O&M Issues in Solar Power Plant


Soil Erosion:

A naturally occurring process in nature, soil and ground erosion are caused by water and wind.  Sudden erosion can have a deleterious effect on a PV plant.  Loss of topsoil can lead to reshaping of the ground and the creation of channels, holes and slopes in earth.  This could cause racking to shift affecting the ability of panels to generate the energy.  It could also lead to flooding and destruction of equipment.  Proper and frequent site monitoring will alert asset managers to anything out of the ordinary happening that could put operations at risk.

Soil Erosion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformer Leakage:

Routine maintenance that certifies that transformers are in good condition every year helps avoid transformer leakage. A transformer leak can cause land contamination and other safety risks.  Monitoring transformer oil temperature, pressure and level to prevent a transformer from leaking in the first place is the best way to avoid down time issues.

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Inverter Damage:

Monitoring of inverters is of high importance, since changes to voltage and frequency may occur that affect performance as well as the safety of those in proximity.  Inverter damage may lead to the complete failure of the PV plant or partial string outages as a result of defective inverters. Inverter failures are responsible for roughly 80% of PV system downtime.  Clearly a response to any inverter damage must be taken quickly.

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Broken Cable and Conduit:

A broken conduit poses danger of shock as well as chaos on the operating system as charges are uncontained. This is important because broken conduit can cause a cable to break or damage the insulation which can cause a fire and personal hazards.

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Damaged Combiner Box:

With the ability to simplify wiring, combiner boxes combine inputs from multiple strings of solar panels into one output circuit.  Normally 4 to 12 strings are connected to a combiner box.  If damaged, they pose a safety risk as well as a major decrease in productivity.

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Overgrowth of Vegetation:

Vegetation can transform from a benign nuisance in to a major issue very quickly.  In addition to attracting animals that then cause their own brand of destruction, vegetation can shade cells, interfere with wiring and affect structural integrity.

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Cell Browning / Discoloring:

In addition to providing power, UV radiation will lead to aging in panel cells, seen as browning and discoloration.  This degradation in the film leads to impaired output and productivity.

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Panel Shading:

When designing a PV plant, it is critical that trees and other obstructions are cleared.  PV cell electrical output is very sensitive to shade. A shaded cell has a much greater reverse voltage compared to the forward voltage of an illuminated one, it can absorb the power of many cells in the string and the output will fall drastically.  Removal of any trees or structures causing shading will help optimize power output

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Racking Erosion:

Eroding structures can be a nightmare for a PV facility.  Once the structural integrity is degraded, risks to proper water and wind flow within the facility are elevated which can gravely impact the functioning of the facility.  As racking moves, panels are moved from their optimal positioning and energy generation suffers.

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Dust on Panels:

Dust, snow, pollen, leaf fragments, and even bird droppings – all can absorb sunlight on the surface of a panel, reducing the light that reaches the cells.  Clean surfaces result in increased output performance over the lifespan of the equipment.  Routine cleaning should be a part of all O&M plans.

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Having an O&M agreement for a solar farm is a must.  Paired with a monitoring system, many of these issues can be prevented and energy production maximized. If you own a solar power plant and in need of exceptional O&M advisory services, contact First Green Consulting Pvt Ltd.

Posted By: Rajesh Kumar Ghorla (Consultant)

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