at the Solar Quality Summit. Speakers gave impactful presentations on how storage systems can boost the financial value of stand-alone solar systems in the future and relieve the burden on the grids. The experts also discussed repowering and revamping – the question of what to do with solar modules that have completed their first life cycle and are eligible for reuse or recycling.

“Overhauling repairable modules should not just be an option; it should be a must,"” Dr. Guillermo Oviedo Hernández from BayWa r.e. Operation Services S.r.l. said during the panel discussion. On this topic, SolarPower Europe presented their new End-of-Life Management: Best Practice Guidelines.

Artificial intelligence is now a reality in solar energy, and the opportunities offered by the new technology were hotly debated at the Solar Quality Summit. Processing large volumes of data is particularly useful in the O&M sector, where it can enable predictive maintenance and automated fault analysis. There were some concerns about sharing internal company data and the standardization of data for AI.

Speakers illustrated that a holistic approach, from product development and operation to dismantling and recycling solar projects, is a basic requirement for good quality management. The conference highlighted the various aspects of the project cycle and the challenges of the new age of quality in solar energy.

The Solar Quality Summit will take place in Barcelona again in 2025.

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