A Review of Fault Monitoring for Utility-Scale Solar Arrays
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica
Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2019 DOI: 10.33277/CESARE/002.001/02
As the solar energy output of the Caribbean grows, so does its need for proper maintenance of such systems. Solar modules degrade with time, and with this degradation comes a loss in their electrical performance. Solar module performance is also affected by common problems such as: manufacturer defects, adverse weather, and accidental damage. Thus, in order for a PV plant to maintain its capacity factor, the plant personnel must regularly inspect and maintain the array to ensure that anything detrimental to their performance is identified and rectified. This paper seeks to provide insight into the maintenance and inspection processes used by local and regional photovoltaic (PV) operators. These insights include the current methods that local PV operators use for fault inspection and maintenance. The effectiveness of these methods will be investigated and the way these methods could be improved will be explored. The
inspection and maintenance techniques will also be compared to the current global standards, to determine whether local PV projects are operating competitively in an international context. Additionally, this paper will explore current trends and innovative methods of inspection, such as thermographic imaging for fault detection and the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for automated/semi-automated inspection. The cost-effectiveness and value proposition these innovative systems have to offer will also be analyzed to empirically determine what local PV operators stand to gain if these systems were developed and adopted.
Solar arrays, fault monitoring, photovoltaic, PV operators. unmanned aerial systems