XC90 V8 starting issues - alternator? (but I want to be sure before dropping $grands)

Had our 2007 XC90 V8 for 18 months now, noticed starting was weak when we bought it but was told it had already had a new battery a few months earlier which seemed to be borne out by evidence provided. Starting remained sluggish but always did start for many months, and experimenting with jump starters or pulling battery out and fully charging it overnight seemed to provide much more enthusiastic turnover which lasted for a few days then dropped back to reluctant.

I took the battery to be tested and it came up with a clean bill of health (even from the battery store who obviously would prefer to sell me a new one) and I have tried swapping over with a battery from another car which has no issues - same result.

It has now let me down a few times - randomly seems to drop voltage down into the 11s and then not start, then after jumpstarting and driving 5 minutes home, test with multimeter and its up over 12.5. Have also tested with multimeter while car is running, randomly sometimes get 13.5v other times get between 12.2 and 12.6. Also extremely rarely get any error messages unless the battery has dropped right down low and then its a random grab bag of all kinds of stuff which goes away once charged up again.

I know alternator is a known issue with these models, and have no issue biting the bullet and replacing it - but Im wondering if there could be any other issues that could explain these symptoms, or any other tests or troubleshooting I could do to make myself more certain that the alternator is the issue?

Also if I go down the replacement route, anything else I should look at while its pulled apart given it sounds like its almost an engine out job? What about this cooling ducting to the alternator Ive read about?

Many thanks for your help and advice in advance!

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