CEO Reveals Origins of Solar Software Company

CEO Reveals Origins of Solar Software Company

 

How did Raptor Maps, the leading solar lifecycle software company, get started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?  And what was the original idea that sparked it all?  This Watts Up podcast episode has the answer. 

The company developed Raptor Solar to improve solar project performance and strengthen ROI.  The software uses digital twins or maps of solar farms to aid with such tasks as verifying construction and supply chains, normalizing inspection data, streamlining warranty claims and simplifying the increasingly complex task of managing solar projects.  

Conner Allen:  So, today we interviewed the cofounder of Raptor Maps.  Had a very interesting conversation about what Raptor Maps does. 

Marie Burgquist:  If you’re really into data, if you’re into analytics, also if you’re into solar, you’ve gotten to the right place . . .  We now welcome the co-founder of Raptor Maps. 

Nikhil Vadhavkar:  Thank you for having me . . .  I’m the co-founder and CEO of Raptor Maps.  We were actually founded out of MIT and our goal is to build software to enable the solar industry to scale. 

Allen:  So, Nikhil, can you give me a little insight on what gave you the idea to really come up with this software? 

Vadhavkar:  When I met Eddie, my co-founder, we were both writing software for different entities in the aerospace world.  So I was doing thermal control system simulations for space suits for NASA and he was . . . doing some work for SpaceX as well as for the Navy.

. . . We kept our eye on big trends in aerospace and software.  I actually, a couple years before that, had had a grant from the Gates Foundation to build and deploy unmanned aerial vehicles or drones for emergency medical supply delivery.

So I was getting familiar with the revolutions in remote sensing.  And what we realized was that there was a big opportunity to basically digitize assets that were geospatially distributed and then run machine learning on all of these new types of data in order to bring it all together in one platform.  So there were a lot of enabling technologies.

What got us into solar was, as you guys know and have experienced, was that the really great thing for solar is that it’s come down the cost curve.

Solar is going to be 20% of the carbon offset solution for climate change.

So you’ve got solar being deployed at a faster rate than ever before.  Part of that driving force is the lower levelized cost of electricity.

What that means is the models are tighter, the operations and maintenance budgets are tighter, and you’ve got to do more with less.  

Where that really brings Raptor Maps into the picture is that we saw that a lot of O&M companies in particular . . .  were purchasing drones, $20,000-$30,000 drones.  They were getting credentials for their technicians and they were flying [drones] over solar farms in order to replace the old, dirty, dangerous, manual testing that was required.  And it looked really promising.

They didn’t have any software infrastructure to do it at scale.  And so that’s really where they came to us and said, “Looks like you guys are doing some pretty interesting work that could be relevant.  Can you help us scale?” 

The more we looked into it, the more we said, “Yeah, this is exactly what we need to be doing.  This is our calling.”  

Burgquist:  Can you tell us about how Raptor Solar can help scale the solar industry?

Vadhavkar:  The solar industry, if you look at it historically, was built by accountants and lawyers.  And that makes a lot of sense, right, when you’ve got high subsidies and smaller projects.  But from a scalability standpoint, documentation standpoint, optimization standpoint, that doesn’t work any more, right?

We’re going to have $6.4 trillion going into this industry in the coming decades.  And so, fundamentally, when we think about Raptor Maps and Raptor Solar, which is our software platform, we think about the data model and think about, “How do you build up a digital twin not just of a solar farm, commercial and industrial or utility-scale, but have a portfolio, an interoperable system for the entire industry?”

What Raptor Solar is and the way it works is that we create a digital model of an asset and then we’re able to, in a highly-structured way, layer in things like inspection results, time-series data [and] the production or the weather data, for example, from onsite sensors.  We can layer in equipment records like serial numbers and other sorts of documentation for supply chain verification and validation.

And very importantly, these types of data, because they’re in a structured data model, [are] not in isolation.  By combining them, by querying them in a certain way, we can . . .  unlock value and automate things that enable our customers, both owners, operators and builders, to optimize their systems.   

**

This is a snapshot of the interview, transcribed partially and edited lightly.  

You can listen to the rest of the podcast on a variety of services via Anchor.  

Watts Up is produced by GRNE Solar, which is a customer of Raptor Maps. 

 

About Raptor Maps  

Raptor Maps offers an advanced software platform to standardize data, analyze insights and collaborate across solar.  Commissioning info, serial number mapping, equipment records, inspections, aerial thermography, warranty claims, mobile tools and more — all powered by our industry-leading data model.  Intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs.  Standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance and reduce costs. 

Cleaning up the Solar PV Supply Chain Won’t Happen Overnight

Cleaning up the Solar PV Supply Chain Won’t Happen Overnight

Revealing the origins of solar panels can uncover labor and toxicity problems that can occur during manufacturing processes.  But this year’s protocol and commitment from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) showed that clarifying the obscurity of the solar supply chain is less easy than it might sound.   

There is currently research showing that forced labor is occurring in part of China, but discovering exactly what is happening is far from straightforward.  The U.S. government has delayed some solar PV module shipments from China due to this concern about forced labor.  It has also recently passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.    

Unfortunately, many solar energy companies do not currently have policies about human rights pertaining to supply chains, according to pv magazine.  Shifts in behavior and accountability are needed to put transparency in place for international markets.  These types of recommendations go along with SEIA’s overall environmental, social and governance (ESG) training, which supports equal rights for employees. 

 

How Chinese Labor Issues Permeate the Solar Supply Chain 

Forced labor is occurring in solar companies in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to a 2021 report from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), “In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains.”  

Low-cost coal power has encouraged manufacturers in Xinjiang to outcompete international companies in solar-grade polysilicon production during the last few years.  Factories in the region produce 45% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon, SHU says.  95% of the world’s solar panels use polysilicon as a building block.  11 companies are engaging in forced labor in China’s solar industry.  And this has a ripple effect, resulting in 90 solar companies having their supply chains tainted.     

Solar-grade polysilicon from Xinjiang is distributed broadly.  Jenny Chase, Head of Solar Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says in comments quoted by POLITICO that 95% of solar panels probably contain raw materials from those factories.  The World Economic Forum estimates that figure is more like 50%.  

The government in the region offers benefits to companies in local industrial parks, including free internet access and office furniture — benefits that create an unfair advantage for Chinese producers.   

Xinjiang companies are also pressured to participate in two programs that provide forced labor from the Muslim population, the report says.  This is happening despite the United Nations’ opposition to coercive work environments.  It is in violation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Forced Labour Convention of 1930.  It also goes against the ILO’s 1957 prohibition on forced labor motivated by political differences, economic development or ethnic discrimination.     

It’s hard to resolve this issue.  Sending auditors to Xinjiang to verify what is happening would likely result in authorities interfering with audits, Peterson Institute for International Economics says.  Government officials could send interpreters to misinform international auditing teams.  They could also penalize their citizens for talking with auditors.   

International government intervention is necessary, according to a report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), “Combatting Human Rights Abuses in Xinjiang.”  The new U.S. ban on imports from the region may make a difference.         

The management of First Solar, a United States manufacturer of solar modules, recently said that its panels were not built with forced labor, according to S&P Global.  But many companies may not be able to make that claim.  First Solar does not use polysilicon, according to SHU.        

 

Solar Energy Growth Hindered by Supply Chain Issues

Solar power is a crucial part of many ESG strategies to curb climate change.  And these goals are ambitious.  According to Bloomberg, the yearly solar power capacity manufactured in the world needs to increase from 330 gigawatts to at least 1,200 gigawatts by 2035 to meet current climate goals.  A 2019 study from LUT University says around 63,400 gigawatts of solar needs to be installed for the world to achieve net zero carbon emissions.   

Now is a time when the renewable energy industry should be growing expansively.  But labor issues have the potential to reduce public support for solar power at this crucial moment.  Previously supportive stakeholders may deny endorsement of solar projects if their polysilicon was produced under adverse conditions.    

 

Raptor Maps Solar Supply Chain Verification Software

Preventing supply chain delays is key to the success of solar construction projects.  And in the United States, verifying countries of origin of solar PV panels is key to allowing shipments from abroad to enter the country, not to mention to obtaining Investment Tax Credits (ITC) and to preserving brand reputation.  ITC credits are declining at a speed set by the federal government, as this article from Raptor Maps explains.    

Raptor Maps’ new software platform, Raptor Solar, helps verify solar supply chains and streamline the ITC filing process.  Our serial number scanning mobile application can tell a solar builder, owner or operator where a solar module is located on a digital twin or digital map, when it was installed, which factory it came from and what the flash test results were from that factory.   

Having this information empowers companies to handle maintenance proactively.  They can place modules correctly to prevent voltage mismatches.  The performance results provide insight about how rapidly technicians should install modules.   

The digital twin data makes companies better prepared for downstream warranty claims or supply chain issues.  This mitigates risk for all of the counterparties.   

 

Solar Industry Commitment 

Companies that opt in to SEIA’s Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental & Social Responsibility pledge to adopt best practices for diversity, labor, safety and sustainability.  They develop a set of key performance indicators to report to SEIA.  

The labor-related aspects of this commitment cover:

  1. Chosen employment
  2. Child labor
  3. Young workers
  4. Humane treatment
  5. Discrimination prevention
  6. Legal wages and benefits
  7. Free association

 The viewpoints in the commitment are based on guidelines from the Responsible Business Alliance, formerly known as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition.  SEIA also cited the requirements of the United Nations Global Compact. 

 

Traceability of Solar Supply Chains Can Help 

Steering clear of buying products made with forced labor can help put pressure on China to change its behavior, the CSIS report says.  To find out what conditions existed in manufacturing facilities, SEIA says stakeholders must create maps that trace the routes solar materials take through their lifetimes.  They must also ask their suppliers whether they adhere to labor and environmental standards.  And if supplier answers are not adequate, they must seek alternate sources of products and materials.  

Solar Power World and pv magazine have reported positively on SEIA’s protocol for supply chain accountability.  Offering an optional protocol through a professional association is just a first step.   

The protocol is not required for solar manufacturers, but some companies are showing interest in committing to labor rights.  According to the SHU report, 245 solar companies have signed SEIA’s pledge about preventing forced labor.  And SunPower has issued a human rights statement.    

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Over 10,000 solar companies in the United States should track labor issues in their supply chains.  The public statements SEIA makes about its protocol and commitment provide few details about why it is advantageous for companies to report social and environmental performance indicators to SEIA.  However, SEIA does list advantages in its traceability protocol including: 

  1. Legality
  2. Reputation (internal and external)
  3. Investment
  4. Competitiveness
  5. Innovation
  6. Savings    

 Given the amount of organizational change involved in putting social and environmental responsibility in place at thousands of companies, we should set more detailed industry goals of having stronger incentives and more extensive intervention if we want to see solar energy companies step up to the plate and be accountable.   

SEIA’s commitment and protocol can help guide the process.  But they are just the beginning of the process of changing the industry’s ground rules.   

 

Solar Supply Chain Traceability Protocol

When SEIA published the Solar Supply Chain Traceability Protocol 1.0 in 2021, it provided an in-depth perspective on the organizational changes that are involved in tracking the lifecycle of solar equipment.  This is typically a complex process requiring collaboration at multiple levels in each company.  The protocol recommends that solar companies use unique identifiers such as barcodes or serial numbers to track solar materials and products as they go through the manufacturing and distribution system.  

Solar companies that want to assess their supply chains should create routing maps for all of their materials — not just polysilicon.  This might include, for example, tracking the sources of inverters, wires and racking.   

The traceability protocol was customized to help companies meet import requirements so that they are unlikely to encounter customs issues.  It says Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits importing products into the United States if they were made with forced labor.  

 

About Raptor Maps  

Raptor Maps offers an advanced software platform to standardize data, analyze insights and collaborate across solar.  Commissioning info, serial number mapping, equipment records, inspections, aerial thermography, warranty claims, mobile tools and more — all powered by our industry-leading data model.  Intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs.  Standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance and reduce costs.

PV Supply Chain Shortage Cushioned with Solar Investment Tax Credit

PV Supply Chain Shortage Cushioned with Solar Investment Tax Credit

Power engineer walking toward solar photovoltaic array

Solar energy supply chains have been delayed due to the COVID health crisis — impacting everything from PV modules to inverters to brackets.  This can put solar asset construction projects on hold.  In response, the U.S. government moved to protect the solar industry from economic adversity by supporting the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Tax Act of 2020 and publishing Notice 2021-41

It’s hard to say how extensively the market has responded to this tax incentive to keep solar energy construction projects moving along while the climate change clock is ticking.  The tax benefit amounts to 4% of the all-inclusive project cost.  But the tax benefit is helpful.  The relief takes two forms, according to documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Energy (DOE): 

  1. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) 
  2. An energy-property tax credit

These are two of three solar tax credits available to commercial, industrial and utility companies.  The Act and the Notice made no changes to the third one, which is a credit for solar equipment manufacturing.  

Businesses filing for the ITC use IRS Form 3468.  It’s important to keep a comprehensive set of solar receipts for tax documentation.  The information you maintain should ideally include PV module serial numbers. 

 

Software to Help with Solar ITC Filings

To facilitate the solar ITC filing process, Raptor Maps’ new software platform, Raptor Solar, creates a trustworthy “paper trail” for documenting solar PV module installation.  You can use our serial number scanning app to input PV module serial numbers into a digital twin — thus verifying when specific solar PV modules are installed.  Scan serial numbers in less than two seconds per barcode with the Raptor App on a cell phone and/or a paired Bluetooth scanner.  You can also then correlate serial numbers with lists from the OEMs to verify supply chains for safe harbor and facilitate warranty claims.    

 

The Latest Investment Tax Credit for Solar Construction

The legislation continues an earlier trend in the U.S. solar industry.  Decision makers have previously extended this credit to support renewable energy.  The 2020 law offers a 4% increase in the tax deduction for several years, as shown in the right column in the table below.  The Act and Notice decelerate the scale-down of the advanced energy credit.  They also extend the safe harbor for some projects.  The tax credits are defined as percentages of the qualifying amounts a company has spent that year.  

 

Timeline for Phasing Down the Solar ITC

Date Construction Began Date Project Was Placed in Service Continuity Safe Harbor Tax Credit
1/1/2006 through 12/31/2019 Before 2026 No 30%
1/1/2019 through 12/31/2019 Before 2024 Yes (projects constructed between 2016 and 2019 now have their safe harbor extended to six years) 30%
1/1/2020 through 12/31/2022 Before 2026 No 26% (formerly 22%)
1/1/2020 through 12/31/2020 Before 2025 Yes (the safe harbor has been extended to five years) 26% (formerly 22%)
1/1/2023 through 12/31/2023 Before 2026 N/A 22%
1/1/2024 or thereafter N/A N/A 10%
Any date After 12/31/2025 Either 10%

(Sources: DOE and National Law Review)

 

Safe Harbor for Solar Energy Construction

The U.S. government uses continuity safe harboring to give companies more time to construct solar projects.  A safe harbor allows a company to claim the tax credit for a solar project during the initial year when it has spent 5% of the construction costs or engaged in substantial physical site construction.  The expenses and construction are required to be “integral” to the project.  The DOE says there are some specifications covering how solar projects should take place:  

  • Vendors must deliver equipment and services within 3.5 months after paying for them.  
  • Construction of solar projects must continue with a consistent schedule.  The schedule is considered consistent if it is completed within four years — or within ten years if the project is on federal land.  Companies can provide more data to the IRS to show progress if the projects take longer.

 

Solar Expenses that Qualify for the ITC

An extensive set of equipment charges qualify as expenses for the solar ITC, according to the DOE.  Installation fees and indirect costs, as well as sales and use taxes, also count.  Some eligible expenses include:  

  • Solar PV equipment including panels, inverters and racking, as well as balance-of-system equipment.
  • Circuit breakers, power transformers and surge arrestors for solar systems.
  • Energy storage equipment that will be charged by renewable energy sources over 75% of the time.

Companies can also leave out a wide range of financial benefits from their calculations, including the ones below — some of which count as taxable income.

 

Items that Do Not Reduce the Basis Expenditure for ITCs 

Income Source Exempt Types of Income 
Federal
  • Depreciation deductions
  • Tax exempt and subsidized energy financing
State
  • Solar PV system rebates
  • Performance-based incentives
  • Income tax credits
  • Property tax exemptions
  • Depreciation deductions
  • Grants
Utility
  • Solar PV system rebates
Local government
  • Income tax credits
  • Property tax exemptions
Nonprofit
  • Grants
Commercial
  • Loan guarantees
  • Revenue from the sale of renewable energy credits or other environmental attributes associated with the electricity generated by solar PV systems

(Source: DOE)

 

Accelerated Depreciation

Commercial solar projects can also often take advantage of accelerated depreciation, as the schedule below shows.  The depreciation bonus has at times gone as high as 100%, but will drop off until it ends completely in 2027.  

 

Depreciation Bonuses for the Solar ITC 

Date Project Was Placed in Service Depreciation Tax Credit
1/1/2008 through 9/8/2010 50%
9/9/2010 through 12/31/2011
Or 1/1/2018 through 12/31/2022
100%
1/1/2023 through 12/31/2023 80%
1/1/2024 through 12/31/2024 60%
1/1/2025 through 12/31/2025 40%
1/1/2026 through 12/31/2026 20%
1/1/2027 and thereafter 0%

(Source: DOE)

 

Solar Investment Tax Credit Restrictions

There are some restrictions on the tax credit.  It is only available to businesses and cooperatives that pay taxes in the United States or its territories.  If a company sells its solar system before the sixth year it is in service, it has to pay some of the tax credits it received back to the federal government.  There are also other unusual situations in which companies are required to repay the tax credits. 

 

Extended Energy-Property Tax Credit

Businesses that use solar power or illumination can also claim a second credit for property where they produced the energy.  The Act extended the deadlines for this credit.  Properties with one or more of the three technologies below qualify for the credit: 

  1. Fiber optic solar-illumination system that lights up the inside of a building
  2. Solar hot water system 
  3. Solar electricity system

 

The property should be relatively new, meet quality standards and experience financial depreciation (or amortization), recent IRS instructions said.  The credit does not apply to public utility property bought, built or reconstructed before February 14, 2008.  Companies use the cost of property construction or reconstruction as the basis to calculate their tax credits.  Depending on how the construction and/or purchase were financed, a company may need to reduce the basis by 50% and/or subtract rehabilitation expenses.  

The instructions for IRS Form 3468 explain how to calculate this credit.

 

Software & Services to Help with Solar ITC Filings

Raptor Solar is an advanced software-as-a-service platform for the entire solar lifecycle — from financing and construction through operations.  Powered by our industry-leading data model, Raptor Solar lets you optimize your PV assets, standardize data, analyze insights and collaborate.  Strengthen asset efficiency, boost staff effectiveness and ultimately lift financial return.  To learn more about Raptor Solar and how our serial number scanning app can help streamline ITCs, click here

 

Disclaimer: Raptor Maps does not provide professional tax advice.  We recommend that businesses consult the IRS and other experts when filing tax returns. 

 

About Raptor Maps  

Raptor Maps offers an advanced software platform to standardize data, analyze insights and collaborate across solar.  Commissioning info, serial number mapping, equipment records, inspections, aerial thermography, warranty claims, mobile tools and more — all powered by our industry-leading data model.  Intelligence for the entire solar industry — asset owners, managers, O&M, engineers, EPCs, financiers and OEMs.  Standardize and compare data across installations, increase performance and reduce costs.  

Raptor Maps Unveils New Productivity Features for Its Solar Lifecycle Software Platform

Raptor Maps Unveils New Productivity Features for Its Solar Lifecycle Software Platform

“Solar staff scanning and logging PV module serial numbers in the field.”

Analytics and insights software platform, Raptor Solar, now includes unlimited inspection reports, normalization of data and a host of new productivity tools.

 

BOSTON, MA, November 30, 2021 ― Raptor Maps has launched several new features for its analytics and insights software platform, Raptor Solar, aimed at improving productivity, lifting performance and increasing ROI of solar assets.  Their software-as-a-service platform for the entire solar lifecycle — from financing and construction through operations — is powered by machine learning and data that Raptor Maps has gathered from over 50 GW of solar power production across 40 countries.

 

Raptor Solar builds robust digital twins, or digital maps, of solar arrays.  The subscription software platform now comes with unlimited inspection reports that are input agnostic — drones, planes, satellites or sensors.  The platform can even digitize, standardize and store third party reports.

 

This enables customers to compare PV module inspection results and degradation over time for a bird’s eye view of solar assets.  Users can visualize long term degradation, view recurring issues and trending anomalies as well as keep track of issue resolution.  The software allows customers to quantify financial and production loss and even benchmark portfolios against their global database of PV system anomalies.

 

An industry-first, Raptor Solar also allows you to normalize inspection measurements with sensor and weather data across multiple inspections.  Integrate inverter, combiner, pyranometer and other sensor data with inspection reports.  Power production, irradiance and other data streams can all be imported, offering context around anomalies as well as more quantitative evidence of asset degradation.  The software integrates with SCADA or DAS systems with a few simple clicks to automate otherwise time intensive processes.

 

This makes meeting BloombergNEF Tier 1 module OEM warranty requirements easier and faster.  Using irradiance measurements, aerial thermography results are normalized to Standard Test Conditions (STC), allowing you to quickly get warranty claims processed with less back and forth.

“PV inspection report comparisons over time.”

Raptor Solar also now includes several productivity tools to allow teams to work efficiently and communicate effectively — from technicians to executives.  The software provides a centralized and secure place to store inspection reports, documents, CAD files, technical specifications, performance models, warranty documentation, shipping receipts, photographs and data.  Store all information in one place required for warranty claims, financial or M&A due diligence and general solar farm maintenance, enabling collaboration between parties.  Raptor Solar also lets you download original imagery and data for a higher level of auditability.

 

“We saw an opportunity to accelerate solar industry performance with data, analytics, software and machine learning while making it easier to manage solar installations,” said Nikhil Vadhavkar, CEO & Co-Founder of Raptor Maps.  “Customers have easily and quickly been able to deploy Raptor Solar, uniting previously siloed data and unlocking actionable learnings that increase productivity.”

 

Additional new features include as-built field navigation and serial number geo-location.  These build upon the company’s previously-launched barcode scanning and serial number mapping application, the first of its kind for the solar industry.  An Android or Apple mobile phone or any Bluetooth scanner allows you to scan barcodes on PV modules, validate serial numbers against OEM verified data and store the data, geo-tagged to your as-built.

 

The serial number scanning app lets you verify solar supply chains for safe harboring and tax incentive eligibility.  You can use the app to validate construction progress in real time or at mechanical or substantial completion.  Technicians can scan serial numbers on site for location relative to anomalies.  After repairs or replacement, subsequent inspections can confirm punch list completion.  The mobile app can be used while on site to view data from inverters and weather stations.  And the app lets users export serial number data to spreadsheets, including PV module latitudes and longitudes.

 

Globally, solar power is in the spotlight as many renewable energy companies seek to reduce the levelized cost of electricity and find innovative ways to identify and track issues with renewable energy equipment.  Raptor Maps is one of few companies that provide PV aerial inspections powered by machine learning that meet the standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission.  Raptor Maps inspections empower commercial, industrial and utility-scale solar owners and operators to take action on various types of solar equipment degradation, increasing performance and ultimately lifting ROI.

 

For more information about Raptor Solar, click here.

Rosendin Electric Uses Raptor Maps Software to Capture Nearly 1 Million Module Serial Numbers

Rosendin Electric Uses Raptor Maps Software to Capture Nearly 1 Million Module Serial Numbers


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 Unveils Manned Aircraft Manual for Solar PV Inspections

Raptor Maps Unveils Manned Aircraft Manual for Solar PV Inspections

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.