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NORTHBROOK, Ill., July 14, 2008 -- Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a world leader in product safety testing and certification, announced today the opening of North America's largest commercially focused photovoltaic (PV) testing and certification facility in Silicon Valley.
Located in San Jose, Calif., UL's 20,000 square-foot Photovoltaic Technology Center of Excellence increases testing capacity for the renewable energy industry and will enable manufacturers to get UL-Listed PV products to market faster. The state-of-the-art lab's 14 test chambers and two solar simulators provide indoor and outdoor testing capabilities to evaluate photovoltaic modules and panels, and a wide variety of power systems accessory equipment. The facility will also offer a full portfolio of pre-certification services, including R&D and training.
"The opening of UL's PV testing facility is great news for the solar industry," said Tom Kimbis, Acting Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Program. "Increased UL testing capacity should translate into shorter cycle-times for listing solar modules; a critical component in getting solar end-products to market faster."
"Our goal is to help catalyze the growth of this vital industry by providing global market access services that complement our core expertise in safety testing and certification, said Bill Colavecchio, vice president and General Manager of UL's Global Industrial Products Sector. "In the development of this state-of-the-art facility, UL is helping facilitate increased growth in the essential energy market and serve as a partner for companies promoting broader use of alternative sources."
The global growth rate for PV products has increased 30 percent annually during the last few years, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The requirement in the National Electrical Code for PV modules to be certified to UL standards in the United States, to the Canadian Electrical Code in Canadian markets, and to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for other world markets has increased demand for PV product testing and certification services.
The decision to base the testing facility in Silicon Valley enables UL to partner with the growing community of solar start-ups and existing companies who are bringing new technology, including thin-film PV, concentrated solar power and other cell technologies, such as CIGS and CdTe, into mainstream production.
"The presence of this world-class solar testing facility further helps us realize the San Jose Green Vision. It also adds jobs and creates innovations that help us maintain our momentum in building a global leadership position in the clean tech sector," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. "The UL site will complement existing San Jose research and manufacturing facilities, and help speed the time it takes for our companies to bring new products to market."
UL is working with SolarTech, an initiative of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) to help reach as many solar product manufacturers as possible. The partnership will provide the opportunity to introduce a safety-related discipline during the early stages of product development in the PV supply chain and contribute to providing an end-to-end solution for PV companies.
"This collaborative agreement with UL opens the pipeline for new technologies in Silicon Valley and will foster innovation, create jobs and grow the industry," said Tom McCalmont, chair of SolarTech and CEO of REgrid Power.
According to Carl Guardino, president and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the new facility is further evidence that San Jose and Silicon Valley are fast becoming the epicenter for clean tech innovations. "The entrepreneurial spirit here has manifested itself to address ways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, providing an alternative to skyrocketing fuel prices and curbing climate change. It's this aggressive leadership role that is a trademark of how we push forward new ideas from here to the rest of the world," Guardino said.
UL's Photovoltaic Technology Center of Excellence is located at 2191 Zanker Rd. in North San Jose, Calif.
For more information on UL's PV services, visit: https://www.ul.com/ You can also contact UL's Customer Service representatives at +1 877-UL-HELPS.
For information on the Solar America Initiative, visit: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/index.html and Solar America Board for Codes and Standards at http://www.solarabcs.org/.
For more information on SolarTech, visit: www.solartech.org
For more information on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, visit: www.svlg.net.