A new analysis from solar lifecycle management software provider Raptor Maps has found that PV system anomalies affected the performance of 2.63% of the 20 GW of solar power output studied – up from 1.85% in 2020.
Using machine learning to analyze data from unmanned and manned aircraft inspections across 20 GW of utility and C&I systems, Raptor Maps’ fourth annual report on system underperformance spans 66 million modules in 32 countries. Classifications in the report span functional units including off-nominal inverters, environmental conditions (including overgrown vegetation) and module or sub-module findings (including activated bypass diodes).
The data suggest that the increase in affected performance from 2018 to 2021 was driven by string, inverter, combiner, module and tracker anomalies.
“Our inspection data shows that solar assets are becoming more anomalous each year,” explains Eddie Obropta, CTO and co-founder of Raptor Maps. “These findings – against the backdrop of increased costs of capital and supply chains – underscore the need to use advanced technology to maximize power output. Operational excellence is no longer enough. Solar financiers, asset owners and asset managers must leverage data and analytics to make intelligent decisions that reduce soft costs.”
Raptor Maps’ report finds that companies sought more in-depth inspections data in 2021. The percentage of drone inspections that were “Comprehensive” – the most granular inspection level – increased from 21% in 2020 to 24% in 2021.
Increasingly more parties are also accessing PV inspection data, according to Raptor Maps. Inspection data owners shared findings with an average of 27 additional users in 2021 – indicating increased communication and collaboration.
Aerial inspections are used across all phases of the solar lifecycle. Asset owners and EPC firms require inspections during commissioning to de-risk assets, remediate issues, create a quantitative baseline and avoid liquidated damages. O&M companies integrate aerial inspections into annual preventative maintenance. Counterparties such as module manufacturers, engineers, financiers and others use aerial inspections for warranty claims, insurance claims, project benchmarks, due diligence and more.
The Raptor Maps report is available for download here.