Digitalisation the enabler for utility-scale solar to shift gear in years to come

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
Image: Lightsource BP.

Greater digitisation will be a pivotal enabler for the utility-scale solar sector as it looks to deploy hundreds of gigawatts each year, Lightsource bp group COO Ann Davies has said.

In an exclusive interview with PV Tech, Davies – who joined the company from oil and gas major bp in September – said that the adoption of digitalised approaches throughout solar’s development cycle would be critical and could become a “real differentiator for growth” as the industry looks to upscale.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

After a pandemic-stricken 2020, it’s widely expected that utility-scale solar deployment will surge in 2021 and beyond. The International Energy Agency, which crowned solar as the “new king” of electricity markets in October, last week said up to 117GW of solar could be installed next year, rising to as much as 140GW in 2022.

However these estimates are being billed as conservative by the solar sector, and PV Tech publisher Solar Media’s in-house market research team expect – pending the availability of raw materials such as polysilicon – production capacities from module manufacturers to reach 140GW this year.

Solar project developers are standing in wait to capitalise on this forecasted growth, with many racking up gigawatt-strong portfolios that span multiple continents. Lightsource bp is no different, having grown its own internal pipeline to more than 16GW.

These kinds of numbers represent considerable growth for developers, and Davies believes digital technologies and processes will need to be adopted in order to drive that kind of growth, ensuring developers have the right systems and data in place to make better-informed decisions in relation to project development.

“And taking that a step further, how we use data and artificial intelligence – when appropriate – to automate some of our processes and systems, which frees up the organisation to be more agile. It’s easier to be agile in a small company, but with growth you need to really protect that agility,” Davies said.

While solar PV, which remains relatively nascent as a major player in global power markets, is well versed in such approaches, there are improvements to be made.

“I think what we've got today is not bad, but I think that there's more that can be done. So how do we get higher availability, higher reliability? How do we get more efficient, agile project management?”

“It's an enabler, and I think it's an important enabler for large growth. And this is where the BP relationship can help us [Lightsource bp]. BP has put digital at the forefront of its strategy and its agenda, and we want to ride that wave as well,” Davies said.

More from this interview with Ann Davies will be included in the forthcoming December 2020 episode of the Solar Media Podcast. You can listen to the most recent episode here, or visit the back catalogue of episodes here.

22 October 2024
New York, USA
Returning for its 11th edition, Solar and Storage Finance USA Summit remains the annual event where decision-makers at the forefront of solar and storage projects across the United States and capital converge. Featuring the most active solar and storage transactors, join us for a packed two-days of deal-making, learning and networking.

Read Next

June 19, 2024
Global grid capacity needs to grow 2.5 times its current size, and annual expenditure on grids must more than double to US$970 billion by 2050, according to a new report from DNV.
Sponsored
June 17, 2024
At SNEC 2024, PV Tech spoke with Bruce Wang of Leapting Technology about the potential for processes such as automation in the PV sector.
June 3, 2024
FTC Solar has launched its Automated Hail Stow Solution, an automated programme to stow PV modules ahead of hailstorms.
May 29, 2024
As the unexpected happens, accurate forecasting becomes a vital tool to sustain grid operations, writes Tigo Energy's Evgeny Finkel.
May 3, 2024
Italian solar manufacturing machinery producer Ecoprogetti has installed a new, 250MW automated production line at a facility in Bulgaria.
April 29, 2024
Solar developer Lightsource bp has secured €315.34 million (US$337.5 million) for a 560MWp solar PV project in Greece.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Solar Media Events
October 15, 2024
Santiago, Chile