The Clean Energy Council (CEC), Australian Solar Institute (ASI) and Australian Photovoltaic Association (APVA) have partnered to develop a climate-based solar panel performance and module rating system.
Promotional blurbs for solar panels are usually based on performance under Standard Testing Conditions (STC). Real-world conditions are often very different and this will have a marked impact on panel performance. For example, heat is a major enemy of solar modules and while two different panels might perform exactly the same under Standard Testing Conditions; on a hot day their performance can be poles apart.
“This project will produce a publicly available, high quality PV performance database containing location-specific technical, operational and performance data from representative locations across Australia,” says the CEC.
The project will be managed by APVA with funding from the CEC and ASI. Other participants will include the US National Renewable Energy Laboratories, University of NSW, CAT Projects and Murdoch University.
Choosing a solar module may be more complex for many people than anticipated as the technobabble associated with any solar panel can be very confusing for the average person.
Energy Matters says the most important points to bear in mind are:
1. Consider how the module is manufactured and the materials used.
2. Research how the panels perform in real world situations – including positive tolerance, temperature co-efficient rating and efficiency.
3. Compare the warranty details of the solar panels you are considering.
4. Learn more about the company that manufactures the panels.
The topic is also covered in Energy Matters’ free 23-page Solar Power Consumer Guide.