A solar plant is made up of a large number of electrical components and equipment. These components need to be monitored regularly as a simple malfunction and defect can lead to generation loss, thereby reducing profitability. Hence, it is imperative for plant owners and O&M teams to ensure that all these components are performing at high efficiency.
A regular monitoring of on-site equipment means more man-hours which in turn increases a plant’s expense. Therefore, to overcome this hurdle, we designed a unique and efficient product – SolarPulseTM.
To demonstrate the capabilities of SolarPulseTM, we will consider a real-life example of a 6 MW solar plant which was commissioned in January 2014 and is located in Rajasthan. The plant has installed poly-crystalline modules which have been sourced from two different manufacturers.
In an analysis done by SolarPulseTM, the following issues were found:
- The performance ratio of the plant had fallen from 89% in Jan 2014 to 81% in Nov 2014
- The plant degradation was 8.1% in 10 months opposed to the allowed degradation of 2.1% in the same period
- The constant deterioration in the plant health has resulted in generation and revenue loss
The challenge here was to identify the underlying reason for plant degradation and rectify it to bring the facility back to optimum health.
Root Cause for the Performance Slump
The following steps were taken to determine the actual factors for low performance of the plant:
- Analysis of historic plant data done by SolarPulseTM revealed that PR had gradually fallen
- The loss due to soiling was ruled out as the panels were cleaned regularly
- We compared the PR of our plant with the PV plants in the vicinity and found that they did not face similar PR losses. Thus eliminating the fact that weather conditions were the factor responsible for the loss in performance
- Measurement equipment were checked for calibration and were found to be working perfectly
Since, the problem could not be localized to any particular factor, an in-depth analysis of plant performance was carried out using data from SolarPulseTM
- Power generation and PR were compared at transformer, inverter, combiner box and string levels
- Performance of strings with modules from the two different suppliers were compared
- It was found that PR loss was only in the modules from a particular supplier
- The other modules installed in the same plant were over-performing by 10% relative to defective module from that particular supplier
- It was, therefore, deduced that the cause of the problem lay in the modules of this particular supplier
- Physical testing method such as Flash Test verified the claim
As the problem was identified and rectified, a claim for a warranty against the defective module was submitted. The manufacturer denied any defect in the module, to which the following pointers were presented.
- Using reports generated from SolarPulseTM, it was shown that PR drop was witnessed only in this particular plant and within the plant only among these modules
- Historical data of PR performance was shared
- Comparison data between two different types of modules was shared, which clearly showed underperformance in this manufacturer’s modules
- All relevant evidence were shared against the same
The manufacture agreed to the warranty claims and replaced the defective modules with an upgraded series of modules. This also increased the DC capacity by 3% to safeguard against future drop.
This shows the ability of SolarPulseTM to comprehensively record, analyse and assess data from all components of the plant. It also helps to identify performance issues and their underlying causes. Thus, SolarPulseTM is a reliable partner for PV plants to ensure smooth operations and higher revenues.
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