Why CHEAP is expensive
As a new industry, everybody is still learning about LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy) and the perils of investing in CHEAP.
In most cases locally, the competitive advantage for a solar PV system is considered by comparing cost only. The bulk of consumers do not consider quality as an option, but simply price. New terminology coupled with new technology and a customer base with little or no knowledge of the products being purchased, has resulted in the cheapest quote often being considered as the best option.
The two images shown below were taken at brand new solar PV systems (less than 1 year old) installed in Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape. The cells looked like this when the modules were installed, i.e. PV modules containing cells that had visible cracks, were actually installed!!
Profit margins on product sales are sliced paper thin and this has forced quite a few distributors “hunting gold” to import substandard products in an effort to remain competitive whilst trying to secure a good profit on a product considered to be a commodity. Commodities generally do not have very large profit margins. Distributors then simply blame uninformed contractors for module failures in the field and contractors are not given an opportunity to return damaged goods(through no fault of their own) for credit. Lack of knowledge of both the consumer and contractor combined is steering the sector to the point where an increase in solar equipment repairs and replacements are imminent.
If your modules are showing signs of possible product failure, DuPont’s FREE platform allows for a quick visual assessment of cell and module failures including the possible root cause and long term impact on the system.
In order to promote knowledge in the sector, PQRS has also developed a FREE on-line test where consumers can have their contractor’s knowledge tested and reduce the risk associated with solar PV installations by ensuring knowledgeable installers and contractors.
If you need to have a slightly more comprehensive assessment of your solar PV system, the next step would be to contact a contractor. By using the P4 platform the risk is reduced as all names that appear on the site has already passed an online knowledge assessment.