The BBA and Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin Present New Rating Report Service For Solar Power Plants

Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin (PI Berlin) and British certification body the BBA are unveiling a new inspection process for solar power plants at the Solar Energy UK exhibition.

The PQ Rating provides a rapid overview of the strengths and weaknesses of PV power plants, supporting stakeholders – including investors – on the secondary PV market to make acquisition decisions, and providing sellers with plant inspection reports to improve their sales prospects. The PQ Rating facilitates the decision-making process by evaluating projects on a scale of one to ten and by providing both a detailed report and a chart-based summary.  

“In the UK, existing PV power plants frequently change owners. However, investors are only willing to commit money and banks only agree to refinance projects if they have technical assurance of a plant’s quality. This is why we have joined forces with the renowned PI Berlin to develop a rating system to give buyers and lenders peace of mind,” explains Claire Curtis-Thomas, Chief Executive at the BBA, one of the UK’s leading certification bodies. “Since the aim of our inspection report is to make the lives of decision-makers as easy as possible, the document opens with a comprehensive two-page overview. In less than a minute, prospective buyers and lenders can see how promising or risky the solar power plant in question really is.” The experts compile the summary by analysing project documentation and performing an on-site assessment of the plant based on more than 1,300 test criteria.

New PQ Rating process – performance beyond compliance

The PQ Rating, which is short for Photovoltaic Plant – Performance and Quality Inspection, is particularly suitable for large-scale PV power plants with outputs of 1 megawatt (MW) or more. The expert report awards points for each of the parameters being inspected, which range from the quality of the contractual agreements, the plant layout and installation, to the module quality and overall performance. Assigned different weightings, these points are used to calculate a rating of between one and ten, which places the power plant into one of three classes. If the PV project scores less than the minimum threshold, the experts classify it as carrying too much risk. The process differs from that of other expert reports by including commercially relevant aspects also, and by rating performance beyond simple compliance.

Claire Curtis-Thomas adds “The BBA and PI Berlin have exceptional synergy in this area, and we are excited to offer this unique new product”.

“With the BBA, we have found a first-class partner for the British market. Whilst the BBA has strong brand recognition and a well-established reputation for providing inspection and certification services in the UK, we have brought our long-standing experience in large-scale PV power plants to the table,” comments Steven Xuereb, Head of the PV Systems Business Unit at PI Berlin. PI Berlin was co-founded by Dr Paul Grunow, who also helped establish photovoltaics manufacturer Q-Cells. “Our interdisciplinary team has many years of experience in the solar industry. Since we have our own accredited laboratory for testing solar modules and, unlike many other consultants, also conduct research in the field of photovoltaics, banks regularly draw on our knowledge,” adds Xuereb. PI Berlin has already provided support for projects with a total rated output of over two gigawatts (GW) worldwide.


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