In mid-2012, Schüco said it would discontinue the production of its thin film solar modules in Osterweddingen, Germany. Just under two years later, it sold its PV business to Viessmann.
Now in the spring of 2022, Schüco has had to publish a precautionary “product safety warning.” During the “active and passive product monitoring obligation” it has been determined that solar modules delivered between 2010 and 2012 may be affected by a technical fault, Schüco says. The fault is due to a polyamide backsheet, which could lead to defective solar modules.
“Since ensuring product safety is our top priority, we always take all necessary measures to ensure that neither a buyer nor an uninvolved third party comes to harm when using the products we manufacture,” reads the warning letter.
It continues, “Schüco has determined, as a result of field incidents, that a certain type of polyamide backsheet from a specific manufacturer can develop failure patterns that can result in cracks in the backsheet. As a result, the potential hazard resulting from the failure pattern depends on the material, location and type of installation, as well as other factors.”
Under certain external influences, a danger to life and limb because of electric shock cannot be ruled out, the manufacturer warns. Thus, parts of PV systems potentially affected by the fault should not be touched under any circumstances without protective measures.
So far, there have been no reports of damage, a spokesman told pv magazine. And Schüco naturally wants it to stay that way. The first thing it must do now is to find out how many of the solar modules with possibly defective backsheets are still installed in PV systems worldwide. These should be secured against unauthorized access and replaced in the event of a sustained reduction in performance, the spokesman continued.
PV system operators may locate affected solar modules by means of their serial numbers. Faulty modules will have a “0” in their 11th digit, Schüco said. In the warning, the company also provided further concrete instructions for action if faulty modules are detected.
Under no circumstances should the solar modules, plugs, wiring, or parts of the substructure be touched without protective measures against electric shock. Specialized personnel should be informed about the potential dangers. They should then uninstall the solar modules and dispose of them in accordance with legal requirements.