Maximizing Performance While Facing Wintertime Headaches
Online — Over the past few years, new energy policies have initiated explosive solar growth in non-traditional areas like the Northeast U.S. and Southeast Canada – places that tend to see extreme winter weather.
2015 was no exception with record-breaking low temperatures and heavy snowfall that refused to melt, creating headaches for operators across the region.
While panels cope quite easily with light snowfall, shedding it as they warm up, extreme weather and cold temperatures make this more challenging.
In order to avoid significant production losses, operators typically send in crews to deal with the problem manually, which can be costly. For example, a 2.5 GW system in Massachusetts could make $3,100 on a sunny day from its output, while paying $2,500 for snow removal ahead of time to make that production possible.
But what if rain is coming that would clear the panels naturally or worse, more snow, only to cover them again? In this case, project operators would rightly argue that the maintenance cost for snow removal is not money well spent.
So how can operators make the most cost-effective decisions and the best use of their budgets?
Today’s solar operators need to understand both how equipment is performing and what the weather is doing, particularly when operating sites remotely. Fortunately, there are many new ways to monitor both performance and weather.
Specialized equipment and forecast providers, like Vaisala, allow operators to make weather-adjusted decisions to isolate the specific issue, whether its equipment or weather induced, and understand the type of conditions coming their way.
- Maximizing solar project operations while facing wintertime headaches | PV-Tech >>
- The Trouble with Snow: Managing the performance impact of snowfall | Solar Power World >>
- Winter weather hurts EU 2015 solar performance>
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