PVTP Issue

PV Tech Power Volume 4

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For those in the utility solar business, 2015 has so far offered no shortage of landmarks. Since the start of the year, the record for the world’s largest PV power plant has been both equalled and beaten, with the completion in the US of the Desert Sunlight and Solar Star projects respectively. The industry has also notched up two important pricing milestones. In January 2015, news broke that a project in Dubai had attracted what was thought to be the lowest ever bid price for a solar project, of US$0.0585/kWh. That record proved short lived, however, when, in July, US firm First Solar revealed it had agreed to a price of US$0.0387/kWh for power from its 100MW Playa Solar 2 project in Nevada.

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In this issue...

PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers, Storage & Grids
Plant control | SCADA technology enables PV plant owners to maintain their portfolios more efficiently and respond to increasingly stringent requirements from grid operators, yet avoid information overload. Sara Ver-Bruggen looks at the state of the art in SCADA systems as PV systems and fleets grow in size.
PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers, Storage & Grids
Grid investment | An ambitious plan is being drawn up to overhaul New York’s electric grid infrastructure, an exercise that some have priced at US$30 billion. Andy Colthorpe looks at the efforts underway to ensure renewables and energy storage are a central part of bringing the state’s power system into the modern age.
PVTP Paper
Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Operations and maintenance | The distribution and growing size of PV fleets mean new approaches to plant operation and maintenance are needed. Florian Danner, Jens Kahnert and Bjarn Röse of Conergy Services outline the key ingredients for cost-effective O&M in a globalised industry.
PVTP Paper
Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
On-site testing | PV project owners are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to understand how their plants are performing in the field. Ben Willis explores how mobile testing units are emerging as an important tool in the early detection of faulty module equipment.
PVTP Paper
Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Defect assessment | DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions recently completed a five-year study of commercial crystalline silicon PV systems, amassing a wealth of new information about PV system field experience and PV module defects. Principal investigator Alexander Bradley discusses the findings, which, in addition to supporting the company’s ongoing analysis of materials performance, are expected to provide benefits across the industry. Building on the industry knowledge pool contributes towards the standardisation of performance expectations across the solar industry, enables the development of more stringent risk mitigation techniques, and helps purchasers of solar power systems make educated and informed materials assessments.
PVTP Paper
Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Power loss | The highly accurate module efficiency certified by accredited laboratories right after module production is at odds with the very rough estimate of the module’s long-term efficiency stated by the manufacturer for its expected lifetime, through a commonly accepted and industry-standard power warranty. Agustin Carretero of skytron energy presents an innovative method for calculating module degradation by using string-monitoring systems, and compares the results obtained for a case study with the module manufacturer’s power warranty statement.
PVTP Paper
Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Module performance | The potential for PV modules to fail before the end of their intended service life increases the perceived risk, and therefore the cost, of funding PV installations. While current IEC and UL certification testing standards for PV modules have helped to reduce the risk of early field (infant mortality) failures, they are by themselves insufficient for determining PV module service life. In this paper, teams from Fraunhofer CSE and Fraunhofer ISE present the results of the Fraunhofer PV Durability Initiative’s third round of testing, which now includes 10 module types.
PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers, System Integration
Power oscillation | In the last few years the power rating of PV power plants has risen very quickly to values reaching several hundred megawatts. This means there are hundreds, or even thousands, of inverters operating in parallel in these plants. Furthermore, these large-scale PV power plants are often built far away from cities and are therefore connected to the grid via long transmission lines. This leads to weak grid conditions in the power plants, and these conditions give rise to the risk of electrical instabilities within the plant, or instabilities of the plant within the grid. Roland Singer of Fraunhofer ISE explains how these electrical instabilities can be detected and counteracted.
PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers, System Integration
PV panel reflction | The increasing deployment of PV systems in dense urban areas has drawn attention to the issue of glare and the public discomfort arising from the sun’s reflection on the PV panels. Licheng Liu, Yong Sheng Khoo and Thomas Reindl of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and Julius Tan of Sunseap Energy discuss ways of fine-tuning system designs and alleviating visual discomfort, while not compromising on the energy yield of PV systems.
PVTP Paper
Design & Build, PV Tech Power Papers
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.
PVTP Paper
Design & Build, PV Tech Power Papers
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.
PVTP Paper
Design & Build, PV Tech Power Papers
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.
PVTP Paper
Financial, Legal, Professional, PV Tech Power Papers
New solar fiance | Innovation in the solar industry is not limited to labs and fabs, with some creative financial engineering increasingly proving its worth. John Parnell looks at how power purchase agreement innovation can bridge the gap between cost-competitive and ‘nearly’ cost-competitive solar.
PVTP Paper
Financial, Legal, Professional, PV Tech Power Papers
Warranties | PV module manufacturers, O&M companies, owners, insurance companies and financial stakeholders employ independent engineers (IEs) to conduct plant surveys at critical milestones, such as impending plant warranty expiration (e.g. EPC warranty), or on a periodic basis. The result of the plant survey is a status report that identifies improvement potential and, in the case of specific failures or failure indicators, their corresponding root causes. Mitigating actions are mediated by the IE with all the involved stakeholders. Bill Shisler and Matthias Heinze of TUV Rheinland describe a procedure and a sample case for identifying and investigating the performance and possible safety shortcomings of PV modules, triggered by an impending asset sale.
PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers
Utility solar | Recent years have seen huge decreases in the cost of electricity from utility PV arrays. However, with PV’s grid parity battle not yet entirely won, competition to drive out further costs is still fierce. Ben Willis looks at some of the technological evolutions that will shape the next generation of PV power plants.
PVTP Paper
Market Watch, PV Tech Power Papers
Policy | As one long-running policy saga finally draws to a close, a series of attacks on renewable energy support have offset any progress that had been made. Tom Kenning explores the latest setbacks and where the possibilities for progress may lie.
PVTP Paper
Market Watch, PV Tech Power Papers
Solar auctions | The proposed closure of the UK’s Renewable Obligation programme to solar from next March would leave the Contracts for Difference programme as the only form of support for large-scale PV. Finlay Colville looks at the prospects for an auction-based system taking off in the UK.
PVTP Paper
Market Watch, PV Tech Power Papers
Solar support policy | The UK’s solar industry has grid parity within reach, but recent proposals to cull various subsidy schemes threaten to pull the rug from beneath its feet. Liam Stoker asks whether the UK can embrace alternative forms of support to help solar achieve long-term freedom from subsidy.
PVTP Paper
Market Watch, PV Tech Power Papers
State energy policy | Acceptance of solar in the boardrooms and living rooms of America along with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan potentially put the US on the precipice of huge solar growth, but the patchwork of state solar policies remains a barrier. John Parnell and Tom Kenning look at some of the US’ leading solar states and ask what others could learn.
PVTP Paper
PV Tech Power Papers, System Integration
Covering a 1,295-hectare estate mostly of fallow farmland, the world’s largest solar plant sits in the Antelope Valley straddling two counties of California. The Solar Star project has been supplying its full 579MW of capacity to the grid since May this year and it will be announced as offi cially complete before the end of 2015. PV Tech Power explored the designs behind this mammoth installation near Rosamond, California, to investigate what key factors had to be considered when creating a solar plant that can supply electricity to more than a quarter of a million homes.

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