“Rarely does a single investment yield both significant social and financial benefit. In this way, solar is unique: this rapidly growing asset class offers the promise of substantial returns on investment in both.”
-kWh Analytics, producer of the Solar Risk Assessment Report.
The Solar Risk Assessment Report: 2020 is a quantitative, data-driven, analysis of risks across different fields in the solar industry. The report is compiled of articles from industry experts in their respective areas, each providing in-depth data and insight into the associated risk and methods to mitigate them. In this year’s edition, Raptor Maps was invited as one of the eleven contributors, writing alongside some of the solar industry’s most respected companies, including DNV-GL, Nextera Analytics, WoodMackenzie Power & Renewables, Radian Generation, Origis Services, and others. Raptor Maps was chosen to represent the aerial thermography inspections and the post-processing scope of the industry. Our contribution to the compendium focused on the importance of performing rigorous, high-detail commissioning inspections to reduce the transfer of risk to asset owners and minimize a probable increase in performance issues, as shown by the data.
There is a transfer of risk to the asset owner when a solar PV system is commissioned, a crucial step before the Commercial Operation Date (COD). To minimize performance risk and increased costs, a detailed commissioning inspection is required. This also benefits the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction firms (EPCs), which can address issues prior to demobilization, as well as asset managers and operations and maintenance (O&M), which can establish a thorough performance baseline. Our analysis found a high level of anomalies detected at commissioning, followed by a lull in the year one of operation, followed by a large and sustained increase beginning in year two. This suggests that asset owners should opt for high-detail commissioning inspections before the COD, as unresolved issues will become present later on, causing operational challenges and inefficiencies. By conducting a meticulous commissioning inspection, teams can identify and address potential performance issues before they manifest. In turn, this reduces the transfer of risk to the asset owner and improves efficiency for EPCs, asset management, and O&M teams with a strong baseline at the start of the asset’s lifecycle. Aerial thermography coupled with accurate data post-processing software enables this both quickly and affordably.
The scatter plot illustrates two anomaly types. The “Diode” classification refers to activated bypass diodes or multiple degraded cells corresponding to a single bypass diode. The “String” classification refers to an entire string of series-connected PV modules that are offline. The x-axis is days after COD, and the y-axis is anomalies normalized by MW for the inspection.
The data set used to support this conclusion is comprised of 347 aerial PV inspections across 4,723 MW of PV systems. 96% of modules inspected are Bloomberg Tier 1, representing 12 manufacturers. Inspection times ranged from the commissioning inspection through 1,000 days past the COD. The data for this data set was collected through a standardized and proven method. The flights were conducted according to a pre-programmed standard operating procedure (SOP), and imagery being high-resolution color (RGB) and infrared (thermal) imagery at either 5.5 cm/px (typical for US preventative maintenance inspections) or 3.0 cm/px (IEC TS 62446-3:2017 compliant, typical for commissioning and warranty claims) with detector sensitivity of less than 50 mK. Click here for more information on our data requirements and flight guidelines.