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Don’t play with PV power

PV energy has become indispensable for power companies. About 390 GW are installed around the world and a growth of 113 GW is expected this year. PES investigates the importance of monitoring.

Why PV monitoring is important

There are many reasons for the success of PV energy. It is decentralised, has a simple technology and, above all, it is cost-effective to produce. In fact it’s the most cost-effective way of generating energy. Most PV plants even pay for themselves thanks to feed-in tariffs, direct marketing, net-metering, and self-consumption. Thus, every hour of sunshine is worth hard cash, which needs to be ensured.

PV energy is becoming more and
more relevant.

Real interest in solar PV power began about 20 years ago. Slowly but surely, the new technology for generating power from sunshine established itself. As it became more popular, the technology was optimised and became more efficient and durable. At the same time, the price for modules decreased, accelerating the spread of PV power.

However, a growing PV market also means rising investments. More and more money from companies or private entities goes towards solar power generation and PV is becoming essential as a reliable power supply. It is critical, regardless of whether or not it is a private residential roof system or a free-standing plant, that every plant operates smoothly and that malfunctions are taken care of as quickly as possible.

Persistently exposed to wind and weather

The basic components of a PV plant generally include PV modules, solar cables, inverters and feed-in meters. The individual modules are connected together and produce direct current from solar irradiation. The solar cables connect the PV modules to the strings and, in turn, to the inverter. The inverter converts the direct current and makes the converted power usable.

In this system, the modules endure the most wear and tear as they are constantly exposed to the weather. Continuous UV exposure, shadowing, and dirt can cause performance losses. The wiring faces similar problems since it is also exposed to the elements that can lead to damage such as cable breaks or short-circuits. It is rare that an inverter fails, but when it does, it has a great impact on the electricity production. Other problems can arise from the grid feed-in: disconnection or throttling.

All of these potential vulnerabilities have to be kept in view to ensure trouble-free electricity production. PV monitoring systems such as the Solar-Log™ from Solare Datensysteme GmbH – one of the leading monitoring system manufacturers – monitor the power yields from the plant and inverter status, triggering alarms when deviations are detected.

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