Independent test laboratory PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) has now tested PV modules installed in more than 1 GW solar projects damaged by force majeure events. The company achieved this milestone by providing electroluminescent (EL) imaging services for on-site PV modules. EL images show latent damage in PV modules that affect the energy yield, safety and financial performance of solar systems over time.
“Field EL imaging techniques help quantify damage to PV systems when hit by force majeure events such as forest fires, hurricanes, and hailstorms,” said Gary Fleming, senior account engineer at PERse, a property and casualty insurance product specialist General underwriter of power generation plants for renewable energy. “On-site EL images can help asset owners and O&M providers repair their systems and ensure the accuracy of insurance claims.”
The field EL images provided by PVEL are similar to X-rays: they show internal cell cracks, thermal stress and manufacturing defects in PV modules that are not visible to the eye. With a special near-infrared camera, highly qualified technical staff from PVEL record EL images on site during the day while the modules remain installed on the assembly systems.
“PVEL has developed an efficient, cost-effective EL imaging process that brings the power and precision of our laboratory tests to equipment,” commented Tara Doyle, PVEL’s chief commercial officer. “Today’s milestone is testament to our dedicated mobile response team that has innovated to support asset owners despite a global pandemic that coincides with a severe forest fire and hurricane season. Unfortunately, due to climate change, these extreme weather events are only going to happen more frequently – and so our team remains on standby to assist global wealth owners and insurance companies. “
During a typical on-site visit, the PVEL field service team will map more than a thousand PV modules per day. PVEL then processes and categorizes the images through a combination of AI-driven machine learning techniques and intensive technical reviews. The results of this analysis are used to validate the size of the force majeure claims and the number of PV module changes required.
“We know that latent damage to PV modules ultimately reduces the energy yield of power plants. This damage has a negative impact on our future asset performance, environmental impact and our return on investment. When a disaster hits one of our assets, PVEL is one of our first calls for field EL imaging on the ground. Your damage assessments provide the level of accuracy and detail required to resolve insurance claims quickly, ”commented Lynsey Tibbs, project manager, solar power operations at Southern Power Company.
While the majority of PVEL’s previous field EL work has supported force majeure damage assessments, the company has also provided field EL imagery to diagnose system performance issues, allegations of improper handling and improper installation of PV – Validate modules and create a basic health project early in the life of a system, before any incident or damage occurs.
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