Aerial thermography study finds offline inverters caused 27% of lost solar production in 2019

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Raptor Maps, an aerial thermography software and analytics company, released its annual report on factors affecting production in PV systems. The company leveraged a subset of its data repository of PV system “digital twins” to query 7,880 MW across 25 countries and 6 continents to help PV system owners and operators benchmark and improve their portfolios.

Aerial thermography is the practice of assessing and monitoring photovoltaic (PV) system conditions using data captured via an aircraft equipped with a thermal camera. The technique is increasingly required by asset owners and financiers for performance verification and risk mitigation.

The study encompassed 31 million modules across more than 800 PV systems and showed that on average, 1.6% of power production is affected (compared with 1.7% from the previous year). Classifications included in the study include equipment (e.g., inverter, combiner, tracker), environmental (e.g., shadowing, soiling), and module-level findings (e.g., cracking, delamination, and activated bypass diodes).

“The rapid growth in solar PV combined with decreasing PPA prices is forcing the industry to find every MWh of lost production and restore it,” explains Nikhil Vadhavkar, Raptor Maps’ CEO. “Our goal is to ensure that existing solar assets are meeting or exceeding expected returns, while providing critical feedback for new portfolios under development.”

Technical information regarding data collection protocols and API reference available at docs.raptormaps.com.

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