Building integrated PV: Despite plenty of hype, BIPV has remained a niche segment in the solar business, held back by a combination of high costs and low efficiencies. But as Ben Willis hears, the high-profile entry of Tesla on to the BIPV scene could herald the start of a new era for the sector.
All parts of the PV supply chain are under pressure to reduce costs and boost the competitiveness of solar. A new rover vehicle developed for site surveying work promises to help significantly reduce labour costs in the construction of large-scale solar projects.
Certifying the quality and performance of an entire PV array has been a notable development in the past two years. Sara ver Bruggen looks at the extent to which developers, investors and insurers are turning to plant-level certification to guarantee the design, construction quality and performance of a PV system.
In a relatively short space of time, single-axis trackers have become the mounting technology of choice in utility-scale PV plants. Danielle Ola reports on the technological and economic drivers that have fuelled their meteoric rise and look set to ensure continued growth around the world for some time to come.
Accurate forecasting is becoming increasingly important as PV penetration grows. Jan Remund of Meteotest looks at some of the recent developments in forecasting science and the work going on to improve this vital aspect of solar’s interaction with the grid.
As the solar industry gains momentum, there is an increasing need for on-site resource monitoring using pyranometers and reference cells. Peter N. Johnson of AWS Truepower introduces the technical specifications and limitations of industry-standard pyranometers and reference cells, and outlines best practices for monitoring with this equipment. How solar measurements can be used to improve resource and energy estimates for utility-scale PV projects is also discussed.
Meeting the exact delivery schedule of large-scale power plants is crucial for fulfilling customer expectations and contract specifications. Mauoro di Fiore and Maren Orgus of Hanwha Q CELLS discuss how to overcome specific local challenges to deliver large-scale power plants on time and on budget.
BIPV | Building-integrated PV has yet to live up to its promise, remaining a niche sector of the solar industry. However, as Silke Krawietz writes, European and international climate and energy goals, and a chance of reviving the European PV manufacturing industry, all offer BIPV the opportunity of becoming a mainstream technology.
Commercial rooftops | Innovations in commercial rooftop PV mounting systems are offering new possibilities for installers as they seek to drive down costs. Andy Colthorpe looks at some of the key developments that are helping breathe life into a segment that has so far been slow to take off.
Trackers | The economic argument for trackers is increasingly compelling. Matt Kisber, president and CEO of Silicon Ranch Corporation explains why the technology’s use is increasing and examines the benefits of opting for single axis tracking systems.
Irradiance measurement | Pyranometers play a crucial role in gathering irradiance data for PV yield and performance modelling. Ben Willis explores this sometimes-overlooked piece of technology
and efforts by researchers to improve our understanding of its characteristics.
Modelling | First Solar has developed an energy assessment software platform that models the electrical generation of utility-scale PV power plants. This software, called PlantPredict, is an enterprise application that streamlines and fulfils many energy simulation needs throughout the project development life cycle, from the site prospecting, through design and optimisation, and contractual commitments, to power plant monitoring. Bodo Littmann and Alex Panchula of First Solar discuss some unique models required for characterising CdTe power plant performance, and outline the PlantPredict tool’s use throughout the project development phases, with the goal of ultimately lowering the total cost of ownership of PV power plants.
Project name: Jasper solar power project; Location: Near Kimberly; Northern Cape, Province, South Africa; Capacity: 96MWp; Annual Generation: 180,000MWh.
Evidence is emerging that data used in PV yield modelling, an essential element in optimising a plant’s design and profitability, is leading to erroneous results. Ben Willis reports on the solar industry’s data challenge and how it is responding.
As PV expands its global footprint, logistics – transporting goods from factory to project site – is becoming a complicated challenge for manufacturers. Sara Ver Bruggen reports on efforts by the industry to reduce costs arising from equipment damaged in transit.