Preparing for Extreme Weather Events on Solar Farms

Preparing for Extreme Weather Events on Solar Farms

raptor maps hurricane ian solar site

 

Steps for building technical resilience for solar plants given the increasing frequency of extreme weather

 

Hurricane Ian’s trajectory is expected to affect roughly 800 solar farms with 14GW of peak power capacity, underlining that owners and operators of utility-scale solar installations have an increasing need to take meaningful steps to mitigate risks and preserve energy output.

A Raptor Maps analysis of Hurricane Ian’s probable path is overlaid unto the locations of large solar farms in the graphic above, illustrating the potential for damage.*

While some solar operators may believe that the only way to prepare for extreme weather is to have a good insurance policy, there are numerous ways to mitigate risk and facilitate the thoughtful operations of solar plants.

This guide outlines some of the most productive ways to prep for extreme weather and build technical resilience for your facility—thus helping to ensure power output and speed the inevitable warranty claims process.

 

Why Build Technical Resilience?

What is technical resilience, exactly, and why is it important to focus on now?

Building technical resilience is the process of implementing preventative and preparative techniques to reduce the likelihood of experiencing severe damage due to an extreme weather event. It’s important because, aside from insurance, this is the #1 way to protect solar assets.

The frequency of extreme weather events has been on the rise, and experts predict the trend will continue. This was neatly quantified by Insurance Business Magazine: “In the second quarter of 2022, there were multiple catastrophic hail events that all caused losses in excess of $50 million in the solar industry.”

Read on for the exact steps to take to prepare for the increasing risk of extreme weather.

 

Steps to Take to Prepare for Extreme Weather

 

1. Assess the Particular Risks to Your Solar Farm

The first step in building technical resilience is to identify the risks present at your facility. Is your asset located in a high risk region for one of the following: damaging hail (>2”), wildfire, tornado, or hurricane/flood? Insurance providers may be able to provide data around the likelihood of extreme weather occurring on or around your facility. Understanding the risk will allow you to make engineering decisions and procure spare parts in preparation for extreme weather. For all potential threats, it is highly recommended that you begin preparing during the construction phase.

Although extreme weather can damage many parts of the array, the most common claims involve modules, and that is what is focused on here. Most module warranty claims require the following to file a claim: (a) party making claim; (b) detailed description; (c) evidence, including photographs and data; (d) relevant serial numbers; (e) Warranty Start Date; (f) Module type; and (g) physical address. There is a lot of overlap with insurance claims, and they will require the same equipment records.

 

2. Build a Digital Twin of Your Solar Site

Building a digital twin is the first step in planning for asset operations and a potential future claim. Raptor Maps provides digital twins that are a comprehensive data model based on your as-built drawings and that act as a data warehouse for the entire history of your equipment.

 

3. Map the Serial Numbers of All Panels

Mapping serial numbers is the the next step in planning for a potential claim. When the module serial numbers are loaded into Raptor Maps digital twin, you begin building an equipment record. Loading in panel serial numbers and starting your digital twin will allow you to take an important step in simplifying and expediting any future claims.

 

4. Run Aerial Thermography Commissioning Scans

Commissioning scans are the next step in building your equipment record. Scanning your panels prior to COD will give you a snapshot of the panel health prior to operations begin. This is a key piece of data that the insurance providers and warranty holders look for when reviewing a claim, they want to know whether or not the equipment was healthy prior to the weather event.

 

5. Perform Annual or Semi-Annual Thermography Scans

Regular thermography scans will keep your equipment record for the life of the asset. Every time a scan is performed, you are continuing to build the equipment record and track it’s health over time. This historical record will be reviewed during the claim process and the more data you have, the better chance of claim approval.

 

6. Perform a Scan Following Extreme Weather

In the unfortunate event that a site gets hit by hail or other extreme weather causing damage to the modules, getting an aerial IR scan performed as quickly as possible is key to restoring the system to full production. This will give you, and your insurance providers, a conclusive report on the overall damage to the system and help move the claim forward.

 

7. Use a Software Solution for Warranty and Insurance Claims

Raptor Solar’s warranty claims feature is a software solution that aggregates all of the above in a quick and simplified application, allowing you to file claims with the click of a button. Whether it’s insurance providers or warranty holders, Raptor Maps allows O&M to streamline the claims process.

Raptor Solar’s warranty claims feature is a software solution that aggregates all of the above in a quick and simplified application, allowing you to file claims with the click of a button. Whether it’s insurance providers or warranty holders, Raptor Maps allows O&M to streamline the claims process.

These steps are key to reducing downtime and lost production. Not all insurance policies will allow you to claim all of your lost production, therefore restoring your asset to 100% production as fast as possible is the goal of our Raptor Maps Claims feature.

 

Plan Ahead for Extreme Weather

The risk of extreme weather to solar assets is on the rise, but you can act early to prevent significant damage. Following the guidance outlined above, and working with insurers, you can rest assured that your valuable investments are protected.

* Raptor Maps analyzed NOAA’s 18th forecast for Hurricane Ian and combined it with the EIA’s database of solar farms in the area over 1MW. 

JinkoSolar Partners with Raptor Maps to Streamline PV Module Warranty Process

JinkoSolar Partners with Raptor Maps to Streamline PV Module Warranty Process

solar pv technician in a solar pv site field

 

Software support affirms JinkoSolar’s exemplary customer service and saves time for owners and operators

 

Raptor Maps, the leading provider of solar lifecycle management software, has released an enterprise-grade warranty claims product with launch partner JinkoSolar, one of the largest and most innovative module manufacturers in the world with over 100 GW of module shipments.

Raptor Maps’ new software release provides a tech-forward solution to a historically complex process, reducing both labor costs and turnaround time. Robotically-captured inspection data in the Raptor Solar platform is fused with both in-field and manufacturer-supplied data. Warranty submissions allow for an auditable data log, are designed to minimize confounding variables, and enable status updates and collaboration with JinkoSolar engineers directly within the platform.

 

 

“Our U.S.-based support team takes pride in being the most trusted supplier of solar and energy storage equipment in North America,” explains Mr. Nigel Cockroft, General Manager of JinkoSolar (U.S.) Inc. “Our commitment to customer success and long-term partnerships has earned us that trust. We are proud to be Raptor Maps’ launch partner, which helps us achieve this mission and provide a top-tier experience for JinkoSolar customers.”

The newly passed Inflation Reduction Act earmarks $370 billion for renewable energy in the United States, creating unprecedented demand. Coupled with increased pressure on O&M margins, owners and operators are turning to technology-led solutions to maximize performance, reduce costs, and standardize processes.

“It is particularly exciting to have JinkoSolar as a launch partner, as they share our mission of enabling customers to scale solar operations in the long-term,” describes Raptor Maps CEO and co-founder Nikhil Vadhavkar, noting that JinkoSolar modules are accepted by 85 financial institutions. “In addition to providing better tools and guidance for boots-on-the-ground workers, we enable JinkoSolar to track in-field performance of their modules to monitor trends and proactively engage with customers.”

 

About JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd.

JinkoSolar (NYSE: JKS) is one of the largest and most innovative solar module manufacturers in the world. JinkoSolar distributes its solar products and sells its solutions and services to a diversified international utility, commercial and residential customer base in China, the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Chile, South Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and other countries and regions. JinkoSolar has built a vertically integrated solar product value chain, with an integrated annual capacity of 43.0 GW for mono wafers, 42.0 GW for solar cells, and 50.0 GW for solar modules, as of June 30, 2022.

JinkoSolar has 14 productions facilities globally, 21 overseas subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, UAE, and Denmark, and global sales teams in China, the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Australia, Korea, India, Turkey, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Hong Kong, as of June 30, 2022.

To find out more, please see: www.jinkosolar.com

Measuring the Warm-Up Time for Large-Scale Solar Equipment

Measuring the Warm-Up Time for Large-Scale Solar Equipment

drone pilot inspecting solar PV farm

An investigation into how long pilots should wait for PV inverters to come online before beginning an IR inspection

 
Having all solar modules online is a precondition for solar farm inspections, but large solar PV equipment, including inverters, are often offline for preventative maintenance, curtailment, or scheduled outages. Recognizing these operational limitations, Raptor Maps conducted an investigation into exactly how long it takes for inverters to warm up, reducing the need for guesswork and helping to ensure that pilots don’t run inspections that result in incomplete data collection. 
 
 In partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette), Raptor Maps conducted a set of experiments at the 1.1MW Louisiana Solar Energy Lab (LaSEL), including efforts to accurately define how long it takes for an array to “warm up” after re-energization. For the purposes of these experiments, arrays were considered warmed up when thermal anomalies were clearly visible and diagnosable via aerial infrared (IR) imagery. 
 
Raptor Maps established both a baseline average module temperature in Standard Test Conditions (STC) and calculated the temperature delta for a module with confirmed cell damage. A drone was deployed and periodically captured IR imagery while three inverters were simultaneously de-energized and re-energized. Imagery was captured every minute until it was observed that both average module temperatures and temperature deltas of cell defects matched that of baseline measurements. Approximately 25 minutes after re-energization in STC, thermal anomalies became visible, diagnosable, and measurable for accurate temperature deltas. 

0 minutes after inverter re-energization

25 minutes after inverter re-energization

Based on the findings, Raptor Maps strongly recommends that pilots wait no less than 25 minutes following inverter re-energization in acceptable environmental conditions before beginning an inspection. Incorporating this waiting period is critical for successful flight operations, as it will eliminate excess re-flights, allow for accurate thermal anomaly detection, and maximize pilot efficiency while on-site.

This article was written by Charlie Davies, the Technical Specialist at Raptor Maps, in partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette). 

Industry Leaders Identify Top Solar Energy Risks in Comprehensive Report

Industry Leaders Identify Top Solar Energy Risks in Comprehensive Report

solar pv farm near mountains

Raptor Maps found that power affected by anomalies increased to 2.63% last year as large-scale solar installations become more common.

 

BOSTON, MA, Aug 10, 2022 ― Raptor Maps, the leading provider of solar lifecycle management software, is one of several industry leaders that contributed to kWh Analytics’ 2022 Solar Risk Assessment Report.  The report provides wide-ranging insights into risks associated with the solar industry. 

The 25-page report focuses on three key risk areas:  Financial pressures related to cost overruns, underperforming assets as well as how extreme weather conditions are introducing elements of uncertainty into solar asset operations. 

Raptor Maps’ contribution focuses on solar asset anomalies, finding that power affected by anomalies has surprisingly increased from 1.74% in 2018 to 2.63% in 2021.  The solar software provider used machine learning to analyze anomalies from thermal inspections across 20 GW of utility and C&I systems across the globe.  C&I and utility scale PV systems generate tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional production every year as anomalies are identified, prioritized and efficiently addressed.  The upward trend is largely driven by increases in several balance of system (BOS) anomalies associated with strings, inverters, combiners and trackers in addition to module and sub-module level issues. 

The report includes contributions from kWh Analytics, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, BloombergNEF, SolarGIS, NovaSource Power Services, Solar Support, DNV, NREL, PV Evolution Labs, STS, VDE Americas, PowerFactors and Clean Power Research.

Research from kWh Analytics looks into financial modeling risk, finding that 92% of lost EBITDA of solar assets is due to underproduction.  The causes of lost EBITDA include poor availability, unrealistic production forecasts and lower-than-expected irradiance, according to their findings. 

A contribution from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables focuses on the large cost increases for installing PV systems.  The company’s research notes that new-build solar capital expenditures have increased by 8% year-over-year for a typical 100 MW PV system.  

There are also contributions from firms detailing how extreme weather is affecting solar installations.  A section of the report by VDE Americas presents data showing that comprehensive hail mitigation strategies — in particular, tilting modules so they aren’t horizontal — can greatly reduce power losses.  Research from DNV examines how uneven terrain at solar projects can result in energy losses 6% above pre-construction estimates, but that new backtracking algorithms can recover some of that energy loss.  And findings from Clean Power Research look into how stakeholders need to examine the extent to which smoke from wildfires can affect power yield.  

“The analysis by Raptor Maps and other industry leaders provides valuable data about the evolving risks associated with large-scale solar installations,” explains Raptor Maps CEO and co-founder Nikhil Vadhavkar.  “By quantifying and understanding these risks, solar asset owners and operators can implement mitigation strategies across the solar lifecycle to increase power production, reduce costs and ultimately increase project and portfolio IRR.” 

The report highlights the need for solar energy asset owners and operators to have reliable ways to identify and address anomalies affecting performance on their assets.  Raptor Solar, Raptor Maps’ new software-as-a-service platform, features digital twins (or digital maps) of your solar sites, provides unlimited thermal inspection reports and allows users to normalize data to standard conditions and compare inspection findings over time.  So asset owners and operators can identify issues before they compound, reduce risk and ultimately lift ROI.

 Download a copy of the report here.

 

About Raptor Maps

Raptor Maps offers advanced analytics, insights and productivity software for the entire solar lifecycle. The Raptor Solar software platform features a digital twin of your solar sites, aerial thermal inspections, data standardization and normalization, serial number mapping, warranty claim features, equipment records, mobile tools and more — all powered by their industry-leading data model. With intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs — you can standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance, reduce risk and ultimately lift ROI.

Raptor Maps Announces Former Wood Mackenzie Exec James Wagstaff as CRO

Raptor Maps Announces Former Wood Mackenzie Exec James Wagstaff as CRO

James Wagstaff, Raptor Maps CRO

Wagstaff and other key hires will help the solar analytics software leader advance its mission to make the industry more productive and profitable.

BOSTON, MA, July 15, 2022 ― Raptor Maps, the leading provider of solar lifecycle management software, announced it has expanded its team with several new strategic hires who will advance the software company’s mission to scale the solar industry. The company recently closed its Series B funding.

James Wagstaff joins Raptor Maps as the Chief Revenue Officer to lead the company’s ambitious sales efforts.  Wagstaff is an established sales executive in the energy industry with a track record of delivering high-growth results for energy SaaS and data companies.  Over the past 14 years, Wagstaff has led sales, customer success, and commercial strategy and has overseen domestic and international expansion.  Wagstaff is well-known in the energy industry for commercializing high-value software to help energy executives with their most pressing challenges.

“I couldn’t be more excited about joining Raptor Maps and contributing to the stellar team that co-founders Nikhil and Eddie have built,” says Wagstaff.  “Customers look to Raptor Maps for practical, actionable data and insights to improve their solar operations and financial performance.  I’m looking forward to helping the company make the solar energy industry more efficient and productive.”

Wagstaff’s hiring is part of a larger team expansion at Raptor Maps that includes significant hiring across marketing, product, operations, software, and knowledge.

The hires include Don Nista as Head of Knowledge.  The former Director of Operations for SB Energy, Vice President for O&M at Goldman Sachs, and Vice President for O&M at Cypress Creek Renewables is charged with advancing Raptor Maps’ solar energy industry insights.  Nista will apply his hard-won expertise to the entire utility-scale and C&I solar industry and accelerate Raptor Maps’ ability to deliver value to customers across the solar lifecycle.

“It is a pleasure to join Raptor Maps and lead the company’s vision to provide solar energy industry analytics and knowledge that will transform the renewable sector,” says Nista.

The new hires follow Raptor Maps’ $22 million round of Series B funding with significant contributions from MacKinnon, Bennett & Co. (MKB) and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, and participation from Blue Bear Capital, DNV, Buoyant Ventures, Congruent Ventures, Data Point Capital and ENGIE New Ventures.  The funding round fuels Raptor Solar, the groundbreaking climate tech software platform that lets utility-scale and C&I solar companies standardize and analyze data, collaborate, optimize PV assets, reduce risk and ultimately lift financial return.

 “Raptor Maps’ industry-leading technology is predicated on the work of the highest caliber talent in renewable energy,” says Raptor Maps CEO and Co-Founder Nikhil Vadhavkar.  “We’re thrilled to welcome James and others to the team and know they will help advance our mission to make the solar energy industry more efficient and profitable.”

About Raptor Maps

Raptor Maps offers advanced analytics, insights and productivity software for the entire solar lifecycle.  The Raptor Solar software platform features a digital twin of your solar sites, aerial thermal inspections, data standardization and normalization, serial number mapping, warranty claim features, equipment records, mobile tools and more — all powered by their industry-leading data model.  With intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs — you can standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance, reduce risk and ultimately lift ROI.

Cypress Creek Renewables Chooses Raptor Maps’ New Insights Platform to Maximize Returns Across Its Portfolio

Cypress Creek Renewables Chooses Raptor Maps’ New Insights Platform to Maximize Returns Across Its Portfolio


Data, analytics and insights allow more intelligent decision-making for the solar industry.

BOSTON, MA, May 2, 2022 — Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the largest utility-scale solar developers, owners and O&M providers in the United States, announced they’ll be using the new analytics and insights platform from Raptor Maps, Raptor Solar.  Raptor Solar, an advanced software solution, standardizes data, analyzes findings and lifts productivity, which will enable Cypress Creek to maximize power output and returns from their extensive 3.9 GW portfolio of over 300 company-owned and third-party managed sites in 19 states.

Raptor Maps has for about a half decade provided Cypress Creek with state-of-the-art PV module inspections.  Layering Raptor Solar onto Raptor Maps is a force multiplier in value to Cypress Creek.  Raptor Solar enables Cypress Creek to deliver an industry leading availability guarantee for the assets they manage through their innovative and data driven services.

Raptor Maps creates digital twins of Cypress Creek’s solar arrays, offering a bird’s-eye view of portfolios, enabling a host of associated features that allow them to optimize performance.

“We’re excited that Raptor Solar allows us to digitize portfolios, make data-informed decisions and enable a new phase of growth for Cypress Creek and our clients,” says Jared Kirk, Vice President of Operations & Maintenance at Cypress Creek Renewables.  “Output from the software allows us to be more proactive in decision making with a higher degree of confidence.  Raptor Solar’s productivity tools free up our time to focus on the overall efficiency and returns of our portfolio and those we manage for third parties.”  

 


Unlimited inspection reports that are standard with Raptor Solar ― including digitization of historical and third-party reports ― allow Cypress Creek to inspect sites more frequently and in greater detail, gaining a continuous understanding of assets, including detailed and accurate comparisons over time.

The Raptor Maps data model also integrates information from Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Data Acquisition Systems (DAS), such as irradiance data.  This enables more sophisticated degradation analysis using normalized temperature deltas, which can strengthen warranty claims.

“Our digital twins incorporate geospatial and electrical relationships to create a standardized data model across the entire Cypress Creek fleet,” remarks Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO and co-founder of Raptor Maps.  “Enterprises need to be able to click on a module in a fully populated digital twin, see factory performance data, trace the shipping container it arrived on, the moment the equipment was verified as installed, the inverter it is connected to, the performance of that inverter, current or historical issues with that module and the financial implications of O&M decisions.  Cypress Creek recognizes that scalable software infrastructure is crucial to manage these 25+ year assets and we are proud to support their digitization efforts.”

“We’ve tested Raptor Maps’ insights platform and found its data and learnings to be reliable, practical and very actionable.  With a digital model of our solar portfolio and the features associated with it, we save time in the field and improve our productivity and competitiveness,” says Mitchell DuRant, Reliability Engineering Program Manager at Cypress Creek.  “The app also makes it easy when in the field to navigate to panels associated with anomalies, store geo-tagged photos and site notes and keep a record of maintenance histories.”

 

 

About Raptor Maps 

Raptor Maps offers advanced analytics, insights and productivity software for the entire solar lifecycle.  The Raptor Solar software platform features a digital twin of your solar sites, aerial thermal inspections, data standardization and normalization, serial number mapping, warranty claim features, equipment records, mobile tools and more — all powered by their industry-leading data model.  With intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs — you can standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance, reduce risk and ultimately lift ROI. 

 

About Cypress Creek Renewables

Cypress Creek Renewables is powering a sustainable future, one project at a time.  Cypress Creek develops, finances, owns and operates utility-scale and distributed solar facilities across the country.  With 11.5 GW of solar developed and 3.9 GW under management, Cypress Creek is one of the country’s leading solar and storage developers and O&M providers.  For more, visit ccrenew.com.