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Solar Plant Gets Int'l Certification for 1st Time in Japan (page 2)

Third-party German verification/test firm inspects system

2014/05/07 21:15
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute
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Assessment through 'documentation screening,' 'plant inspection'

The reason why West Holdings chose "Yamaguchi City Aio MS Power Plant" as the site to acquire the first authorization in Japan largely stemmed from the fact that the power producer was affiliated with West Holdings, along with the optimum timing of completion. As the on-site inspection needs the operation to temporarily stop, it is said to be difficult to implement the inspection without the power producer's permission.

The reason why it requested Germany's TUV SUD to test its system for verification was "The firm had the richest experience in the world in terms of third-party authorization of IEC62446," West Holdings said. TUV SUD has reportedly inspected and certified hundreds of solar power generation systems across the world, primarily in Europe and China thus far. Yet it was TUV SUD's first inspection of a mega-solar power plant in Japan.

"We are trying to conduct a cross-areal inspection combining the solar power generation, electrical and structural technologies from the perspective of long-term reliability of a PV power plant, rather than specializing in solar panel, PV inverter and other product areas that are specific to solar power generation," said Kiyotake Sugita, senior manager, Product Safety Group, TUV SUD Japan.

IEC62446 primarily consists of "documentation screening" and "plant inspection." The documents required for the documentation screening total 14 major items including contract documents, design documents, calculation sheets, construction plans, major components' specifications/warranties and the O&M (operation and management) manual, according to the contents of the IEC62446 documentation.

The plant inspection includes (1) electric and functional tests on an array (a circuit connecting multiple solar panels) and PV inverters, (2) electric safety tests against earth faults (leaks) and electrification, (3) checks of the completed construction, etc (Fig. 3). According to the contents of the IEC62446 documentation, five are visual examination items and seven are electric test items (Fig. 4).

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