1.41MW Solar Plant Granted International Certification in Japan

2014/03/04 16:02
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

West Holdings Corp announced Feb 26, 2014, that a mega-solar (large-scale solar) power plant built by the company has been certified according to an international standard.

West Holdings provided EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) services for the plant and, after the completion of the plant, is responsible for operation and maintenance (O&M) of it.

The international standard is "IEC62446" of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is about the minimum requirements for shipping tests, visual tests and accompanying papers. And the examination for the certification was conducted by Tuv Sud Japan, an international third-party certification body based in Shinjyuku Ward, Tokyo.

The certified plant is a 1.41MW mega-solar plant built in Aiofutajima, Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. For the plant, West Holdings installed 250W of solar panels (5,656 panels) manufactured by LSIS Co Ltd and PV inverters manufactured by Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp (TMEIC).

The examination was done for the entire life cycle of the mega-solar plant including (1) the design of the system before completion, (2) test of the introduced facilities, (3) construction, (4) performance test of the entire completed plant, (5) systems for personnel training and O&M, etc. And even after obtaining the certification, the plant will be reviewed per annum.

Germany-based Tuv Sud has examined 8GW of entire mega-solar plants for certification, but this is the first time that Tuv Sud Japan examined a mega-solar plant in Japan.

In the US and Europe, completed mega-solar plants are traded like real estate investment trusts, and, generally, their performances are evaluated by third-party certification bodies. In Japan, there is a trend that the debt part of the cost for building a mega-solar plant is sold to institutional investors as a "project bond." And for that purpose, rating agencies evaluate solar power plants and announce their ratings.

Currently, mega-solar-related funds are being considered to be listed in the stock market in Japan. But unlike bonds, etc, there is no rating system for them. So, if their circulation and secondary markets become active in the future, certification by third parties might become popular.