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Quality audit reconfirms ESTI as key global laboratory in photovoltaic measurements

May 03 2018

The European Solar Test Installation (ESTI) has been successfully audited for accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025, a quality management system for test and calibration laboratories. The auditors validated the very high level of expertise and competence of ESTI’s staff and the rigorous high quality procedures that are applied. ESTI has thus been reconfirmed amongst the top worldwide laboratories for testing and calibrating the power of solar panels and photovoltaic devices.

ESTI is a European reference laboratory located at the Joint Research Centre’s Ispra site in Italy. It has been the forefront of development of standards for electrical performance of photovoltaic products since its launch in the late 1970s.

ISO/IEC 17025 is a quality management system similar to the well-known ISO 9001, but unlike the latter it includes specific technical competence requirements (such as traceable calibration, detailed uncertainty calculations and inter-laboratory comparisons) which assure that the test, inspection and calibration data provided by the laboratory are always accurate and reliable. ESTI was the first photovoltaic test laboratory to receive the ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation worldwide in 1995.

ESTI’s accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 confirms its status as one of the top photovoltaic reference laboratory worldwide and strengthens its role as liaison and coordinator with standards organizations such as the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). This places ESTI in a unique position to ensure the rapid introduction of research results into new EU policy norms and standards.

One example of ESTI’s impact is PV-ENERATE, a joint project with European National Metrology Institutes for advanced photovoltaic energy rating. The project is very important for key European Union policy areas such as industry, climate and energy. A large increase of solar power as a source of electricity will be required to achieve the targets of the EU's 2030 Energy Strategy and the commitments made to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement; therefore new photovoltaic installations will be required in Europe, with an associated investment cost of several hundred billions. Thus, it is crucial to minimize every measurement uncertainty in the energy yield estimation and ensure that the test and calibration data are totally reliable and reproducible.