More: the low average yield of solar parks due to anomalies in power has almost doubled, from 1.61% in 2019 to 3.13% in 2022, which means that the problem has grown by 94% in four years. “A look at many of the statistics we’ve collected in this report – Raptor Maps literally says – shows that we are progressively losing more energy and more money, with an estimated annual loss of revenue of $82 million. [$] for 24.5 gigawatts of solar PV” analyzed in 2022, which the report’s authors translate into $2.5 billion in losses for the global solar industry. impact for the solar industry, the financial impact it should address, is, according to Raptor Maps, “huge” (huge financial impact).

The data compiled by analysts comes against a backdrop of frenzy, a context in which legislative and geopolitical tailwinds are further driving solar energy growth around the world. In the United States, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act allocated US$ 370 billion to renewable energy and triggered an unprecedented demand in the solar industry. Meanwhile, in Europe, regulatory and geopolitical pressures accelerate the shift to renewables, an acceleration that has already manifested itself in 2022, with the installation of 41,400 megawatts of photovoltaic solar energy and the REPowerEU plan, which proposes 320,000 MW of new solar energy from now to 2025.

The Global Solar 2023 report identifies and quantifies revenue losses from Raptor Maps’ growing database of 80,000 gigawatts of analyzed solar systems in 48 countries. “The depth of the dataset allows us to gain unique insight into the health of solar assets on a global scale,” say the report’s authors.

Raptor Maps starts by highlighting these four facts
• Underperformance due to anomalies nearly doubled from 1.61% in 2019 to 3.13% in 2022, a 94% increase over the past four years.

• For sites greater than two hundred megawatts (200 MW), average underperformance due to anomalies has more than tripled since 2019, from 1.10% to 4.04 in 2022.

• The resulting annual revenue losses are estimated at US$82 million (M$) for 24,500 megawatts of tested assets in 2022, which translates to an average loss of US$3,350 per megawatt. If we extrapolate this data to global installed solar capacity (at the end of 2021, excluding residential), that number rises to $2.5 billion per year in lost revenue for the industry.

• Polycrystalline modules show more frequent anomalies at the module and submodule level in the inspections carried out than thin film modules and monocrystalline modules.

• Asset owners are increasingly interested in detailed data (granular data), with 32% of customers surveyed by Raptor Maps requesting extensive and in-depth IEC compliant inspections in 2022, compared to 23% in 2021.

[Bajo estas líneas, gráfico en el que aparecen los parques, por tamaño, y la evolución de las pérdidas a lo largo de los últimos cuatro años].

growing concern
The report authors acknowledge that each solar asset is unique and that the anomaly rate varies significantly. Losses and modules affected by equipment anomalies have grown each year since Raptor Maps began compiling information in its yearbooks, regardless of geography or solar field size.

The trend serves us as a warning of the future -explained from Raptor Maps-, especially knowing that the solar industry continues to climb and the efforts of manufacturing equipment are taking off in the United States (as they are also doing -añadimos nosotros- in Europe).

The power affected by the anomalies is currently 3.13%, but if the losses derived from the anomalies continue at the pace of what has been observed, “this would take us up to 6% in 2025”, warns Raptor, who anticipates another alert: with assets analyzed batches that chronically underperform in relation to what was promised by the manufacturer and growing competition in the sector to offer increasingly lower PPA prices, the growth of losses may end up translating into difficulties for the bankability of future projects.

The dramatic increase in equipment-triggered power loss is causing Raptor Maps customers to seek more detailed information and a more intense collaboration framework with stakeholders.

Almost a third of all inspections carried out in 2022 were carried out at the level of compliance with IEC standards. These inspections can capture accurate temperature readings to calculate temperature deltas, establish a solid view of baseline performance, and provide a more complete prioritization of repair efforts for revenue and safety. In addition, IEC-compliant inspection readings are needed to make PV module warranty claims more reliable, which will continue to be a hot topic as more systems come into operation.

Search results – stored as data layers in the solar farm’s digital twin Raptor Maps – are being queried more than ever, with the average number of users per solar field growing from 27 to 35 in one year. This indicates – they point out from Raptor – both the increasing breadth and depth of collaboration and the need to ensure that access to necessary performance data is fluid and democratized.

The study carried out by Raptor concluded that losses vary depending on the size of the analyzed solar field. Small photovoltaic parks have the greatest variability in terms of losses and the highest average loss as a percentage of their total capacity.

According to the report’s authors, this variability and losses present a unique challenge for commercial and industrial asset managers, who must focus on how to prioritize the correction of high-value anomalies across a broad portfolio of smaller assets.

Asset managers overseeing large C&I portfolios (commercial and industrial) can leverage digital solutions to bridge the gap between inspection and action. In large sites, small bands of losses, a low percentage, over the total field capacity have been observed, but larger solar fields tend to have higher average losses.

In fact, photovoltaic fields between one hundred and two hundred megawatts have shown losses 9% higher than the global average (with an average loss of 3.4%) and fields of more than 200 MW were 29% higher than the overall average (with an average loss of 4. 04%). These losses, the report highlights, place a heavy burden on revenue: facilities over 200 MW are losing, on average, about $4,320 per megawatt, with some fields losing as much as $12,900.

As the size of the solar asset grows, the repair time and the complexity of the necessary intervention increase substantially, which implies, according to Raptor, the need for sophisticated geospatial intelligence via digital twin to locate the exact point of the anomaly or anomalies. These digital twins – warns the report – must be available both in offices and in the field through mobile applications so that on-site technicians can quickly identify, classify and correct anomalies detected in equipment.

Sites of all sizes have seen significant increases in losses since 2019, with the largest solar farms showing the biggest increases (+336%) for parks between 50 and 100 MW, +267% for parks above 200 MW and +168% for parks between 100 and 200 MW.

As solar parks become larger and more complex -Raptor Maps warns-, the managers and owners of these assets must equip themselves with more precise tools to properly manage their assets and quickly solve problems that drastically reduce their yields (problems that drastically reduce the financial return). In this sense -explain the authors of the report-, a centralized and standardized system of relevant data, such as those derived from inspections, or those referring to energy generation, irradiance and equipment maintenance history is essential for the solar industry to grow in a way reliable.

According to Raptor’s report, all anomalies have increased in recent years. Anomalies recorded in strings (set of photovoltaic solar panels connected in series) have more than doubled since 2019, growing by 123%. And the anomalies recorded in investors also grew considerably: +61%. The Module (module) category groups together all anomalies detected at module and sub-module level. The Other category includes circuit anomalies, shadows, and so on.

As anomalies grow, it is increasingly important for asset owners and managers to tie the anomaly to its impact on revenue to adjust decision-making. For example -says the report-, anomalies detected in trackers are the most common (26.86% of all anomalous modules), but represent only 7.94% of losses, while anomalies that affect investors represent 22.09 % of revenue losses (almost triple) when in reality they reach 13.05% of anomalous modules.

In summary, the anomalies recorded in the photovoltaic module chain (string), the inverter and the combiner or combiner box (equipment with electrical protections that gathers the circuits coming from the strings and establishes the necessary outputs to power the inverter on the DC network) were the top three sources of lost revenue due to hardware issues on solar assets inspected last year.

Module age at time of defect
Module age is highly correlated with the proportion of recorded defects. For the two most common categories at the submodule level, cell and diode anomalies, the defect rate grows by between 20 and 30% from year 1 to year 2; for cell-level anomalies, the ratio grows by 495% in modules older than five years.

Modules also have problems early in their lifecycle. For modules with less than a year of installation, cell anomalies are most commonly detected within the first month of operation, while diode anomalies are most commonly present within the first month but continually increase.
as the module ages.

Types of photovoltaic cells
• Inspections on monocrystalline modules detected fewer anomalies on thin film modules (41%) and polycrystalline modules (65%).

• Thin-film modules are 3 times more likely to suffer physical damage than polycrystalline modules and 12 times more than monocrystalline modules (breakage, delamination (phenomenon of loss of adhesion of the different layers that make up a photovoltaic module) and modules warped. (warped).

• Monocrystalline and polycrystalline modules present similar problems, cell and diode anomalies being the most common in both.

The top ten Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) analyzed by Raptor are Jinko, Firs Solar, Trina, Canadian Solar, Longi, 3 Suns, Risen, JA Solar, Hanwha and CPS.

Cell and diode anomalies were most common at the module and sub-module level among the top five module manufacturers studied: Jinko, Firs Solar, Trina, Canadian Solar, and Longi. These two categories of anomalies account for 70% of the observed defects. Physical damage was also significant (18% of module and submodule level defects). [Foto: Raptor Maps].