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Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the product safety testing and certification organization, has opened a commercially focused photovoltaic (PV) testing and certification facility.
UL's 20,000 square-foot Photovoltaic Technology Center of Excellence in San Jose, Calif., increases testing capacity for the renewable-energy industry. It will enable manufacturers to get UL-listed PV products to market faster.
The lab's 14 test chambers and two solar simulators provide indoor and outdoor testing capabilities to evaluate photovoltaic modules and panels and a variety of accessory equipment for power systems. The facility also will offer pre-certification services, including research and development and training.
The global growth rate for PV products has increased 30 percent annually during the last few years, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The requirement in the National Electrical Code for PV modules to be certified to UL standards in the United States has increased demand for PV product testing and certification services.
The decision to base the testing facility in Silicon Valley enables UL to partner with the growing community of solar start-ups and existing companies bringing new technology, including thin-film PV, concentrated solar power and other cell technologies, into mainstream production.
UL is working with SolarTech, an initiative of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, to help reach as many solar-product manufacturers as possible. The partnership will provide the opportunity to introduce a safety-related discipline during the early stages of product development in the PV supply chain and contribute to providing an end-to-end solution for PV companies.