Proactive monitoring in effective PV asset management

By Edmée Kelsey, 3megawatt; Gwendalyn Bender, Vaisala

Datasets from multiple sources allow PV power plants to be monitored more closely than ever before, but how best to use this data is another ball game. Edmée Kelsey and Gwendalyn Bender look at how data should best be stored, managed and mined for effective solar asset management.

How O&M contractors can deal with issues in newly and recently built PV plants

By Vicente Parra & Gorka Oña, Enertis

With either newly built PV plants or plants in operation for a couple of years, an O&M contractor may face a series of issues related to the plant’s design and construction, the quality of the equipment and parts, and warranty claims. Vicente Parra and Gorka Oña highlight some of these issues and recommend how O&M contractors can address them.

PV plant design and SCADA programming

By Marcos Blanco

The optimal incorporation of SCADA systems into a PV power plant can have a significant bearing on the profitability of a project. Marcos Blanco looks at how the layout and design of a PV system can best be configured to optimise a project’s performance.

How soiling and cleaning impact module performance in deserts

By Nicoletta Ferretti; Juliane Berghold

In recent years the number of PV installations in desert regions has increased, and a regular cleaning of the modules in these areas is necessary because of energy yield losses due to soiling. Investigations carried out by Nicoletta Ferretti and Juliane Berghold at PI Berlin, however, suggest that the stress caused by the cleaning procedure employed potentially affects the module performance during its lifetime.

A global approach to solar O&M

By Florian Danner, Managing Director, Conergy Services; Jens Kahnert, Managing Director, Conergy Services; Bjarn Rose, Senior Manager, Conergy Services

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.

Testing times

By Ben Willis, Head of Content

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.

Materials can be key to differences in module durability

By Dr. Alex Bradley, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions

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.

Understanding module degradation in utility-scale PV plants

By Agustin Carretero, Skytron Energy GmbH

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.

Fraunhofer PV Durability Initiative for solar modules: Part 3

By Dr Cordula Schmid, Fraunhofer CSE ; Rubina Singh, Fraunhofer CSE ; Cameron Stark, Fraunhofer CSE ; Dr Jacqueline Ashmore, Fraunhofer CSE ; Claudio Ferrara, Fraunhofer CSE ; Sandor Stecklum , Fraunhofer CSE

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.

Minimising risk from plant performance defects

By Willi Vaaßen, Director of the Global Competence Centre for PV Power Plants

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.

Inspection of PV plants using drone-mounted thermography

By Dr. Claudia Buerhop- Lutz, Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE Bayern) in Erlangen, Germany

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.

Rise of the machines

By Tom Kenning, Reporter

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.

Cleaning is the key!

By Klaus Friedl

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.

Novel systems for PV system monitoring

By Joshua Stein; Mike Green

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.

The evolution of O&M

By Sara Ver-Bruggen

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.