What’s a tier one solar module?
The term tier 1 is often used, with total freedom, as a seal of quality for a solar module, but it is actually not correct to use it directly as such.
The rating scale (tier 1) is used by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Corporation (BNEF) in order to rate manufacturers according to their capacity and financial stability; not directly the quality of their products.
BNEF defines as tier 1 manufacturers: ‘those that have supplied products for five projects and have been financed using five different banks in the last two years’.
That said, and as a bank would not finance large-scale projects with an average value of USD 200 million if their products fail, as a result the solar modules of tier 1 manufacturers are of high quality, or otherwise solar modules designed and produced to generate energy, with the least degradation, over their lifespan of around 25 years.
Another of BNEF’s selection criteria the tier 1 ranking, by which it can be assumed that the quality of a manufacturer’s modules will be higher than the others, is the fact that only companies with their own production capacity are considered, controlling the manufacturing quality of their products in a more rigid way.
On the other hand, these companies, which produce themselves, also invest more in research and development, which allows them to obtain a competitive advantage over other manufacturers (for example greater efficiency), increasing their sales and margins, improving their ranking, making their modules “bankable”.