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Solar, Standards, Sustainability. Photovoltaic Standardization, Certification and Labelling for Thailand 1 December, 2006 Intercontinental Hotel, Bangkok – Thailand Chris Greacen, Ph.D. Palang Thai www.palangthai.org. Outline. Standards Why? Standards need to address real problems

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Solar,Standards,Sustainability

Photovoltaic Standardization, Certification and Labelling for Thailand

1 December, 2006

Intercontinental Hotel, Bangkok

– Thailand

Chris Greacen, Ph.D.

Palang Thai

www.palangthai.org


Outline

  • Standards

    • Why?

    • Standards need to address real problems

  • Thai solar home systems – BGET experience in TAK

    • Overview of Thai SHS program

    • BGET local technician trainings

    • Survey and results

    • Failure modes

    • Post warranty sustainability?


Standards

  • Who?

  • What?

  • Where?

  • When?

  • Why?

  • How?


Area of interest

Standards

Challengeswith solarPV in Thailand


Standards… why?

  • Quality

    • Standards are a way to help ensure quality

      • Equipment

      • Installations

    • quality sustainability,safety, environmental performance

    • quality  user satisfaction  long term profitability

    • Seal can communicate quality to consumers

  • Interoperability

    • “part A will work with part B"


What standards? … a cautionary note

  • Standards are important… but can be:

    • Expensive, bureaucratic, restrictive

  • Standards need to:

    • Address real problems in Thai context

    • Achieve balance between quality & cost


Addressing real problems…

  • Case study: Thai SHS in Tak Province

    • User knowledge

    • O&M

    • Installation quality

    • Inverters

    • Lights

  • Other case studies that should be considered…

    • Battery charging stations, PV water pumping, PV satellite phones, PV for rural schools, grid-connect PV, etc.


Case study: Thai SHS in Tak province

Rated 150 W, 50 Hz, 230 V Inverter /

10 A Charge controller

Rated 120 peak Watt

single crystalline PV module

AC outlet for TV or other appliances

Two 10 W

tube fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts

12 V, 125 Ah deep cycle lead-acid battery


Thai Solar Home System (SHS)

  • 290,716 households without grid connection before SHS

  • 188,995 SHS in all Thailand

  • 15,000 SHS in Tak Province

  • Thai installed PV in 2003: 6 MWp

  • SHS program adds 23 MWp!

  • Responsibility of SHS transferred from the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) to Tambon (county) governments

Tak

Source: PEA, May 2006


warranty

Existing linkages

Tax payers

$

Ministry of Interior

$

PEA

$

Installation company

SHS

End users


warranty

Missing linkages

Tax payers

$

Ministry of Interior

$

PEA

$

Installation company

SHS

End users

What happens when systems fail?

There is no feedback loop from the end users to installation company, PEA, government or taxpayers


warranty

Missing linkages

Tax payers

Question:Should a Thai PV standard include end-users training?

$

Ministry of Interior

$

PEA

$

Installation company

SHS

End users

Feedback on status of systems, failure modes, successful interventions

Warranty awareness

Self-help: local technicians + user training


SHS Warranty

  • Warranty periods

    • Complete system: 2 years

    • Solar panel: 5 years

    • Charge controller/Inverter:3 years

    • Battery: 2 years

    • Light/Ballast: 2 years

  • Very few villagers informed that there is a warranty

Question: Should a Thai PV standard require that end-users are informed about warranty terms and claims procedures?


Border Green Energy Team (BGET) SHS trainings in Tak province

  • Technician trainings in two districts

    • 3-day theory & hands-on training

    • cooperation with Tambons

  • The technicians

    • are provided with a tool box

    • get a SHS manual

      • http://www.palangthai.org/docs/TechManualThai.pdf

    • make minor repairs and system improvements

    • educate homeowners in system use & maintenance

    • help with repairs after the warranty expires

    • survey all SHS in their village cluster


BGET SHS trainings in Tak province


BGET SHS trainings in Tak province


BGET SHS trainings in Tak province

Districts in Tak province

  • Mueang Tak

  • Ban Tak

  • Sam Ngao

  • Mae Ramat

  • Tha Song Yang

  • Mae Sot

  • Phop Phra

  • Umphang

  • Wang Chao

Priority 1: 8,692 SHS

Priority 2: 3,834 SHS


BGET SHS trainings in Tak province

Trainings already performed in ten Tambons


House-to-house surveys -- interviews


House-to-house surveys -- measurements


BGET SHS status survey

  • BGET Survey based on sample of 405 systems from Tak

  • House-to-house survey conducted by technicians that passed BGET training course.


BGET SHS status survey:failure modes observed in Tak

Sample size: 405 systems in Mae Ramat Amphur & Tha Song Yang Amphur

Survey: house-to-house, interviews & measurements, between Dec 2005 and March 2006

All SHS in Tak installed by Solartron. Anecdotal evidence suggests that other provinces/other companies may have higher failure rates.


Observed failure modes - inverter

Failed inverter/charge controller (~10% of all systems surveyed).


Inverter/controller failure modes

  • Manufacturing defect?

    • FET failures (?)

    • Suspected causes

      • harmonics or voltage spikes from fluorescent ballast

      • Insufficient protection circuitry

      • Insects ? (Solartron)

  • User error

    • Attempted synchronization of 2 inverters

  • Installation-related

    • Rain damage

Question: How can standards reduce charge controller/inverter failures?


Observed failure modes - ballast

Ballast failure ~9% of systems surveyed

Question: How can standards reduce fluorescent light failures?


healthy, without sulfation

sulfated plates

Observed failure modes –battery battery failure in ~6% of systems surveyed

Question: How can standards reduce premature battery failure?


Observed failure modes – solar panel

Manufacturing defect: Missing connector (Junction Box)(rare: < 1%)

Missing

Correct


Observed failure modes – solar panel

Manufacturing defect: Diode with wrong polarity (rare: < 1%)

Correct polarity

Incorrect polarity

Question: How can standards reduce module failure?


Observed failure modes – solar panel

Installation error: Burned Diodes from Panel Reversed Polarity(rare: < 1%)


Installation error

PV installation in shady location

14:00 Saw Kre Ka village, Tha Song Yang District


Problems found during training surveys

Installation error: Bad panel locations

Question: How can standards reduce installation errors?


ISP certified installers (USA) have to know how to use a solar site selection tool like the Solar Pathfinder.


User error: bypassed controller  battery overcharge

Observed failure modes – (cascading component failure)

  • Villager bypasses broken controller and charges battery directly from PV

  • Battery over-charged. Electrolyte level drops and plates are exposed to air. Battery fails.

1

2


Thai SHS program SWOT

  • Strong features

    • Relatively big PV module – 120 watts (compared to SHS in other countries)

    • PV modules & battery work well

    • Systems are generally installed well

    • Provide useful services, appreciated

  • Weak features / challenges

    • Failure-prone inverter/controller, ballast Insufficient local capacity for O&M, repair

    • Insufficient user knowledge about system limitations, basic care, warranty

    • Villages often very remote – hard to get to (especially in rainy season)

    • Language barriers in remote areas (few speak/read/write Thai)

  • Opportunities

    • Installed solar panels represent huge investment (25,000 baht x 200,000)

    • Relatively small additional investment to make good use

  • Threats

    • Widespread SHS failures unless coordinated effort to address sustainability


Summary questions from Tak SHS case

  • Should a Thai PV standard include:

    • end-users training?

    • require that end-users are informed about warranty terms and claims procedures?

  • How can standards reduce:

    • charge controller/inverter failures?

    • fluorescent light failures?

    • premature battery failure?

    • module failure?

    • installation errors?


Can standards help ensure that PV panels produce useful electricity for a long time...

... rather than being used for other purposes?


Chris Greacen

[email protected]

www.palangthai.org

www.bget.org


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