Europe’s largest PV testing lab now fully IEC accredited

The largest PV testing lab in Europe is now fully CBTL-accredited (Certification Body Testing Laboratory) by the IEC – the International Electrotechnical Commission for IECEE photovoltaic products. The state-of-the-art facility is UL’s 2,100 m3 lab in Zeppelinheim (Germany) and includes 22 testing chambers, as well as several Continuous Solar Simulators and Flash Light Simulators.

The Zeppelinheim accreditation closely follows the awarding of CBTL status to UL PV Labs in Suzhou (China) and the recently expanded facility at San Jose (California, USA).

By reducing duplicate testing to obtain multiple international certifications (US, Canada, Europe, and the California Energy Commission), the CBTL scheme provides substantial advantages for manufacturers, helping them to bring their products to global markets in a more timely manner.
Heike Thomas, Business Development, UL Energy

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UL multi-phase PV Fire Research Project investigates causes and prevention

Many questions have long remained unanswered regarding PV systems involved in external fires, especially building fires. As presented at PHOTON’s Solar Terawatt-hours Conference Series in Berlin this April, UL’s on-going Photovoltaic Fire Research Project, sponsored by the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (U.S. Department of Energy), is now addressing these questions.

Existing standards, like UL1703 (modules) and UL1741 (inverters, balance of system components, and related codes), serve to prevent PV installations from causing fires due to electrical or mechanical safety issues. Based on UL 790 (fire safety), UL has recently been conducting fire test simulations to determine if and how PV modules affect roofing materials in the event of fire. An interim report concludes that rack-mounted rooftop PV modules will adversely affect the fire performance of a roof, regardless of its fire rating or the PV module. Additional work will be conducted to further examine such effects and how they might be mitigated.

The general effects identified by this research will help PV manufacturers, building contractors and fire safety officials to understand the cause of fire in roofing systems and new roofing products.

In addition, studies are underway to develop test methods addressing PV module failures due to polymer property failure. Such studies will provide further insight on materials and safety issues related to PV modules. Other recently completed studies include Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters which has resulted in the publication of Subject 1699B, an Outline of Investigation, including safety requirements for these devices.
Evelyn Butler, Director Business Strategy, UL Energy

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New partners in Spain & Japan allow faster, easier, more cost effective access to international PV markets

Newly signed “Memos of Understanding” dramatically increase the international applicability of UL testing and certification.

In Spain, UL’s new partner CENER (Centro Nacional de Energias Renovables, is a respected government research center for renewable energy development and promotion. This partnership greatly simplifies PV product testing and certification, allowing UL and CENER to provide manufacturers with services for both national and international standards at a single testing facility.

In Japan, UL has teamed up with JET (Japan Electrical Safety & Environment Technology Laboratories, To Japanese consumers and manufacturers, the JET symbol is synonymous with “safety and authority”. The new partnership ensures that fire test data obtained through JET or UL can now be submitted to the other organization for certification purposes, as long as the same basic module is used in the final products for the Japanese and the North American markets. UL is thereby now equipped with all the required competencies to evaluate PV modules within Japan.

With these and other partners, UL is working to create an integrated infrastructure of dependable safety standards for easier and faster access to PV markets around the world.
Heike Thomas, Business Development, UL Energy

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UL is developing PV AFCI standard for better arc-fault protection

PV systems are being installed worldwide in ever greater numbers. But unlike traditional electrical products, PV modules and wiring do not have an overall enclosure to contain arcs and fires resulting from component or system faults. Usually these systems are configured in high voltage series DC circuits. High voltage DC arcs are difficult to extinguish while energized, and the number of PV system fires is increasing each year.

In response, the 2011 US NEC (National Electrical Code) includes a new requirement – 690.11 Arc-Fault Circuit Protection. This clause stipulates that PV systems installed on buildings with DC sources or output circuits operating at 80 volts or greater must be protected against high voltage PV arcing faults by a Listed arc-fault circuit interrupter (PV AFCI), or equivalent Listed system components with arc-fault protection functionality.

UL worked with key industry experts, regulators and manufacturers from around the world to develop and publish the Outline of Investigation for Photovoltaic (PV) DC Arc-Fault Circuit Protection, Subject 1699B. UL is using this as the seed document for the development of the new standard ANSI UL 1699B. UL is using Subject 1699B to assist manufacturers in evaluating and certifying their PV AFCI equipment and PV systems that include PV AFCI functionality.
Tim Zgonena, Principal Engineer, UL Energy

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Government stimuli & testing advance future of EV

The electric vehicle (EV) will define the long-term future of mobility, it is only a question of time. Technological advances in the cost, safety, durability and reliability of rechargeable batteries are only one part of the equation. The macroeconomic conditions driving growth and profitability in the EV industry will greatly contribute to the speed of these advances.

In particular, the role of national governments in providing subsidies will continue to be crucial in driving the industry towards advancements in research and manufacturing, in lowering costs and in encouraging consumers to adopt electric vehicles.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT) Global Manufacturing Industry Group estimates that recent economic stimulus packages have budgeted a combined $105 billion worldwide to the development of alternative power technologies with $44 billion devoted to the development of advanced technology/electric vehicles. Government stimulus will continue to be a strong motivator in the adoption of electrical vehicles.

Economic and political factors, technological advancements and increased consumer interest make near-term adoption of EVs more likely than ever before. But if car companies wish to lower the cost of manufacturing in the long run, they will also have to consider a global supply base of battery components.

The need for global standards to evaluate safety, quality, reliability and performance will then be absolutely critical, as will independent, third-party resources to support evaluation and testing of products that meet the needs of the industry and ensure the safety of vehicles.
Priya Tabaddor, Director Business Development, UL Energy

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Visit UL at the following events

8-10 June | Munich, Germany
Intersolar Europe | Hall A3 / 116
Click here to get your free ticket and to win concert tickets

19-24 June 2011 | Seattle, USA
37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conference
Featuring UL speakers selected by the IEEE PVSC program committee to present their research papers, click here to see presentation schedule

12-14 July | San Francisco, USA
Intersolar North America
Click here to get your free ticket and to win concert tickets

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UL University Trainings

UL's Knowledge Solutions

UL University offers customized private and public training and seminars. We provide participants with valuable information already useful in the design phase of the product life cycle and imperative for fast and easy worldwide market access.

Upcoming photovoltaic compliance workshops
Are you familiar with the safety compliance requirements for photovoltaic (PV) modules and panels? Learn from UL experts by attending UL University’s workshop “Photovoltaics: Overview of UL 1703 and IEC 61730”. In this workshop, participants will learn about UL’s role in making PV products safe, review the fundamental differences between UL 1703 and IEC 61730 and will get an overview of UL certification services in relation to PV products.

For more information, including dates, locations and pricing, or to register, please visit

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Today, it is a constant challenge to find cost effective ways to test and inspect products without compromising quality. UL‘s Research & Development (R&D) Testing, Verification Testing, Inspection & Audit Services and our Retailer Services support manufacturing business operations from initial design through prototyping and into final production, while also enhancing retail supply chain quality management operations.

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