Japan wants to create solar cell durability standard - Wikimedia

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is moving to create an international standard for solar cell durability.

It's working alongside other Southeast Asian nations to establish the standard which it hopes will give the industry a clear way to identify the quality of solar cells which are made in Japan, against cheaper ones that are made in countries such as China.

According to the Ministry of Economy the problem with the latter is that they often loose their ability to  produce electricity after a few years.

The claims could be a case of bitter lemons with Japan losing its crown for the global solar cell market. In 2005, it held 47 percent of the global market, but by 2008 the figure had slipped to 14 percent, while China boosted its slice to 36 percent from seven percent.

The ministry believes that the standard will help it get one over on China. It thinks that if Japan can get its standard adopted by an international body then Japanese solar cells will become known for quality and therefore be the first place manufacturers go.

Alongside departments in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, the government organisation will begin forming a way to test the durability and longevity of solar cells, which are used in hot and humid climates. From the research, which will begin early next year, it will develop a testing standard that solar cells must pass.  

The international standard will be submitted next year to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). However, Japan's plans could be scuppered with the news that European groups are also exploring the possibility of creating competing standards. It's uncertain whether the Japanese standard will become the one adopted by the IEC.