Why is it important to maintain solar farms?

June 7, 2024

In many cases, solar farms are seen only as an investment: a sum to spend for the solar panels, inverters, construction and a site where the investment can be made. As the price of solar panels continues to fall, these investments are leading to larger and larger parks, which can cover 10-100 hectares of land (up to 1000 hectares in larger countries). Fortunately, the fall of prices coincides with a dramatic increase in demand for electricity, especially in the renewables segment. The investment cost of such a park may seem high, but the payback period has now been reduced from 10-15 years to 7-10 years, thanks to modern low-cost solar panels and efficient inverters. Considering that panels are promised by manufacturers to sustain 85 % of their original performance by the time they are 25-30 years old, they are considered a good and safe investment.

So, what could be the problem? Why are we writing this article?

Our experience shows that in the real environment solar panels could be faulty, damaged and their performance is greatly affected by external factors. In many cases dust, bird droppings, cable damage, installation and maintenance problems can also cause faults. The payback period for solar investments is below what is expected in the financial plan in the United States and Europe. The amount of energy produced can be affected by many factors, such as the insufficient maintenance of the solar panels and site. The main faults, such as hot spots, can be caused by bird droppings, poorly cut or uncut weeds, etc. What may come as a surprise is that even gravel kicked up by the tires of the maintenance vehicle can cause defects. Most places have gravel roads between the panel lines. Other common faults are string faults, diode faults, or even unconnected solar panels. Detecting these is not a simple task due to the size and location of the parks, but with the right hardware and software it can be accurately detected at panel level and, based on this information, easily fixed.

solar fault

It is important to stress that the cost of investigation and correction of these defects and deficiencies is recovered almost immediately and the lifetime of the solar farm can be extended continuously.

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Benjamin Holló