A Brightening Outlook for Solar Standards

After decades of promise, the solar industry may finally be heading into a decade of relative prosperity driven by the instability of fuel pricing and the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas. The industry is also moving toward using standards in manufacturing as a way to improve efficiency and drive costs down.

Solar development has gotten a lot of R&D support from governments along with sizable tax breaks over the past couple decades. They’ve helped build an infrastructure that may finally be on the verge of competing with coal-based power plants and other power sources utility companies built long ago.

The photovoltaic industry is experiencing dramatic growth. Worldwide market installations hit a record high of 5.95 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, up from 2,826 megawatts (MW) in 2007, according to the Marketbuzz 2009 report. Growth of more than 100 percent represented $37.1 billion in global revenues. Europe accounted for 82 percent of world demand, led by Spain and Germany.

Companies that see these growth rates don’t really care if the market needs tax incentives. Manufacturers are ramping up quickly. Global production of solar cells rose to 6.85 GW in 2008, roughly doubling the 3.44 GW of 2007. Thin film production also recorded solid growth, up 123 percent in 2008 to reach 0.89 GW. The cost of these cells will be a key determinant of continuing market growth, as well as the industry’s ability to survive without government incentives.

Cell production is a critical factor. In the manufactured price of a solar module, silicon wafers account for about 45 percent of the cost. That still leaves more than half the cost for other technologies such as assembly. IPC is stepping in to provide standards that will help manufacturers reduce their costs.

IPC’s Solar Assembly Committee is creating standards in four areas. Companies that make solar cells and assemblies saw the similarities to the board assembly activities that depend on IPC standards. Two of the IPC documents under development by the E-12 and E-14 standards subcommittees, provide guidelines for production.

The Solar Panel Lamination Subcommittee is writing a guideline, Acceptability Guidelines for Solar Panel Lamination, that will set acceptance standards for the lamination of glass-backside-foil solar modules with crystalline solar cells using encapsulation sheets as an adhesive material. It will include visual and other performance criteria for encapsulation sheets, glass, photovoltaic cells, ribbons, bus bars and backside foil as they relate to creating the basic laminated assembly.

The other acceptability document under development, by the E-14 subcommittee, Acceptability Criteria for Tabbing and Stringing, will provide standards for the tabbing and stringing of silicon solar cells. It will focus on solar cell and cell “string and tab” quality, while also providing interconnect and other associated quality standards. Those cells that pass these requirements will be placed as a string onto the solar panel glass and adhesive sheets.

The E-13 subcommittee will focus on a related facet of production, setting requirements for electronic grade tabbing/stringing/bussing materials used in the assembly of solar panels. This specification will define tell how to determine the acceptability of conductive materials in module assembly such as the photovoltaic interconnect ribbon and silver conductive paste.

Visual acceptance is the focus of the E-15 subcommittee, which is setting criteria for solar panel final module assemblies. This subcommittee will develop visual acceptance standards for the solar panel in final module assembly. For example, sections describing the junction boxes used in solar panels include inspection criteria for sealants and potting compounds. If they have cracking and moisture ingresses, a visual inspection quality system would help manufacturers determine acceptability.

For more information on solar standards development, contact Anthony Hilvers, IPC vice president of industry programs, at +1 847-597-2837.

IPC APEX EXPO Will Offer Information on Solar

How will electronics support the “green wave” to solar power? Learn how at a free forum on Solar Panels: New Opportunities for Electronics on Wednesday, April 7. Join expert panelists as they discuss solar technologies and opportunities. And new this year, technical conference attendees can attend a session on solar panel assembly. The session, moderated by Dongkai Shangguan of Flextronics Corporate Technology Group, will cover critical issues for solar module assembly, including technology overview, assembly process, assembly equipment, materials, certification and industry standards, process capability, quality control and more.


  1. Posted July 31, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    10 years a go solar energy wasnt going anywhere, but i have seen a big uptake in solar projects in the last 2-years. As the technoogy increases and the cost comes down, we are see pay back models coming in under less than 2 years now, and this becomes commercially viable for most busineses. From a home point of view i think that will start to catch on in the next 10 years.

  2. Posted August 1, 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    I predict there will be a gradual shift in public awareness, combined with Government incentives, that will lead to a much greater uptake of solar installations. Manufacturers will then continue to gradually reduce their production costs for solar panels and related equipment, perhaps comparable to the way home computers have become cheaper over recent decades.

    • Posted August 17, 2010 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I agree. You are absolutely correct. I found the main stumbling block is the cost of solar panels, as silicon solar cells are very expensive. I heard that giants companies like IBM is trying also taken an initiative to make solar power more affordable for us. According to this article http://bit.ly/cPJ49x.

  3. Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Here in the uk most new social housing projects are having solar panels and devices installed as standard,and the new government seem to be pushing people to solar energy.

    • Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      I wonder… do you all in the UK, in addition to having standard solar panels/devices, use solar panels for pool heating?

  4. Posted September 1, 2010 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    For so many reasons, it makes a lot of sense to increase the number of solar panels on rooftops, both of homes and businesses.

    I think the two best ways of encouraging people to invest in solar panels are net-metering, where electrical utilities are required to pay retail rates for the excess power that home and business owners put back into the grid, and solar financing, where the solar financing company installs and maintains a solar power system for the customer and only charges them for the electricity they use.

    Both of these systems give help on the financial side, which is still needed if we want to see widespread adoption of solar power.

  5. Posted October 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I still think that the most important factor, as outlined in the article, is the costs of manufacturing solar cells. We need a great breakthrough in the industry, if we really want to use solar power as the number 1 energy source.
    When there absolutely IS some advancement in the solar energy industry recently, it is not enough to power the thirsty energy demands of today’s world.

  6. solar panel plans
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure Americans are going to see more and more solar energy generated in the next several years, with dozens of projects under construction or being planned!

  7. Posted October 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Another solid article. To my understanding, Germany has mandated solar hot water systems on all new construction. Europe is now way ahead of the US in the adoption of solar therm systems and is selling their equipment to us.

    In the mid ’80s, I worked with a builder who decided to include solar energy as a standard feature in all of his homes. He ended up building seventy homes in Jacksonville, NC, about twelve homes in Rome, GA, and five or six in Chapel Hill. Each house has passive and active solar systems. The passive solar system provides space heating during the day and the active solar system provides space heating and hot water in the evening or whenever the passive was spent. Some of these homes had solar fractions as high as 80%!

    During this time, solar thermal systems were becoming accepted in the housing market as standard equipment. The market was maturing with proven technology. Unfortunately, the federal government pulled the rug out from under us by repealing the solar tax credits. Most of the marketplace collapsed as a result.

    Let’s get it right this time,
    Dr. Ben

    • Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      Some states are adapting the tax cuts again, and I know for sure Tampa, FL offers rebates to encourage solar pool heating. Hopefully this will create a rise in the amount of people that get solar pool heating.

  8. Posted November 12, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Recent confirmations on the value of solar panels have sky rocketed.

    The value of property is increased by solar panels.

    Billboards are being powered up by solar panels.

    The biggest move though will be when Authority Electric Firms allow the use of solar panels without any holds. So with the strain on our energy resources solar should take off not too long from now.

  9. Posted November 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    The high cost of solar panels is a big barrier to most people, sure the investment pays off but finding the outlay in the first instance can be a real hurdle. Allowing home owners to build their own solar panels and install them is a great way to allow entry. however the main concern I have is the that of safety as electricity is not something to be played with if you do not follow the rules.
    Great info, thanks

  10. Posted November 18, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    the incentive for the “green wave” is really worth looking at. solar energy advantages span a vast array of possibilities. Government subsidy is critical to this

  11. Posted December 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen a rapid growth for green power especially solar power. No doubt this will be the biggest thing after the invention of electricity

  12. Posted December 14, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the information with us. The solar power is considered as the important energy resource for us now and it will develop further in the future.

  13. Posted December 30, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The time is right for renewables. Society’s mindset is becoming clear to the fact that we all need to solve our energy problem together.

  14. Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    The solar power is used in so many areas that it is essential for us setting up the standard for the industry. It will help us develop the solar power better and avoid the mistakes in the future.

  15. Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    It is glad to see that we set up the standard for the usage of the solar power. It will help us develop the solar power application in the right ways to avoid the mistakes.

  16. Posted January 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    The decline in cost for solar panels is welcomed and needed if we are to achieve significant implementation of solar power for commercial and residential use. The sun produces 10 to the 27th power watts of power every second. It is a shame we can’t harness more of it to be effectively used here on earth.

    Efficiency is the key to making solar power cost effective in the future. Concentrated Photovoltaic cell (CPV) installations in Europe and elsewhere are proving to be cost effective and may also serve multiple functions simultaneously.

    For instance a CPV installation in Sweden produces electric power from a trough reflector that concentrates sunlight on a photovoltaic cell array suspended on a pipe that regulates the temperature of the cell by varying the volume of water flowing through the pipe. This has the benefit of not only producing electric power, but also hot water.

    Standards are welcomed and if extended to non commercial solar systems (home made whole house solar systems) much like electric standards, HVAC standards, or plumbing standards are today, the quality of installations are sure to improve.

    I agree with Ross (above) that people need to be made aware of the proper way to build, install and use solar power.

  17. Posted January 31, 2011 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    thanks for the nice piece of information.

  18. lucacoleman
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    It is important that we know the standard for the usage of the solar power. Otherwise, it would be a hard project for most.

  19. Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Acceptability Guidelines for Solar Panel Lamination, that will set acceptance standards for the lamination of glass-backside-foil solar modules with crystalline solar cells using encapsulation sheets as an adhesive material.

  20. Posted July 15, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    I�ve learn some good stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot attempt you place to create the sort of great informative web site.

  21. Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    I have seen a solar panel and I really don’t know to where it will use and is it really important. And I have known that this is very useful and helpful to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications.

  22. Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I have seen a solar panel and I really don’t know to where it will use and is it really important. And I have known that this is very useful and helpful to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications.

    solar panel installation nsw

One Trackback

  1. […] your still not sure, read this article about solar standards from the IPC, a global trade association in the electronics […]

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: