Quality Assurance Update: June 2018

Reflections from the GOGLA Member Conference

A few members of the QA team attended GOGLA’s annual member conference in Amsterdam in late May. We had a number of good discussions with industry representatives and others—both inside and outside the conference sessions—and would like to share with you a few observations.
In the Technology Working Group meeting, we presented data on the failure rates for renewal (AR) testing and market entry (QTM) testing. We noted that a number of products have experienced failures—which are generally corrected once identified—associated with the presentation of information on the product packaging and other consumer-facing information. We speculate that some instances of non-compliance may be due to internal disconnects within some producer companies; for example, technical staff who understand the quality standards may not be relaying the consumer-facing information requirements to their marketing departments. To help remedy the situation, we are looking into producing and disseminating a document that explains in simple terms each aspect of the standards that needs to be addressed when creating consumer-facing materials.
GOGLA organized an excellent session to start the process of forming an industry vision for quality assurance for the off-grid solar sector. We heard appreciation for the role that the QA program plays in the sector and there is a strong desire for harmonized national standards that succeed in keeping low-quality products out of markets. There was also recognition that the QA program needs to adapt to keep up with rapid innovation in the market. To address this, the boundaries of the existing QA program are being stretched, with increasing interest in products above 350 W peak, component-based solar home systems, appliances, and productive uses. We are open to changes—both large and small—and look forward to seeing an industry vision for QA documented in a white paper in the coming months.
We also participated in discussions about GOGLA’s plans to develop a consumer protection code of conduct for the off-grid solar sector. We were encouraged to see that the industry intends to cover many aspects of the consumer experience, including product quality and after-sales service. This is something the QA team will follow closely as the code of conduct takes shape.