First Solar became the first U.S. solar power system manufacturer to receive a third party certification from VDE Americas.
Third party certification for solar projects significantly raises the industry bar for technical bankability and risk reduction for PV power plant operators, investors and financial entities.
“This is a necessary component as manufactures move towards asset backed financing for solar projects, particularly ones that are smaller utility and commercial,” said John Sedgwick, President of VDE Americas.
Sedgwick said that as the industry moves closer to bundling solar assets for asset backed financing, a third party assessment on projects, becomes an essential “good housekeeping, seal of approval” that will help garner an appropriate ratings.
The certification means First Solar has now set a benchmark for the highest levels of quality and reliability for entire PV solar power systems.
VDE Americas, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the globally recognized certification body VDE Institute, has been involved in solar for many years. The "VDE Quality Tested" mark for PV power plants was designed by VDE together with its partner, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), a world-leading applied research institute in the field of solar energy.
The testing portfolio delivers significant advantages in four key areas: electrical and mechanical safety of the system; system performance (through a highly accurate energy yield report); proper system operation; and independent verification for investors, lenders, insurance companies and other stakeholders by highly competent and reputable independent experts.
Together with First Solar, VDE saw that the marketplace lacked real certification activity associated with solar systems as a whole, said Sedgwick. “That was perceived by the financial industry as and additional risk in investments, such as securitizations,” he said.
In June, Mercatus, a software solutions provider for the energy finance industry introduced a credit scoring system for projects in the energy industry. The platform, based on four years of due diligence and transactions with 40 of the top U.S. financial organizations, delivers FICO –like scoring to commercial solar projects, which is visible to developers and investors alike.