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Solar Plant Gets Int'l Certification for 1st Time in Japan (page 4)

Third-party German verification/test firm inspects system

2014/05/07 21:15
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Toughest task was to prepare 'required documents'

West Holdings' Araki confessed, "What troubled us the most in the effort to acquire the certification was the preparation of the required documents for screening rather than the plant inspection." Above all, it was particularly hard to prepare documents that indicate based on what standards and specifications the major components such as the solar panel and PV inverter were designed.

Yamaguchi City Aio MS Power Plant adopted Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corp's (TMEIC) PV inverter (Fig. 7). Some TMEIC products for export have acquired third-party certification of international standards, etc., but none for domestic use has acquired such certification. Accordingly, West Holdings requested TMEIC to issue a "self-declaration of conformity" on international standards and was authorized in documentation screening with this document.

At present, there is no standard for large PV inverters in Japan.

"People consider products of leading manufacturers to be good in Japan, but they cannot be trusted internationally without specifying what standard the products are based on in a written form," Araki said. "We wondered if this much was really necessary when we started approaching the third-party verification but can now understand it is necessary in the long run."

Behind the IEC62446's requirement for specifying the standards and specifications of major components lies the doubt that, should the existing specification and standard be changed in a proprietary way, a potential failure could exist even though the system were generating power as expected at the time of handover. The requirements of the documentation are aimed at making it easy to understand the design specifications even if the plant owner changes in the future.

West Holdings said it is planning to acquire IEC62446 certification at multiple mega-solar power plants and boost its employees' test skills from now. The company had constructed 87 mega-solar power plants as of the end of February 2014, and will continue to build more in the future.

"It would become difficult to maintain quality without specific rules if we aim for further expansion of the mega-solar power plant business," Araki said. "On the other hand, it would be a great advantage if we make the international standard a rule together with international certification/test companies."