Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a world leader in safety testing and certification, announced today that photovoltaic modules produced by an Applied Materials SunFab Thin Film Line are the first to qualify for UL's Master Certification Program for the solar industry. The program, introduced in 2009, is an enhanced service offering with streamlined testing and certification procedures intended to help photovoltaic (PV) module and production equipment manufacturers get products to market faster.
With this qualification under the Master Certification program, Applied Materials' customers who produce modules on a SunFab production line are candidates for UL's Fast Track Certification Program. The Fast Track program allows manufacturers to greatly reduce the time and cost to certify the modules produced on their SunFab lines. The SunFab Thin Film Line, which produces one of the world's largest and most powerful solar panels available today at 5.7 square meters, is an automated, glass-in/panel-out manufacturing line for amorphous and microcrystalline silicon-based thin film PV manufacturing.
"The Master and Fast Track Programs and UL certification are critical to SunFab line customers working in the U.S. solar market, which is expected to grow from generating 400 megawatts to nearly two gigawatts of solar energy during the next two years," said Kirk Hasserjian, corporate vice president, Applied Materials. "Having an established, independent third party like UL validate the safety and performance of the SunFab line-produced modules helps our customers more rapidly take advantage of key market development opportunities. Two of our customers have already successfully certified their SunFab production line modules using the UL Fast Track Certification Program."
Customized test fixtures and equipment were designed to handle the large-sized SunFab modules. This was essential in order for the products to undergo the rigorous test sequence at UL's PV Technology Center of Excellence in San Jose, Calif. that validates the products' safety and performance is in compliance with published UL and IEC standards. Due to the large size of some of the modules, UL's PV Technology Center of Excellence is one of the few testing labs in the country that operates environmental testing chambers equipped to handle this technology. The laboratory also remains North America's most comprehensive commercial solar testing facility of its kind since its 2009 expansion.
"UL is committed to supporting the PV industry and continues to expand our solar testing capabilities to help customers meet their individual needs - large and small - as well as the demands of the growing marketplace," said Jeff Smidt, general manager and vice president of UL's Global Energy business unit. "Our recent work with Applied Materials is a perfect example of how the Master and Fast Track Certification Programs reduce project turnaround times and increase speed to market, which is vital for our customers."
UL's photovoltaic programs are able to test to both national and international standards, including UL1703, UL 61730, IEC 61215, IEC 61646 and IEC 61730. Services are available globally for markets in North America, Europe and Asia at UL's PV Technology Centers in San Jose, Calif., Zeppelinheim, Germany, Suzhou, China and later this year in Japan and India.