Harnessing Solar Power: Operational Risks and Effective Management Strategies

Hello there, solar enthusiasts! Today, I bring you some essential insights from the recently released 6th annual Solar Risk Assessment by kWh Analytics. This educational piece will glance at some of the risks solar company stakeholders should be aware of in the solar industry. It will be particularly helpful if you’re considering installing solar panels for your home or wanting to better understand the operation of a solar array for your home.

Primarily, the report highlights a variety of risks, including those related to extreme weather and operational risks. In a first, it has also included battery energy storage-related risks. I’m going to focus on the operational risks that solar companies and individual solar panel owners might face.

One surprising revelation is that most financial forecasts tend to underestimate the risks of extreme downside scenarios, or P99 level events. However, according to the data, the risk of experiencing a catastrophic P99 event can be halved if at least four projects are aggregated into a portfolio. This could be beneficial for solar companies bundling projects or individuals looking to invest in a shared solar array for their homes.

However, it’s important to note that the benefit of project aggregation is significantly overshadowed by the advantages of using accurate production and risk forecasts. These can decrease the occurrence of extreme downside scenarios by a whopping factor of 10.

The report also sheds light on a rapidly growing problem facing solar assets, namely, voltage collapse. Voltage collapse can dramatically reduce production by more than 20%, and is estimated to affect over 30% of all utility-scale solar plants. To avoid this, solar companies and homeowners can focus on using advanced string-level monitoring and optimization, proper inverter sizing and configuration, and regularly monitoring for early detection of voltage drops.

Operation and maintenance (O&M) corrective actions are also on the rise as more and more solar assets are put into operation. This emphasizes the need for O&M operators to strategize seasonally, planning for DC issues in winter and inverter issues in summer. For those considering solar panels for homes, ensure that the solar company you choose has a thorough maintenance plan in place.

Safety, of course, remains paramount. The report reveals that critical issues were found in 11% of U.S. solar projects, which required partial or total de-energization. PV connectors were the primary cause in nearly half of these cases, highlighting the importance of using solar connectors safely.

Unmitigated soiling, or the build-up of dust and dirt on solar panels, can shave up to 50% off annual production, particularly in regions with low annual rainfall. Thus, regular cleaning becomes crucial in these areas to maintain optimal energy production from solar panels for your home.

Inverters are another significant cause of lost energy, accounting for 59% of the energy loss resulting from corrective actions. The most common inverter issues were related to components such as the controller, fan, and logic board.

As you can see, there are various factors that can impact the operation of a solar array for a home or large solar project. In my next blog post, I’ll cover the battery energy storage systems operational risks from kWh Analytics’ report, another important topic for homeowners and solar companies alike. Until then, happy solar learning!

Original Articlehttps://pv-magazine-usa.com/2024/06/12/assessing-solar-asset-operational-risks/

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