Transfer of advanced diagnostic technologies for solar power plants to Ener-Pacte

Published on 07/01/2022

The CEA transfers to Ener-Pacte an innovative advanced diagnostic technology combining imaging and electrical measurements. The solution enables the classification of defects identified on photovoltaic strings and the evaluation of associated losses.

In partnership with Ener-Pacte, the CEA has developed a complete software solution, which embeds the results of work initiated as early as 2014 in the framework of the ITE INES.2S.

The two software prototypes, named Aspire and IV-Diag, now have a degree of maturity that allows them to be quickly taken in hand by the company and integrated into the target environment. They contribute to reinforce Ener-Pacte's offer aiming at securing, optimizing productions and guaranteeing the profitability of photovoltaic plants.

In a growing and highly competitive photovoltaic (PV) market, plant diagnostics using intelligent and efficient methods is one of the most active research areas, leading to the emergence of innovative solutions on the market, such as aerial infrared imaging.

Infrared imaging, or thermography, stands out as a low-cost, efficient solution for quickly observing rooftop plants that are not easily accessible or large-scale plants on the ground. Using drones, it should reduce inspection costs, which can represent up to 40% of operating expenses, directly affecting project profitability, and in particular the levelized cost of energy produced (LCOE).

The advanced PV diagnostic technology uses thermographic images acquired by drone, for defect inspection and quantitative/qualitative loss estimation. This technology is complementary to Ener-Pacte's unique PV plant assessment tool, which serves its Serenity Secure offering in this market.

The collaboration between CEA and Ener-Pacte has brought these technologies to maturity.  Enabling efficient operational use.

The ASPIRE software can import multiple information such as infrared images, RGB images in the visible range, electrical diagrams of power plants, voltage-current measurements. It also enables the user to manipulate and visualize data in an intuitive way.

Segmentation algorithms ensure the automation of diagnostics.

The detection of good or defective modules by segmentation algorithms and thermal analysis is ensured with an accuracy of 91.4% and 93.5%. The model then allows the classification of defects of faulty modules (hot spot, diodes, PID, disconnection, junction box).  The algorithms are the subject of a patent application.

Finally, the estimation of power loss by coupling imaging and electrical information also gives good results: it is consistent and complies with the losses of known defects.

The IV-Diag software allows to analyze data from IV tracer and to extract the type of defects. The software has been validated on several data sets from the field.

Its current performances are very promising in terms of detection and identification rates.

Thanks to an automated and reliable fault detection, Ener-Pacte will be able to optimize its diagnostics and reduce its audit and operating costs.

Launched in 2019, INES.2S is an Institute for Energy Transition (ITE). Led by the CEA at INES, its mission is to develop an industrial sector for the integration of photovoltaic solar energy in France, in support of the French Multiannual Energy Programming Act.  The ITE INES.2S is co-financed by the French government under the Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir (ANR-10-IEED-0014-01).

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