SPI 2019: PVEL and Heliolytics providing disaster response service for solar power plants

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The new service from PVEL and Heliolytics is intended to support solar asset owners and managers, operations and maintenance providers, investors and insurers prepare for and respond to such natural disasters. Image: PVEL

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) and Heliolytics have partnered to provide the first comprehensive testing and evaluation services to PV power plant owners and operators when extreme weather and other force majeure events have damaged plants. The partners are launching the service at Solar Power International in Salt Lake City.

The climate crisis has highlighted increased damage caused by stronger hurricanes and tornadoes that have also impacted critical infrastructure such as electricity generation, increasingly provided by PV power plants around the world. 

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The new service from PVEL and Heliolytics is intended to support solar asset owners and managers, operations and maintenance providers, investors and insurers prepare for and respond to such natural disasters.

“Natural disasters are on the rise as our climate changes – and so are claims for adversely affected solar projects. To empirically assess the real impact of storms on operating assets and process claims, insurance providers need new tools like Incident Response,” commented George Schulz, Vice President – Clean Energy of Argo Group US, a major provider of insurance products for solar power plants.

Rob Andrews, CEO of Heliolytics added, “Together with PVEL, we have observed widespread microcracking from hail and wind even when less than 5% of modules have broken glass. Our advanced aerial visual and thermal imaging provides 100% site coverage, and efficiently identifies regions for targeted on-the-ground EL [electroluminescence] testing.”

The on-the-ground testing is to be carried out by PVEL – both for a pre-event baseline analysis of PV power plants as well as the critical stage after a major incident occurs that can provide accurate and independent data and hands-on engineering support to transact on insurance claims and fully address system underperformance, post event, which could result in financial losses and a reduction in the useful life of the PV power plant.

Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL noted, “While months or even a few years may pass before cell cracks become hot spots and reduce system performance, it is only a matter of time before this happens.”

Thermography and EL testing will be a key part of revealing and measuring underlying faults. 

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