DOE prioritizes solar power plant performance with Power Factors funding

sunshot initiative financing

Power Factors, a provider for monitoring, managing, and optimizing renewable energy assets, was selected as the recipient of an award by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative. Power Factors will leverage these funds to accelerate its research and development in producing actionable insights through the characterization of PV power plant performance deviations from predictive model production.

“PV data analysis has advanced rapidly, but the ability to effectively characterize differences between production estimates and actual performance has remained elusive. With this funding we expect to provide a powerful new tool for developers, owners, operators, and O&M providers,” said Steve Voss, Power Factors’ Principal Data Scientist.

Power Factors will incorporate this advanced functionality into its existing SaaS-based IoT platform that currently supports over 7,500 MW of PV capacity. Power Factors is well-positioned to deliver due to its existing 250+ years of subject matter expertise and its proven track record of handling big data and data quality issues generated by solar PV systems.

“We are honored to be selected by the DOE for this award,” said Power Factors EVP Steve Scales. “This grant will accelerate Power Factors’ ability to drive solar photovoltaic systems’ energy yields, reliability, and bankability. The DOE’s continued focus on strengthening and assuring our nation’s supply of clean electricity is vital,” added Scales.

— Solar Builder magazine

Case study: A better energy projection leads to more financing for Pacifico Energy

Pacifico energy solar monitoring

When developing a utility-scale solar PV project, accurately projecting the site’s power output is crucial. For its 33 MW Kumenan PV project in Japan, Pacifico Energy experimented with publicly available data before seeking a more precise measurement solution.

After implementing SRA Systems from Renewable NRG Systems (RNRG)—a leading designer and manufacturer of decision support tools for the global renewable energy industry—Pacifico Energy increased the accuracy of power output projections at the Kumenan PV project by up to 14%. The gain allowed the company to secure more competitive financing terms to build the PV plant.

Getting the projection right

As the utility solar industry continues to grow, the need for solar resource assessment to facilitate more accurate power output forecasting is becoming increasingly important. The most critical parameter used to estimate power output is Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI). Because of its direct impact on energy production estimates, miscalculations of GHI can cause critical financial risk for project owners and investors. When Pacifico Energy first set out to determine power output at the Kumenan PV project, they used publicly available, long-term GHI data from New Energy and Industrial Technology Organization (NEDO). Such resources are common in Japan, but are not ideal for every project.

In Pacifico Energy’s case, the weather stations used by NEDO to collect GHI data were located too far from the Kumenan PV project to provide accurate output projections. Instead, they selected an approach that aligns with the solar industry’s GHI measurement best practices, integrating the high-quality irradiance data collected onsite with RNRG’s ground-based SRA Systems with long-term satellite data. According to Nate Franklin, who manages Pacifico Energy’s activities in Japan, ”Deploying finance-grade solar assement campaigns like this one is fairly new in Japan, but Pacifico Energy wants to lead the way towards a high-standard approach to PV project development in the country.”

RELATED: How data can shift the energy market to solar 

Pacifico Energy opted for RNRG’s solution because of its exemplary quality, reasonable cost, and its ease of installation and maintenance. The SRA Systems were installed at the Kumenan PV site in 2013 and collected real-time irradiance data for one year. The monitoring station was equipped with best-in-class meteorological sensors that integrated seamlessly with RNRG’s much-lauded SymphoniePLUS3 data logger, providing measured data directly to Pacifico Energy’s control room. The long-term satellite data were later corrected with the records collected by the SRA Systems, providing the most accurate irradiance input to energy production simulation model.

“The SRA System configuration that is used here is recommended for utility-scale resource assessment campaigns and solar monitoring applications when measurement accuracy is the top priority,” said Dave Hurwitt, VP Marketing & Product Management at RNRG. “Pairing RNRG’s solution with satellite data ensures that deviations between predicted irradiance and actual site conditions are minimized, which is extremely beneficial for PV project developers.”

Better data leads to better results

Once the solar assessement campaign reached completion, Pacifico Energy concluded that RNRG’s SRA Systems helped improve the long-term GHI estimation by up to 14% when compared with the irradiance data collected by NEDO weather stations alone. The Kumenan PV plant has been in operation since early 2016 and power output has closely mirrored RNRG’s predictions. The impressive resource assessment accuracy at the Kumenan PV project led Pacifico Energy to install RNRG’s SRA Systems at six other projects in Japan.

“This way, we can ensure that all of our projections reflect reality,” added Franklin.

Renewable NRG Systems (RNRG) measurement products and technical services are purpose-built for the global renewable energy industry. RNRG pioneered wind resource assessment more than 30 years ago, when the wind industry was just beginning. Today, the company serves multiple stages of wind and solar project development—from site assessment to commercial operation.

— Solar Builder magazine

Locus Energy now monitoring nearly 5 GW of solar capacity in U.S.

Data monitoring is an important tool for growing the impact of the solar installs across the country, and message seems to be resonating. Locus Energy, a solar performance monitoring and data analytics platform provider, says it has surpassed 5 GW of solar capacity globally, of which more than 4.8 GW monitored capacity is in the U.S.

Locus energy

Since the beginning of 2016, Locus has added more than 3.0 GW of monitored solar capacity, an increase of 150 percent. This milestone reflects continued record growth in solar, as well as a growing recognition of the important role that Locus’ asset monitoring and analytics services play in achieving long-term investment return.

To put that number in perspective, according to the most recent Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA)’s Solar Industry Data report, at the end of Q3 2016, there were roughly 35.8 GW of total installed solar capacity in the U.S. Locus Energy monitors 13.5 percent of the U.S.’s installed solar capacity across more than 128,600 sites. Locus has added more than 24,000 sites in the past year, an increase of approximately 23.2 percent since January 2016.

locus energy solar data

RELATED: Locus Energy solutions now available to Ten K Solar customers 

“The solar market is changing and maturing very quickly, which means that operating a PV system efficiently is only going to become more critical over time,” said Michael Herzig, CEO of Locus Energy. “Locus’ long-term commitment to the entire lifecycle of PV projects means that we are uniquely positioned to enable our partners to operate and optimize their PV assets for their entire lifespans. As the solar industry continues to grow and mature, we are looking forward to continuing to help shape its adoption of best-in-class asset monitoring and analytics solutions.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Check out APsystem’s new Energy Monitoring and Analysis website

APsystems just launched a new, redesigned version of its Energy Monitoring & Analysis (EMA) website. Let’s check it out.


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What’s new?

The web-based platform, available for free on any connected device, monitors and reports module-level energy production of solar arrays which utilize APsystems inverters and provides that information to homeowners and end users in a convenient and user-friendly format.

The site also enables APsystems-registered solar installers and contractors to lower their maintenance costs by creating and managing their customers’ PV installation accounts remotely.

Key features of the new EMA site include a more attractive design and a more engaging user experience with an enhanced system dashboard, system management tools and improved reporting functions.

RELATED: APsystems launches all-in-one ArrayApp mobile solar installer tool 

inverter data management system

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The new EMA website is active and available now, the result of a seamless transition from the previous site to the new interface. The added functionality addresses the high demand for detailed data and enhanced capability in a more user-friendly experience for the growing and competitive solar industry.

“The site already hosts tens of thousands of homeowners and end users all over the world who view their APsystems solar array performance online and through the APsystems EMA App,” said Wesley Tong, APsystems chief marketing officer. “These new design improvements now give them an even more in-depth view of their system energy production, improved reporting and additional historical data in a clean, comprehensive and dynamic user interface.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Draker Corp. explains new generation solar data acquisition, control systems

Draker corp logo

Draker Corporation, a global provider of data management, analytics and control systems for distributed power generation and a subsidiary of BlueNRGY Group Limited, announced its new generation data acquisition and control systems for connecting solar power plants with Draker’s monitoring and analytics platform. The new systems will be available for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The data-handling protocols and communications interfaces are optimized for Draker’s monitoring software, which is offered as a subscription service. Both DAACS designs build on Draker’s experience of more than a decade delivering the industry’s highest reliability data acquisition solutions. Each configuration now incorporates two-way communications and control capability to increase operational efficiency and ensure compliance with demanding interconnection requirements in most global markets, including all states and territories of the U.S.

RELATED: Intersolar 2016 Preview: Check out these products making their debut on the show floor 

Draker’s new entry-level solution is tailored for smaller power plants and sites that require a limited number of data collection points. Draker has tightly integrated everything needed to reliably monitor inverters, performance instruments and meters along with cellular network connectivity into a single low-power device. Its streamlined configuration and practical options provide the essential features needed to track, operate and meet performance and profitability goals of smaller-scale installations.

Draker’s new generation flagship product is designed for larger commercial and small utility-scale installations. This system configuration has the performance and capabilities to monitor and control complex sites with hundreds of monitored devices (smart combiner boxes, storage systems, etc.). It draws on Draker’s expansive library of interface software to enable connection to nearly any device and collects data at a fast sampling rate. Draker is excited to be offering this data acquisition and control hardware at a price point that delivers the best value in the industry.


— Solar Builder magazine