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The phrase “Tier-1 Panels” comes up frequently when discussing solar module brands. Solar manufacturers like to tout their Tier-1 rankings, and they play a vital role in marketing and selling.
Bloomberg Finance Energy News (BNEF) first introduced its tiered ranking system to help distinguish higher quality solar manufacturers from the hundreds of others in the industry. BNEF ranks module manufacturers as Tier-1 if the company supplied manufactured panels to six different projects, which have been non-recourse financed by six different banks over the past two years.
Non–recourse finance is a type of commercial lending that entitles the lender to repayment only from the profits of the project the loan is funding and not from any other assets of the borrower. Such loans are generally secured by collateral.
But what does make a Panel, Tier-1 PV module?
Several factors contribute to producing the high quality and reliable modules that solar project stakeholders want to keep using.
Robust internal quality control
Implementing robust internal quality control processes is the first step in manufacturing Tier-1 quality PV modules. This includes quality control throughout the entire production chain.
One way to go about this is for the solar company’s upstream business model to tightly control quality over every step of the manufacturing process. This starts with silicon crystallization all the way through to module deployment in the field.
With these internal quality controls in place, the manufacturer can maintain high reliability and solid module performance. These are some of the key panels characteristics that project stakeholders want for their installations.
Independent third party testing and recognition are other important aspects that help create the environment for producing Tier-1 PV modules.
For instance, two highly respected independent organizations that do this for the solar industry include PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) and DNV GL. PVEL is the leading independent lab of the downstream solar industry. Meanwhile, DNV GL operates in more than 100 countries as an accredited registrar and classification society. These two organizations know the solar industry better than anyone. Their credible third-party testing and independent product performance reviews help guide the solar industry in determining the top performers.
Standard industry warranties
When a solar manufacturer includes an industry standard warranty, it means the company stands by its products.
A solar company recognized as fully bankable stands a much better chance to still be in business for the warranty’s duration. This isn’t as much of a sure shot with solar companies that lack a similar level of bankability.
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