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India Focuses on Safety as Country Rapidly Expands Solar Capacity


October 18, 2016

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a goal in 2014 to increase solar capacity to 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, a lofty initiative as the country’s total installed solar capacity only stands at 5.8 GW today.

To meet this goal, the government is encouraging the development of utility-scale, grid-connected solar parks, and new solar power capacity additions to rooftops, canal tops and river banks across the country. With one of the fastest-growing electric markets in the world, India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) is addressing grid inadequacies through supportive regulations to increase transmission capacity and bring more renewable energy onto the grid.

Not only will this 100 GW initiative provide solar-powered street lights to remote locations, it will provide necessary energy via residential solar to more than 300 million people that currently live off the grid. Moreover, it is expected to help eliminate excess pollution from agricultural processes because farms will be able to run irrigation pumps with solar power instead of diesel fuel.

To meet this ambitious goal, ensure manufacturer compliance, and provide consumer safety, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in consultation with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has recently published a draft compulsory registration order for mandatory regulation of all solar PV systems, devices and component goods.

“Given that MNRE is mandating a regulation, UL is best placed to help customers meet the requirements of this regulation and enable access to the India PV market,” said Edvard Jensen, Director, UL Global Solar Energy.

According to the registration scheme, all solar products are to be tested for safety and performance using applicable standards in a local lab in India. Only qualified labs such as UL’s Bangalore testing facility will be able to provide testing and certification of PV modules.

No person, manufacturer or store will be able to create, sell or import goods which do not conform to the scheme or bear the standardized Mark; and manufacturers of solar PV products will have to fast-track compliance to adhere to the BIS registration scheme once it is officially mandated by the government.

“To help ensure authenticity of the Mark, BIS will require that all products tested under the scheme obtain a unique registration number,” Jensen stated. “This is similar to how the UL Mark is processed. Each product will then be catalogued in an online registry.”

To receive the BIS Mark, PV products will need to pass a variety of environmental tests to help ensure their endurance in extreme weather conditions and harsh environments such as high-intensity UV radiation, damp heat, high and low temperature cycling, high-speed winds, driving rain, simulated hail storms and humidity freeze.

“This variety of testing will verify that components are appropriately manufactured and designed with respect to the safety functions and the ability of the PV products to perform in the harsh conditions,” said Jensen.

Only after solar products have been tested by a local lab and registered by BIS will manufacturers be able to list them in the Indian market for sale.

A free UL webinar will provide additional details about the new Indian registration scheme and its requirements.