Retrofit technical approaches to maximise PV plant returns

June 15, 2018

Full article appeared in PV Tech Power Magazine.

Operations and maintenance | Repowering, revamping and new technologies to retrofit existing solar PV plants offer owners, operators and investors increased energy generation. Antonio Bilella provides a view of each approach to maximise return on investment

Article Excerpt: Deep into over a decade of serious PV plant deployment worldwide, the industry is dealing with ageing solar installations. Business drivers including maximising return on investment (ROI) and shortcomings in the original construction may cause owners, operators and investors to consider technical solutions to increase site performance. Options available for such consideration are outlined here along with examples to help guide retrofit technical approaches.

Underperforming plants. Retrofit solutions include the interventions and measures implemented to an underperforming PV plant. Underperformance factors can be tracked to the components of a system including physiological degradation or poor quality of installed components, modules subject to potential-induced degradation (PID), degraded inverters and distressed tracking systems with unreliable mechanical systems. Subpar engineering also affects long-term performance. These issues can include but are not limited to incorrect DC/AC ratio or cabling sizing causing overstressed equipment. The aim is to bring the solar asset to its planned performance capability and reliability.

Asset overperformance. Alternatively, an investor’s objective may be to achieve overperformance compared with the actual and/or planned baseline in order to maximise the ROI and IRR of the investment, thus increasing the profitability of the investment. For both the above-mentioned reasons, investors are faced with a key question: what can I do in order to bring my asset back to an acceptable performance and/or boost it to a higher level? The answer lies in one of three options: “repowering”, “revamping”, or the application of new technologies.

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