One of dozens of technicians populating the digital twin with supply chain data.
Leading EPC turns to latest technology to map 300+ MW PV system.
ANAHEIM, CA—Rosendin Electric, the nation’s largest employee-owned electrical contracting company, announced a software launch partnership today with Raptor Maps to capture PV module (solar panel) serial numbers for a 300+ MW PV system under construction. Dozens of users simultaneously used Raptor Maps software on their smartphones to scan nearly 1 million serial numbers directly into a digital twin.
Users achieved scanning speeds of less than 2 seconds per module. Up to 27 users were on site and scanning simultaneously, and both individual and daily progress was instantaneously reported. The digital twin was populated in real-time on users’ smartphones and synced whenever a data connection was established. The modules for this utility-scale site were supplied by a Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) Tier 1 manufacturer, and data was validated against supplied documentation.
“At Rosendin Electric we continually leverage innovative solutions to meet our strategic goals, and those of our customers,” notes Manuel Rosabal, Director of Engineering. “Software that improves supply chain transparency, exceeds owner requirements, and enables efficient handoff between construction and operations is critical. Ultimately, this helps us deliver a high-quality renewable energy asset while maximizing returns for our partners.
The move comes at a time when, according to SEIA and Wood Mackenzie, the US solar industry will continue to break solar installation records for at least the next 3 years. Rosendin’s Renewable Energy Group (RREG) has recently been awarded a number of high-profile contracts, including partnerships with SB Energy and Tokyo Gas America to build some of the largest solar installations in California and Texas.
“The inspiration for Raptor Solar and the serial number scanning feature came out of our work with O&M providers and module manufacturers that strive to accurately track and mitigate degradation,” explains Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps’ co-founder and CEO. “We realized that it made sense to provide software to store the high-quality records that EPCs like Rosendin generate during the construction process, as opposed to the labor-intensive process of recreating these records years later.”
A recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) details the record-low prices for renewable energy, which is helping to fuel solar’s explosive growth. As the power sector continues to transform, renewable energy asset owners are operators are under pressure to meet and exceed forecasted project finance models. By partnering with customer-centric EPCs such as Rosendin, owners are finding a cost-effective way prioritize asset records and de-risk the construction and operation of a project.
Raptor Maps – Solar software company publishes best practices to reduce risk and increase production and IRR.
Raptor Maps released an industry-first manual for solar PV inspections with manned aircraft. The manual supplements best practices and training materials that the company has previously published for drones. It draws heavily from Raptor Maps’ 50 GW of PV system analytics experience, firsthand testing on utility-scale and C&I PV systems and its founding team of MIT aerospace engineers.
The detailed manual features step-by-step information for how to collect reliable PV system health data with airplanes and helicopters. It is useful to solar asset owners and managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs and financiers, as well as to pilots and other aviation professionals seeking new revenue sources in the fastest-growing energy sector.
“Solar asset owners and operators have a right to specify the quality of work that is done on their behalf,” says Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps’ co-founder and CEO. “The industry is moving away from the ‘check the box’ mentality, and stakeholders are demanding unfiltered, original data to ensure compliance and avoid money being left on the table. By making our drone and manned aircraft manuals available to the public, we reaffirm our commitment to transparency and enable anyone to be an aerial inspection expert.”
Among the insights are considerations for when to use manned aircraft, flight planning, equipment mounting and operation, specific cameras, lens configurations and aircraft makes and models that are used in the solar industry.
The publication comes on the heels of the company’s recent launch of Raptor Records, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that uses a digital twin to optimize record-keeping during PV system construction and operation. As part of its initiative to empower owners and operators, the company allows SaaS customers to quantify PV system degradation over time using historical aerial inspection data from any vendor.
Download the Guide to PV Inspection via Manned Aircraft for free here.
Leading C&I Owner-Operator Partners with Raptor Maps to Launch New SaaS Offerings that Improve Solar Production
Raptor Maps, the leading software startup in C&I and utility-scale solar,
announced Madison Energy Investments as its newest launch partner.
The company’s latest software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering equips Madison
Energy Investments with the digital tools needed to maximize the
performance of its fast-growing Commercial and Industrial (C&I) portfolio.
“Madison Energy Investments is serious about asset performance,” explains
Jack Hachmann, Managing Partner at Madison Energy Investments. “As the
fastest-growing developer, builder, and owner-operator in the C&I space, we are
laser-focused on stewardship for our investors. This means maximizing the
performance of our existing fleet and ensuring we have the digital infrastructure
in place to scale.”
Raptor Maps’ mobile application displays real-time
plane-of-array irradiance fused with their solar data model.
The latest Raptor Maps product enables Madison Energy Investments to fuse
in-field sensor data with the electrical schematics in a standardized format, streamline
the warranty claim process, and directly correlate revenue with aerial inspection data.
Additionally, Madison Energy Investments tracks the performance of assets and causes
of degradation from year-over-year, in order to address any performance deficits before
they impact the bottom line.
“Raptor Maps is proud to power the most innovative companies in solar,”
notes Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO of Raptor Maps. “The Madison Energy
Investments team has a strong pedigree of managing a portfolio of assets
across hundreds of PV systems, and they currently span the solar lifecycle
from development through operations. We are enabling them to increase the
internal rate of return (IRR) across their pipeline, which in turn catalyzes the
global transition to renewable energy.”
Raptor Maps’ application scans and associates
serial numbers into their solar data model.
About Madison Energy Investments
Madison Energy Investments is a platform that develops, constructs, owns
and operates distributed generation assets within the commercial and industrial
(C&I) and small utility-scale sectors. The team’s diverse experience has produced
best practices across all phases of the industry from origination to asset
management. Quality partnerships and the ‘execution mindset’ drive us to be the
best team in the industry. To date, MEI has over 200 MW under contract across
17 states. To learn more about Madison Energy Investments, please visit madisonei.com.
About Raptor Maps
Raptor Maps is the leading provider of lifecycle management software
for the solar industry, with over 45 GW analyzed, spanning 40 countries.
We service the full solar stack and enable efficiency for all counterparties
involved during a PV system’s inception and design, through construction,
commissioning, and operating life. Our software offerings provide standardized,
collaboration-enabled system analytics and reports. We enable solar companies
to increase performance, reduce costs and risk, and manage solar PV assets
across a portfolio. In short, we enable solar to scale. To learn more about Raptor
Maps, please visit raptormaps.com.
This article was originally published on the Solar Builder Magazine website. They asked us to share the latest trends in the industry, specifically — where should owners and operators focus their efforts? Here is what Nikhil Vadhavkar, co-founder and CEO, had to say. He is an MIT engineer, Y combinator alum, and PV system remote sensing expert.
22 Reasons Why Your Counterparty Should Prioritize You
Each year, we publish a global aerial inspection report that details key findings and trends from the last 12 months. This year’s dataset is the largest ever, drawing from 22 GW of Raptor Maps PV system inspections in 27 countries. Given that we have historically achieved 3x annual growth, this was expected. “22” still managed to surprise us, as it was also the average number of times a data owner shared the results of an inspection report with a collaborator or counterparty. The reasons behind this may surprise you as well.
Overview of the Global Report
Our global report details the frequency and magnitude of underperformance uncovered via aerial inspection and delivered through our software. Aerial inspection is a technique mandated by owners and operators to meet commissioning, preventative maintenance, and warranty inspection requirements. Aerial inspection fuses site-specific schematics with thermal and color image data captured under specific conditions by unmanned or manned aircraft.
From the 22 GW data subset used, we found that 1.9% of the total plant capacity was affected, amounting to a net present value (NPV) of $435 million. The affected capacity in the global reports has fluctuated from year-to-year, reflecting remediations, new anomalies, changing asset management practices, and a trend towards more granular (e.g., IEC-compliant) inspections.
In this year’s global report, we included a new statistic: collaboration. We discovered that, on average, the data owners share their PV system inspection results with 22 other users. This includes both the synthesized analysis and the original, unmodified aerial inspection data. These users range from collaborators within the data owner’s organization (e.g., an O&M authorizing a field technician to review the results) to users in counterparty organizations (e.g., an owner sharing the analysis with a module manufacturer, or vice versa).
Above is a first-of-its-kind solar industry network graph depicting collaboration between counterparties taken from the 2021 Global Solar Aerial Inspection Report.
The above image is an industry network graph of a subset of the data. Smaller clusters tend to be within an organization, and longer lines indicate collaboration between organizations.
The most frequently shared analyses were IEC TS 62446-3:2017-compliant inspections for commissioning and warranty claims, and inspections incorporating on-site pyranometer data. The data and our customer interactions indicate that by leveraging software to collaborate with counterparties, owners and operators receive more positive resolutions from EPCs and module manufacturers. Additionally, owners have become more sophisticated and are setting more appropriate thresholds for remediation, which has reduced the barrier to collaboration with their O&M.
This year, we have also seen more engagement from module manufacturers, both as direct customers and as counterparties. Several module manufacturers have either directly accepted IEC-compliant analyses for warranty claims, or have enabled Raptor Maps customers to re-stratify findings on IEC-compliant data based on factory guidance.
Industry at the Tipping Point
The solar industry is already more relationship-driven than most, and we wanted to find out why users have an increased need to collaborate with each other. We took a deeper dive to not just answer “Why?” but to understand “Why now?”. Here’s what we found:
The traditional mental model for an inspection report gives us two ends of a spectrum. On one end, there is the original data (which can be hundreds of pages), that requires expert interpretation and inference. On the other, is a high-level analysis detailing financial impact or simply an indication that the work was performed. Sharing only the former can create confusion and cause a “data overload” while sharing the latter may feel like a “sugarcoat.”
Software solves this problem and eliminates this false dichotomy by drawing from a data model in which users can start at a high level, and, if desired, click down to the underpinning data. Software also enables the solar industry to access data products tailored for end-users, from field technicians and performance engineers to asset owners to in-house software developers.
As evidenced by the industry network graph, the relationships between counterparties in the solar industry are complex. Even parties that attempt to standardize are often faced with legacy agreements or other constraints that will result in contracting with multiple parties performing partially-overlapping functions.
Standardization of a solar-specific data model and publicly-available documentation to access and manipulate that model ensures that data does not remain siloed by individual agreements. Furthermore, enforcement of industry standards, such as data capture standards, ensures that the input data and method of analysis is consistent. In the case of aerial inspection, this has increasingly become the case.
Benefits of this standardization that we have observed include:
- Establishment of a benchmark with a commissioning inspection, which can be compared to preventative maintenance inspections year-over-year
- O&M companies utilizing data capture standards to develop hybrid programs (with both in-house pilots and turnkey services)
- Asset owners unifying analytics from preferred asset managers and O&M vendors with legacy contracts or regional providers
- Eliminate duplicate costs and time lost when investigative inspections are requested by module manufacturers
Solar industry professionals are among the busiest, and increased telepresence has created an “always-on” culture. This means that collaborators and counterparties are constantly competing for attention. Our most significant finding is that those who leverage standardization, transparency, and collaboration are prioritized. They provide all needed evidence to achieve a positive outcome in the most user-friendly way possible, resulting in concise and effective communication. They earn bandwidth and time on the counterparty’s calendar. Faster resolutions translate to an increase in the internal rate of return (IRR) and enable more assets to be managed per head.
Reaction to Externalities
COVID-19 changed the outlook for the solar industry in 2020 and 2021. In addition to new installation delays, solar operators have sought to minimize physical movement. It has been especially difficult for owners and managers, who typically do not “turn wrenches,” to justify site visits. The need for increased awareness without a physical presence is the reason why there are so many Zoom meetings on your calendar, and this same drive has necessitated an increased reliance on software.
Causes of Underproduction
The global report also revealed the most frequent causes of underproduction in utility-scale and C&I assets in the past year. The study encompassed over 70 million modules, 92 module manufacturers, and 1,126 PV systems. On average, Raptor Maps inspections revealed that 1.9% of power production is affected, compared with 1.6% from the previous year.
Classifications included in the study include functional units, such as off-nominal inverters and trackers, environmental conditions, such as shading and soiling, and module-level findings, such as cracking and activated bypass diodes.
As detailed earlier, the technique used for data collection and analysis was aerial inspection, which fuses site-specific schematics with thermal and color image data captured under specific conditions by unmanned or manned aircraft.
The figure above displays the percent of production affected by functional units within a PV system, including inverters, combiners, trackers, strings, and modules. String and combiner anomalies were the largest cause of production impact, while module-level impact surprisingly outpaced inverter impact this year. The module-level anomalies are further stratified in the global report.
Modules from 92 manufacturers are included in the report. Of the total number of modules inspected, 84% were Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Tier 1 modules. The most common module technology was polycrystalline.
Looking to the Future
With the renewed interest in renewable energy and climate tech, the solar industry no longer flies under the radar. Any way we slice it, whether it’s capital deployed, assets built, assets under management, or kWh of renewable energy produced, the expectations of solar industry professionals will continue to increase. Software is now a requirement, and we all must do our part to collaborate effectively, achieve positive outcomes, and keep the (proverbial) solar flywheel spinning.