Why quality tests on UK solar facilities are crucial?
PVDiagnosis by Vector Cuatro lands in the UK
With currently more than 10 GW of installed capacity, the UK has become one of the largest PV markets in the world. It is especially worth highlighting the exponential growth of the market under the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme. The RO came into effect in 2002 in England and Wales, and Scotland, followed by Northern Ireland in 2005. It placed an obligation on UK electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of the electricity they supply from renewable sources. The RO closed to all new generating capacity on 31 March 2017 but closures for specific technologies were implemented earlier.
In May 2014, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced the early closure of the Renewable Obligation support for solar farms over 5 MW by April 2015. In the last quarters before the RO closure date, the developers that bet for the development and construction of new projects had to work against the clock. In the hurry to get the projects connected on time, the quality controls of the projects were in some cases pushed down the order of priorities. In this regard, a complete audit of a solar farm plant takes special importance as a way to ensure that all the systems meet the required levels of quality, performance and safety as well as to anticipate the risks and understand any issue that might ballast the production, having also repercussions on the project’s profitability and bankability.
The following table shows some examples of issues and defects found while performing tests onsite.
As demand for solar PV audits (for EPC performance assessments as well as for turnkey transactions) in the UK is becoming increasingly stronger, services of independent solar PV advisors, become ever more important.
Vector Cuatro entered the UK´s renewable energy market first in 2011 as Technical Advisor for solar PV power projects. Since then, Vector Cuatro has participated in the development, construction and commissioning of more than 30 projects totaling more than 750 MW just in the UK. As technical advisor, Vector Cuatro has also participated in sale processes, most notably in the sale of a 253 MW portfolio consisting of 15 solar farms in England and Wales.
In addition to the wide experience acquired as technical advisor, Vector Cuatro currently manages 24 wind and solar farm in the UK, totaling more than 300 MW. In 2015, with the aim of providing an improved service to projects in the UK as well as continuing to strengthen its international presence, the company opened an office in London. Now, Vector Cuatro goes one step further in the market, bringing its subsidiary PVDiagnosis.
PVdiagnosis offers an independent and specialized service designed for anyone interested in assessing the operational condition of a given solar PV facility or portfolio. The main goal of PVdiagnosis is to optimize energy production, to verify durability conditions and to ensure technical and financial feasibility by making sure that equipment and facility contractual guarantees are complied with. PVdiagnosis take advantage of the local knowledge and the real experience gained by Vector Cuatro in the provision of more than 12 GW technical services worldwide and the management of over 1.7 GW for the benefit of its clients.
The main services offered by PVdiagnosis are:
- Thermographic analysis of panels, string boxes and main equipment.
- Inverter performance analysis of anomalies and verification of the supplier features.
- Panel measurements performed by an independent laboratory. Management, analysis and comparison of the results.
- Study and assessment of the on-site weather stations. Comparison and correlation with our own calibrated weather station.
- Calibration of sensors according to the O&M contract.
- Assessment of the facility’s performance (by means of 72-hour test)
- Production of panel analysis reports focused on technical anomalies and incidents affecting claim processes.
- Measurement and assessment of I/V Curves of panels and series, aimed at characterizing and analyzing them qualitatively.
- Quality inspection.
PVdiagnosis is a company that meets the ISO 9001/2008 standards and has an accumulated experience of over 900 MW in auditing PV plants, witnessing and reviewing commissioning and final acceptance tests, analyzing the performance of operational solar farms or independently assessing projects before acquisition.