Jesus Serrano
Team Lead
TÜV Rheinland
/
View from the Top

Boost Efficiency, Reduce Risk in Renewables

By Cas Biekmann | Fri, 05/28/2021 - 11:52

Q: What role can Mexico’s energy sector play in maintaining TÜV Rheinland’s stable 1Q21 results?

A: There are many opportunities in Mexico. The country has a huge installed solar capacity of around 5GW. For our global partners, this is considered a good starting point. Our Mexico-based company provides support for solar and wind energy to Colombia, Chile and Peru. These countries have fewer projects but are developing rapidly. Mexico serves as a reference and as a basis of support for these countries as well. With our ample experience, we can provide our support and bring in our experts to any energy resource.

 

Q: Considering TÜV’s focus on solar energy, how does it add value in this area?

A: We offer various services, which take place along the entire solar project value chain. This makes TÜV a one-stop-shop when it comes to testing and certifications for solar development. This process starts with feasibility studies and technical requirements. We can accompany the client during the procurement and construction stages as well. TÜV has laboratories in China and the US that can analyze products such as photovoltaic solar systems. We also do factory audits and assessments by examining their manufacturing processes. This mainly takes place in China where almost all solar panels are made. What is more, we can support clients when these products arrive in Mexico, inspecting them and then auditing their installation. We later support the commissioning of power plants on-site and analyze PV IV curves to measure the output of the power plant. Finally, the company provides inspections using drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras. Technical documents are then reviewed before the power plant enters into commercial operation. When this happens, we support our clients when warranty dates expire and they need to understand where failures originated. Power optimization is yet another type of service the company has available.

 

Q: What are some common issues the company encounters that solar developers at times fail to consider?

A: We have encountered low-performance issues, as well as failures in specific solar modules. Clients are often unsure if their modules produce sufficient power, so we support clients with laboratory tests. Furthermore, in a country like Mexico, module degradation is often somewhat underestimated. Inverters are an occurring issue for our clients. These need to be analyzed on-site, and we do this without disrupting the power production. Sometimes, inverters develop critical issues, which can become a fire hazard. When this happens, we conduct a survey to assess what exactly happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

 

Q: Why should smaller-scale solar installations in the C&I area look to regular testing and forms of certification?

A:  We consider Distributed Generation (DG) to be an important market and we offer support there as well. Even for small PV systems we can perform drone inspections, IV curve measurements and electroluminescence tests are worth considering. Owners should be aware of potential fire hazards. We have around 1 GW of DG installed in Mexico, so it is an important and fast-growing market already.  

In the area of certification, we see installation as an issue that stands out in the Mexican market. There are many installers working on DG projects and for some of these, it is difficult to tell if they are well-prepared and qualified to do the work. Therefore, we evaluate and certify photovoltaic DG installers once they fulfill our requirements. These requirements come from the high standards TÜV applies in Germany.

 

Q: How should renewable energy companies plan to add battery storage to their installations?

A: Battery storage is already quite an important component of the energy transition around the world. Nevertheless, in Mexico there is not yet enough normative certainty for it to really take off. When local regulation is lacking or unclear, we always recommend taking into account top international standards and regulations instead. TÜV assesses installations based on such standards. Our expert teams in Germany and China have good experience in storage systems, so we can evaluate new Mexican systems and ensure reliability. As soon as Mexico begins to require more battery storage, we can be there to help the government develop regulations and private companies to implement them. For now, we believe it is still early for mass deployment.

 

Q: What milestones would you like to reach this year?

A: We would like to be a point of reference for the solar energy market in Mexico, sharing our substantial experience from countries like Germany and China. TÜV Rheinland aims to improve efficiency and reduce risks for Mexican projects. We want to be a trusted partner in the mission to increase performance through a higher energy yield, while lowering costs and reducing risks by improving safety. We are aware that the Mexican government is asking questions about renewable energy, and we think this is fine. The private sector must demonstrate that renewable energy installations are safe, perform optimally and can help Mexico’s electrical system. If storage is applied to renewable power plants, if they run optimally and at the highest efficiency and to the lowest costs, then all of these factors could help the government understand that renewable energy is a benefit to our grid and the environment.

 

Q: What role can Mexico’s energy sector play in maintaining TÜV Rheinland’s stable 1Q21 results?

A: There are many opportunities in Mexico. The country has a huge installed solar capacity of around 5GW. For our global partners, this is considered a good starting point. Our Mexico-based company provides support for solar and wind energy to Colombia, Chile and Peru. These countries have fewer projects but are developing rapidly. Mexico serves as a reference and as a basis of support for these countries as well. With our ample experience, we can provide our support and bring in our experts to any energy resource.

 

Q: Considering TÜV’s focus on solar energy, how does it add value in this area?

A: We offer various services, which take place along the entire solar project value chain. This makes TÜV a one-stop-shop when it comes to testing and certifications for solar development. This process starts with feasibility studies and technical requirements. We can accompany the client during the procurement and construction stages as well. TÜV has laboratories in China and the US that can analyze products such as photovoltaic solar systems. We also do factory audits and assessments by examining their manufacturing processes. This mainly takes place in China where almost all solar panels are made. What is more, we can support clients when these products arrive in Mexico, inspecting them and then auditing their installation. We later support the commissioning of power plants on-site and analyze PV IV curves to measure the output of the power plant. Finally, the company provides inspections using drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras. Technical documents are then reviewed before the power plant enters into commercial operation. When this happens, we support our clients when warranty dates expire and they need to understand where failures originated. Power optimization is yet another type of service the company has available.

 

Q: What are some common issues the company encounters that solar developers at times fail to consider?

A: We have encountered low-performance issues, as well as failures in specific solar modules. Clients are often unsure if their modules produce sufficient power, so we support clients with laboratory tests. Furthermore, in a country like Mexico, module degradation is often somewhat underestimated. Inverters are an occurring issue for our clients. These need to be analyzed on-site, and we do this without disrupting the power production. Sometimes, inverters develop critical issues, which can become a fire hazard. When this happens, we conduct a survey to assess what exactly happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

 

Q: Why should smaller-scale solar installations in the C&I area look to regular testing and forms of certification?

A:  We consider Distributed Generation (DG) to be an important market and we offer support there as well. Even for small PV systems we can perform drone inspections, IV curve measurements and electroluminescence tests are worth considering. Owners should be aware of potential fire hazards. We have around 1 GW of DG installed in Mexico, so it is an important and fast-growing market already.  

In the area of certification, we see installation as an issue that stands out in the Mexican market. There are many installers working on DG projects and for some of these, it is difficult to tell if they are well-prepared and qualified to do the work. Therefore, we evaluate and certify photovoltaic DG installers once they fulfill our requirements. These requirements come from the high standards TÜV applies in Germany.

 

Q: How should renewable energy companies plan to add battery storage to their installations?

A: Battery storage is already quite an important component of the energy transition around the world. Nevertheless, in Mexico there is not yet enough normative certainty for it to really take off. When local regulation is lacking or unclear, we always recommend taking into account top international standards and regulations instead. TÜV assesses installations based on such standards. Our expert teams in Germany and China have good experience in storage systems, so we can evaluate new Mexican systems and ensure reliability. As soon as Mexico begins to require more battery storage, we can be there to help the government develop regulations and private companies to implement them. For now, we believe it is still early for mass deployment.

 

Q: What milestones would you like to reach this year?

A: We would like to be a point of reference for the solar energy market in Mexico, sharing our substantial experience from countries like Germany and China. TÜV Rheinland aims to improve efficiency and reduce risks for Mexican projects. We want to be a trusted partner in the mission to increase performance through a higher energy yield, while lowering costs and reducing risks by improving safety. We are aware that the Mexican government is asking questions about renewable energy, and we think this is fine. The private sector must demonstrate that renewable energy installations are safe, perform optimally and can help Mexico’s electrical system. If storage is applied to renewable power plants, if they run optimally and at the highest efficiency and to the lowest costs, then all of these factors could help the government understand that renewable energy is a benefit to our grid and the environment.

TÜV Rheinland is a world leader in testing, certification and supply chain management services for various industries, including its Mexican focus on renewable energy. With over 35 years of experience, it specializes in testing and certification of PV modules and components, as well as independent engineering.

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst