Project Name: Cost Reduction through Proactive Operations of Photovoltaic Systems
Funding Opportunity: PVRD2
SETO Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Cocoa, FL
SETO Award Amount: $1,599,821
Awardee Cost Share: $177,800
Principal Investigator: Joseph Walters

This project is developing a new monitoring system for characterizing fielded photovoltaic (PV) modules in order to provide greater certainty and detail in fielded energy output and degradation rates over their lifetimes using a central inverter. New methods for data analysis and interpretation algorithms are under development in order to detect degradation trends and mechanisms in the fielded systems. Additionally, the project is developing a model to examine the effects that different resolution PV monitoring systems have on the levelized cost of electricity from utility-scale plants based on their design, size, location, environmental considerations, and expected system lifetime.


The project team is developing a high-resolution monitoring system that has diagnostic-prognostic capabilities. The system will automatically measure IV curves at the string and module levels, providing a much richer view into the direct current performance of the PV system. Additionally, it will incorporate software capable of quantifying power and energy losses in the field, and define the location and mechanism of the power and energy loss. The prognostic system will be capable of predicting certain failures before they occur and giving system operators the opportunity to more efficiently plan operations and maintenance activity in order to lower costs and increase yield over the life of the system.


The project will result in new strategies for monitoring the performance of PV plants on different levels, such as modules, strings, and combiners, and in the new data analysis algorithms capable of extracting degradation trends and mechanisms from the PV performance data. The team will also create a model for the levelized cost of electricity and a best practices guide that will gives designers and plant operators a deeper understanding of the trade-offs of implementing different monitoring strategies.