Reliable methods for PV power plant performance testing


By Evan S. Riley, Renewable Energy Consultant, Black & Veatch

Using a prescribed test protocol to compare the measured performance of a solar PV power plant relative to its expected performance is often a means by which the value of the facility is determined. Performance testing is used contractually to determine matters such as the fee paid to a constructor, the price paid to a seller, and the cost of capital from a lender or investor. To ensure that performance testing produces consistent and independently verifiable results, it is essential that accurate and repeatable test methods be used. This paper outlines critical deficiencies in older solar PV performance testing protocols, and how the methods prescribed in ASTM E2848 and E2939 eliminate these deficiencies and enable test practitioners to produce consistent, verifiable results with a high degree of confidence.

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In this issue we offer some insights into what the next wave of photovoltaic technologies may look like as that upturn gathers pace. Industry observers have been in broad agreement that the major next-gen PV technology innovations won’t happen straight away. But there’s also little doubt that the search is now on in earnest for the breakthroughs that will come to define the state of the art in the industry in the years to come.

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