New Lab Planned to Step Up Solar Certifications

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) said it will build a state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) testing and certification facility in Silicon Valley.

The multi-million dollar investment to build a 16,000-square-foot facility is intended to increase testing capacity for the renewable energy industry and get UL-Listed PV products to market faster. UL said it plans to begin construction in early 2008, expects to hire approximately 25 technicians and staff over the next five years and will offer a full portfolio of pre-certification services, including research and development and training.

"The construction of a UL PV testing facility is great news for the solar industry. Increased UL testing capacity should translate into shorter cycle-times for listing solar modules; a critical component in getting solar end-products to market faster," said Tom Kimbis, acting program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Program.

Bill Colavecchio, vice president and general manager of UL's Global Industrial Products Sector, stated: "UL recognizes that renewable energy is an important growth area and fully intends to provide global market access services that complement our core expertise in safety testing and certification."

The global growth rate for PV products has increased to 30 percent annually during the last few years, according to Worldwatch. The requirement for PV modules to be listed to UL standards in U.S. and Canadian markets, as well as to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards, has increased demand for product testing and certification services.

The decision to base the testing facility in Silicon Valley enables UL to partner with the growing community of solar start-ups and existing companies that are bringing new technology, including thin-film PV, concentrated solar power and other cell technologies, such as CIGS and CdTe, into mainstream production.

UL is working with The Silicon Valley Leadership Group on its SolarTech Initiative to help reach as many solar product manufacturers as possible. The partnership will provide the opportunity for introduction of a safety-related discipline during the early stages of product development in the PV supply-chain and contribute to providing an end-to-end solution for PV companies.

For more information on UL's PV services, visit

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