Bringing the factory floor to solar plant construction

Construction | Automated systems to speed up the construction of PV power plants have become a key tool in building bigger and cheaper projects. Sara Verbruggen looks at some of the state-of-art technologies helping the industry drive down system costs

Optimising commercial rooftop PV

By Andrew Hancock, Andrew Hancock graduated from Reading University in 2007 with an MSc in renewable energy, technology and sustainability.; Kirsty Berry, Kirsty Berry has a masters in engineering from Manchester University and Technische Universitat Berlin and a MSc in renewable systems technology from Loughborough University.

System design | Despite the decline of subsidies in the UK, well designed commercial PV systems still offer potentially attractive financial benefits to businesses. Kirsty Berry and Andrew Hancock of Syzygy Renewables detail some of the key considerations in designing and executing a commercial solar system that will deliver maximum return on investment.

Taking PV design software to the next level

System design | As PV projects get bigger and more complex, plant design programs are rising to the challenge. Sara Verbruggen looks at how some of the latest innovations in design software are helping developers win the competitiveness game

Understanding the energy yield of PV modules

By Markus Schweiger, Markus Schweiger received the diploma in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Munich and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in photovoltaics at the RWTH Aachen University. Since 2009 he has been working as a scientist and project engineer in the Solar Innovation Department at TÜV Rheinland.; Werner Herrmann, Werner Herrmann studied physics at the Technical University of Aachen and holds a PhD in PV power characterisation with solar simulators. Since 1988 he has been working at TÜV Rheinland, and has gained more than 20 years’ experience in developing standards for the PV industry.; Christos Monokroussos, Christos Monokroussos is a technical expert for TÜV Rheinland, where his activities focus on R&D, characterisation of solar cells and PV modules, quality control of measurement systems, standardisation progress and PV module reliability.; Uwe Rau, Uwe Rau studied physics at the University of Tübingen, Germany, and at Claude Bernard University Lyon, France. He received his diploma in 1987 and his Ph.D. in 1991 in physics from the University of Tübingen, and also earned his habilitation degree in experimental physics in 2002 from the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Since 2007 he has been the director of the Institute for Energy and Climate Research at Forschungszentrum Jülich, and is a professor at RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Module yield | Varying climatic conditions across markets and the individual characteristics of PV technologies undermine accurate predictions of module energy yield using conventional methods. Markus Schweiger, Werner Herrmann, Christos Monokroussos and Uwe Rau describe how a calculation of module performance ratio can be used to accurately assess the efficiency of different PV module technologies in different climates and thus the likely return on investment from a project.

Understanding the energy yield of PV modules

By Markus Schweiger, TÜV Rheinland; Werner Herrmann, TÜV Rheinland; Christos Monokroussos, TÜV Rheinland; Uwe Rau, The Institute for Energy and Climate Research

Varying climatic conditions across markets and the individual characteristics of PV technologies undermine accurate predictions of module energy yield using conventional methods. Markus Schweiger, Werner Herrmann, Christos Monokroussos and Uwe Rau describe how a calculation of module performance ratio can be used to accurately assess the efficiency of different PV module technologies in different climates and thus the likely return on investment from a project

In pursuit of accurate irradiance measurements Part 2: Sensors and beyond

By Anton Driesse, Anton Driesse is a seasoned independent consultant to the photovoltaics industry. Through his company PV Performance Labs he helps clients in Europe and North America gain deeper insights into performance through measurement, data analysis and modelling. He maintains strong links to the research community through collaborative work, such as the PVSENSOR project he leads, and through activities with organisations such as IEEE, ASTM, IEA PVPS.; Joshua Stein, Joshua Stein is a distinguished member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, and works in the area of PV and grid integration. He currently develops and validates models of solar irradiance, PV system performance, reliability, and PV interactions with the grid. Joshua leads the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative at Sandia and is a member of the IEA PVPS Task 13 Working Group on PV performance and reliability.

Resource assessment | Irradiance sensors are vital tools for protecting investment in valuable solar power plants and ensuring they perform optimally. In the second of two articles on a major study they are leading to better understand these diminutive components, Anton Driesse and Joshua Stein discuss how inaccuracies in irradiance measurement can be quantified and managed.

Designs on quality O&M

By Emanuele Tacchino, Emanuele Tacchino is a business development manager in the Western Europe and Middle East division of Alectris. He has over a decade of experience in solar PV project management, dealing with PV projects or plant transactions and involving the development, construction and operation of PV plants

O&M | Operations and maintenance has traditionally been thought of as something that happens after a PV power plant has been built and connected. But as Emanuele Tacchino writes, planning for the successful operation of a project, particularly a new PV market, begins long before construction.

BIPV: Living up to expectations

By Ben Willis, Editor, PV Tech

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.

Surveying the scene: How a new robot is revolutionising site surveying

By Danielle Ola, Editor, PV Tech

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.

Rubber stamping bankability

By Sara ver Bruggen

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.

One-track mind

By Danielle Ola, Solar Media

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.

Shortcomings and developments in PV forecasting

By Jan Remund, Meteotest

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.

Pyranometers versus reference cells for solar monitoring

By Peter N. Johnson, AWS Truepower

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.

Just-in-time deliver of PV power plants

By Maren Orgus, Hanwha Q CELLS; Mauro di Fiore, Hanwha Q CELLS

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.