Building Institutions for Renewable Energy Markets: Quality Assurance Testing of Solar Modules in Kenya by Arne Jacobson

amorphous silicon PV panel test results

Average Stabilized Maximum Power Output for Five Brands of 14 Watt Rated Amorphous Silicon Solar Modules Sold in Kenya. (Maximum Power at Standard Test Conditions of 1000 W/m2 and 25°C).

Renewable energy can be a pillar of a sustainable future in industrialized and developing countries alike. Over the past decade renewable energy has moved from the margins into the mainstream, as commercially viable markets have emerged in a number of countries around the world. However, the sustainability of these new markets is not guaranteed. Market institutions that ensure quality and protect consumer interests are critical to support and expand renewable energy markets.

Kenya has one of the largest markets per capita for solar electric systems among developing countries, but it has been plagued by quality problems and even fraud. For example, while many of the solar module brands sold in Kenya perform adequately, some companies have sold low quality products that produce only a fraction of their rated power output. See the graph above showing test results for five competing brands of 14 Watt rated solar modules sold in Kenya for an illustration of these problems.

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