Intertek Illuminates A Quicker Path To Certification - And Revenue - For Solar Panel Manufacturers

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Multiple Facilities, Technical Expertise, Superior Processes and Ongoing Access to Project Status and Staff Enable Faster Time to Market

Some tests must be layered on top of one another in a serial (i.e., sequential) process

Advancing technology, increasing demand and government incentives are giving rise to a heavy influx of new and improved photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. That current slows to a trickle, however, when these advances get stuck in a bottleneck awaiting the necessary certification to go to market. As their innovations sit idle, manufacturers miss out on critical revenue. And right now, many are more eager than ever to get to market and capitalize on the government incentives being offered to adopt solar energy.

Intertek, (LSE: ITRK), a global leader in testing, inspection and certification services, has created a way to minimize the time it takes for solar panel manufacturers to have their products approved for sale. The company's enhanced program combines strategic geography - including two full-scale PV testing laboratories that can initiate projects in as little as two weeks - superior processes that establish the ability to conduct certain tests simultaneously, and experienced project management staff dedicated to each client to shorten the length of time to certification and more importantly, revenue.

Intertek is one of only three OSHA-approved Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) in the United States accredited to test photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, and the exclusive source of the ETL Listed Mark, the fastest-growing safety certification mark in North America. As panel producers realize they have a choice in who tests their products against the UL 1703 standard, they're seeing Intertek as a company that can significantly shorten the time between making and profiting from technological breakthroughs. What that also means, explains Saranpal "Sunny" Rai, Program Director at Intertek, is that homeowners, builders and others driving demand for alternative energy solutions can get the most efficient, effective technology available, because new products reach the market closer to when they're developed, not after languishing in limbo for months awaiting approval.

"There's a misperception that solar panels or modules have to be certified or listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to be sold in the United States," says Rai. "That's because UL publishes the standard written by the industry experts and, consequently, the standard carries UL's name. The fact is, panels must be certified to meet that national standard by an NRTL, and our labs are equally accredited and accepted to do that. The difference is, we can get started on the testing process sooner and help manufacturers get to market faster."

Intertek operates its own labs in Lake Forest, Calif., and Shanghai, China, and maintains a partnership with Photovoltaic Institute in Berlin, Germany. The combination affords extensive access to facilities that are fully equipped with simulators, environmental chambers and other testing equipment. In each facility, PV panels are subjected to extreme conditions likely surpassing those they will endure once installed on buildings and in solar power farms. The company alsorecently doubled its capacity for testing PV modules in Lake Forest through a subcontract agreement, and is in the process of buying new chambers and other equipment to further expand that lab. In addition, Intertek maintains a worldwide network of labs that can simultaneously run other required tests on PV panels to complete the overall evaluation sooner.

Rai points out that more than simply having greater capacity than the other testing companies, Intertek has refined its process to allow for parallel testing, ensuring continual progress toward test completion. "Some tests must be layered on top of one another in a serial (i.e., sequential) process," he explains. While these are underway, we can conduct other tests on separate panels, and issues arising in one area will not hamper the entire process."

Timely Critical Feedback Avoids Wasted Time
In working with other testing organizations, manufacturers often ship off their product and, until they receive their results, remain unaware of how far along their product is in the process, or how well it is doing. Conversely, Intertek's customers are often invited on-site to observe the tests and be on-hand should any questions or issues arise. They also gain 24/7 access to My TestCentral, an online project management tracking system that lets them log in remotely to track the progress of their product's evaluation.

"As a publicly traded company, we understand what it means to gain an extra month or two to sell your product. We see ourselves as a partner to our customers, helping them to get their products into the market faster."

With hundreds of producers around the world who want to sell their products in the United States, more arriving on the scene daily, and increasing demand from the public and private sector, the solar panel market is exploding. That's a big plus on a global scale, Rai says, as it is pushing the alternative energy market closer and closer to optimal efficiency. As Intertek helps more of these manufacturers breaking though the certification bottleneck, he adds, energy endusers will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

"Obviously, it's much better to have the latest technologies installed on our buildings than sitting in a test lab," Rai says, "and we're proud to be helping them reach the market and answer the rising demand for cleaner, renewable energy solutions."

Roy Strunin
Senior Marketing Manager
Telephone: 978-263-2662

About Intertek
Intertek is a leading provider of quality and safety solutions serving a wide range of industries around the world. From auditing and inspection, to testing, quality assurance and certification, Intertek people are dedicated to adding value to customers' products and processes, supporting their success in the global marketplace.

Intertek has the expertise, resources and global reach to support its customers through its network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and over 23,000 people in more than 100 countries around the world.

For further information, visit


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