Reducing costs with smart maintenance in Solar Assest Management

In this growing phase of solar industry, the market for asset management and utility-scale operations & maintenance (O&M) is expected to reach 390 GW by 2020.

As the Indian government floating the tenders for 25years and 12 years period asset management and O&M has become even more important to maximize system performance and long-term profitability.

In such scenario, Solar Players are looking for the best strategies for ongoing management of Solar PV plant installations financially using asset management and technically using operations & maintenance.

To optimize the conservation and delivery of power, the evolution of our current electrical grid come upfront using new technology. We call it Smart Grid.

Smart Grid is the concept of widely distributed power generation facilities. Keeping in mind the future requirement of more energy generation sources such as solar power plants and wind farms will be controlled by a larger number of organizations and individuals.

Where some years ago, a relatively number of power plants were controlled by a relatively small number of utilities. In the future, the old system of “one-way” power flow will not be sufficient for the operation of grid. Therefore a new way of integrated systems is developed which offers two-way power flow, control and information sharing. According to new technology developed, Utilities will have to adjust the grid architecture which helps to grab more and more distributed generation and to create a better optimized solution.

In the smart grid technology, two-way communications are helpful in more security. A Smart Grid technology includes a reliable and secure electricity infrastructure which can meet future demand growth and achieve each of the following which are as follows:-

  • Use of more and more digital information and controls technology to improve reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric grid
  • Dynamic optimization of grid operations and resources, with full cyber-security
  • Integration and formation  of distributed resources and generation
  • Incorporation and formation of demand response, demand-side resources
  • Implementation of `smart’ technologies for metering, distribution automation, etc.
  • Use of `smart’ appliances like SCADA.
  • Establishment and formation of advanced electricity storage and peak-shaving technologies like flow batteries.
  • Way to send time to time information for consumers like GSM based technology.
  • Interoperability of appliances and equipment connected to the electric grid
  • Minimisation of unnecessary barriers for adoption of smart grid technologies, practices, and services.

If the solar panel have to work at their rated output and efficiency then it should need to be maintained. But there are so many failure modes which is observed during operation of PV modules. It is not so easy to check the issue of every module with sensors to detect failure modes. Hence, Condition based maintenance uses sensors to monitor the state of various components of the plant to fix failure modes. A vigorous condition based analytics engine is helpful to optimize plant cleaning schedules (thus reducing usage of water required to clean panels), reduce repair costs, improve plant output and efficiency. Module Failure involves increase in shunt and/or series impedance, hotspot failure (cell mismatch, shading), anti-reflective coating deterioration. Issues in interconnects and joints involve short/ open circuits in wiring and interconnects. Overheating or under sizing of bypass diode may lead to thermal failure of the diode. Dust Accumulation (soiling) on solar panel surface is another issue which directly affects the efficiency of panel. It is found that dust accumulation of 1.5g/m2 on a polycrystalline panel which is tilted at 30º outdoors led to a power loss of 34% in comparison to a clean panel.

Smart grid technology include advanced, highly-integrated inverters; new systems of communication; and less costly, more reliable components which will accommodate two-way power and information flows. The heart of a PV system is inverter or controller. The PV penetration is directly dependent on production volume. As the production volume is increased the cost of inverter is coming down. Inverters offers better performance, higher reliability and more integrated features can also reduce the lifetime cost per kilowatt-hour.

Maximum energy harvest includes various factors, system efficiency, reliability and uptime and the system ability to adapt dynamically changing irradiance conditions. The maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm is the key deciding factor for maximum efficiency of solar power plant. Another key deciding factor to improve energy harvest is to manage weather-related irradiance transients.

Unlike traditional generation sources, solar power systems are inherently variable due to weather and fluctuations in cloud cover.

To manage solar PV plant, now we use Operations control room which includes SCADA and other operation devices. It enables around-the-clock access for information and smarter operations. Therefore, as a result, it leads to the following

  • Maximize energy production
  • Minimize downtime
  • To Reduce lifecycle operations
  • To Reduce maintenance costs

The fast decrease in solar energy cost is helping the country to move towards its ultimate goal of producing more renewable energy. Asset Management & Right operation & Maintenance strategy is helping to create a new lifestyle for consumers which also cost effective. Energy cost of solar is now a days less than the energy cost from coal in India. The fast decrease in solar energy cost is helping the country to move towards its ultimate goal of producing more renewable energy.