Operations & maintenance | Proposals by Chinese authorities to scale back the subsidies available for grid-tied PV will require new efforts to maximise the performance of power plants. Karl Hong Wan of the GCL Design & Research Institute explores some of the innovations in O&M practices that will help China’s solar industry cope with decreasing financial support.
The timely and skilful interpretation of performance data from the monitoring of operational PV power plants is vital to improving the management and thus profitability of those plants over their lifetime. Achim Woyte shows how data mining and artificial intelligence can serve the management of solar assets.
The past two years have seen a boom in the deployment of mobile PV testing laboratories. Sara ver Bruggen reports on how technological advances are helping investors and developers in new and emerging solar markets get the best from their assets.
Potential-induced degradation can cause significant power loss in modules if the appropriate precautions are not taken. In the first part of a new series in PV Tech Power on module failure, Peter Hacke and Steve Johnston assess the current state-of-the-art in detecting, avoiding and mitigating the worst effects of PID.
The European solar industry has followed the lead taken by its counterparts in the US by developing best practice guidelines for the burgeoning O&M business. Stefan Degener, senior director of O&M at First Solar, who led a group to develop the guidelines, speaks to Ben Willis about their significance and aims.
The maturing of the solar operations and maintenance business has shone a spotlight on the need for some universally accepted standards and practices across the industry. Vassilis Papaeconomou explains why such a step forward will be vital to ensuring the full value of solar assets is realised.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.