Plant Performance

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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.
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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.
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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.
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Plant defects | To ensure profitability in PV power plant investments it is crucial to minimise operation risks in the early stages of project development and during planning, installation and commissioning. Potential performance losses and the economic risks due to failures in plant design, employed components and construction must be considered, as Willi Vaaßen of TÜV Rheinland explains.
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Plant inspection | Infrared cameras mounted on drones offer a means of detecting instances of equipment malfunction in PV power plants. Claudia Buerhop-Lutz explains some of the faults such an approach can help reveal.
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Aerial monitoring | With PV projects growing larger and fleets more dispersed, new technologies are emerging to assist plant managers look after their assets. Tom Kenning looks at the growing use of solar drones and robots in plant operations.
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Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Maximising production from a PV system is critical, since nearly all of the investment is made prior to system activation. Monitoring of PV systems allows operators to identify any performance or safety problems early so that they can be repaired quickly, thus minimising energy losses. Joshua Stein of Sandia National Laboratories and Mike Green of M.G. Lightning Electrical Engineering discuss some new monitoring strategies that are necessary for expeditiously identifying and locating system faults.
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As early as 2010, Phoenix Solar along with Saudi Aramco installed the first of three PV test facilities in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, putting four different module technologies (monocrystalline, amorphous-microcrystalline, CdTe and CIS) to the test in extreme climatic conditions. Klaus Friedl of Phoenix Solar LLC shares some hints and lessons learned from the tests.
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The effective operation and maintenance of large PV power plants is critical to ensuring these facilities perform optimally. Sara Ver-Bruggen looks at the latest O&M technologies and strategies emerging as plant owners seek to maximise their investment returns.
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Plant Performance, PV Tech Power Papers
Maximising production from a PV system is critical, since nearly all of the investment is made prior to system activation. Monitoring of PV systems allows operators to identify any performance or safety problems early so that they can be repaired quickly, thus minimising energy losses. Joshua Stein of Sandia National Laboratories and Mike Green of M.G. Lightning Electrical Engineering discuss some new monitoring strategies that are necessary for expeditiously identifying and locating system faults.

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