UL: Product Safety the Key to a Booming Solar Market

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TAIPEI, October 13, 2011 -

- Asia’s solar industry leaders exchange views at APEC workshop

UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a leading solar product safety testing and certification organization, said focusing on photovoltaic product reliability and durability would be the key to further develop Asia-Pacific’s booming green energy industry.

UL offered proactive advice on industry technologies and trade development at the APEC Workshop on Ensuring Photovoltaic (PV) Reliability and Durability, held at The Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei today, October 12.

The workshop, part of the APEC Solar Technology and Conformance Initiative meetings held in San Francisco in September, brings together solar energy leaders from across Asia to discuss the solar market’s future development.

Offering its perspective as a leading safety certification provider, UL said the Asia-Pacific region should prioritize solar products’ reliability, durability and safety, which would be conducive to enhancing the region’s PV technology reputation and helping reduce costs in the long term. Such focus would also facilitate the region’s green energy trade development and technology integration.

According to the latest market research conducted by Solarbuzz, the Asia-Pacific region’s PV manufacturing capacity will contribute to 25% of world demand in 2015, up from 11% in 2010, indicating a fast-expanding market with great potential in the region. However, as the global market demand is rapidly rising, product quality concerns and trade barriers erected by inconsistent standards adopted in different markets pose challenges.

The APEC meetings, aimed at advancing the region’s economy with a special focus on Asia’s economic development strategies, play a critical role in the region’s economic and trade development, as well as technology integration. APEC’s 21 member economies account for over 40 percent of the world’s population and the region’s economy grows at a rate faster than the world’s average. It is home to major solar energy manufacturing bases including China, Taiwan, Japan and India, reporting strong solar manufacturing capacity. As a result, how to effectively integrate the region’s technology while reducing costs at the same time, and improve the solar industry’s corporate cost structure has become the priorities for the region’s green energy development.

Attendants to the workshop include representatives from trade facilitators, such as Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and the US Department of Commerce, as well as PV-related institutions and organizations, including UL, Japan Electrical Safety and Environment Technology Laboratories (JET), Thailand’s CES Solar Cell Testing Center, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) and Korea Photovoltaic Industry Association (KOPIA). These distinguished participants offered their respective opinions and exchanged views about PV reliability and durability.

Regarding the solar industry’s future development, UL proposed at the APEC workshop that product safety is the key to expand the market. As the largest PV product exporter, Asia now faces challenges to ensure product performance, safety, reliability and durability. UL suggested that Asia-Pacific countries reach a consensus about solar product safety certification standards for governments to enact national and local regulations, and for manufacturers, sellers, consumers, insurers and relevant standard certification institutions to follow. Only when solar products’ reliability and durability are prioritized to ensure product quality and safety can the industry pursue sustainable development.

Edwin Yang, UL’s Senior Research Scientist in the US, analyzed that solar products’ reliability and durability can lead to benefits in two layers. One is to reduce risks posed to the public by poor quality products, which can prevent damages to corporate reputation and minimize company losses. The other is to facilitate the industry’s consistent development. By adopting stringent testing on reliability and durability, products’ safety cycles would be available to serve as importance reference for companies to assess investment budgets, calculate electricity unit costs and even advance the regional industry’s sustainable development.

UL opined that for the global economy, solar products’ reliability and durability would become the key indicators for investment and policy development. Not only a gatekeeper for solar product safety, UL has an even more important mission to help advance Asia-Pacific’s solar industry integration and development by establishing standards, grid testing and technology appraisal. In recent years, UL has set up solar PV labs in the US, China, Germany, Japan and India. Moreover, it has actively engaged in research and development of PV products’ accelerated aging tests in hopes of seeking the industry’s recognition on product safety and durability.

UL will continue to help raise the awareness of Asia-Pacific’s mutual prosperity among industries, governments and the academia. It will also work closely with the solar industry to advance the region’s booming PV development and tap into new energy’s huge potential in Asia.

About UL

UL is a premier global safety science company with more than 100 years of proven history. Employing more than 7,000 professionals in over 100 countries, UL is evolving the future of safety with five distinct business units — Product Safety, Environment, Life & Health, Verification and University– to meet the expanding needs of customers and the global public. For more information on UL services, visit UL.com.

Leslie Peng, +86-20-3213-1028, Leslie.Peng at ul.com

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