Solar Energy (photovoltaics)

Technical Symposium

The Solar Fountain of Youth

Thursday, September 27
3:30 PM - 3:50 PM
Location: 203AB

Abstract Content : Aim/Objective:
To educate the industry on maximizing solar project life expectancy by leveraging our operational experience managing distributed generation solar portfolio, which includes commercial rooftop and ground mount projects. We will highlight key improvements made to extend the useful life of projects, as well as potential pitfalls.

Case study analysis of existing solar portfolio highlighting life extension techniques which can payoff in the long run. This includes extending inverter life expectancy, identifying and correcting underperformance, and mitigation of module degradation and mismatch. This uses PVsyst and Snow Modeling tools for performance and high-level electrical calculations. This also identifies the impacts that weather have on performance. Below are the key issues we evaluated through our process:
• Key underperformance issues
- Inverter availability – how to identify and manage key failure points
- Degradation – recoverable and non-recoverable
- String-level failure characteristics and root causes, and identification of best practices to minimize downtime and underperformance
• Access to real-time data and evaluation
- Upgrading hardware on older projects to access plant level monitoring data and leverage analytics
• Quick degradation evaluation techniques
• New technology used to increase output and recover mismatch, shading, soiling, and snow losses
• Compatibility with new technology, e.g. 600V vs. 1000V / Central vs. String / Modules (new vs. old)

Existing solar projects should not be left to fall apart at year twenty-five. The current designs predicate that the plant will operate like a machine, and at the end of life, there will be no salvage value and will be up to the end of life owner to remove. This can be costly and doesn’t meet the needs of consumers. Our analysis shows that technical and operational enhancements maximize life expectancy and maximize revenue for project owners – it is a win-win.

With a dataset of over two hundred solar plants more than five years old, we found that over sixty-five percent of plants were deviating by more than two percent in accumulated degradation for the first five years of operations and five percent for availability against the original debt model assumptions and we were able to improve the projects to more closely align with the original assumptions.

In this presentation, we will highlight our systematic approach to maximize solar life expectancy, as well as detail specific examples of our successes.


Trevor Curry

Vice President, Engineering
PureGen Power

Trevor Curry has more than a decade of experience optimizing design and providing strategy using economics-based engineering approaches to over 5 GW of clean power plants. He previously served as Director, Engineering at Recurrent Energy and has also worked at Black & Veatch, Sargent & Lundy and American Electric Power. He holds an Executive MBA from Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, a BS in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Illinois and California.


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