In order to evaluate a photovoltaic (PV) plant performance, payback time, profitability and environmental impact, an analysis must be made of plant maintenance needs, module and wiring degradation, mismatches and dust effects and PV cell defects and faults. Although a wide range of studies can be found that show the theory and laboratory testing of how these circumstances may affect PV production, very few studies in the field have covered or quantified real degradation effects and faults using a systematic procedure. The authors have therefore reviewed the conditions of PV plants operating in Southern Europe, examining the most frequently found faults and types of degradation, and they look at how novel technologies, such as geographic information system (GIS) applications, can help maintainers, owners, and promoters to supervise and locate damaged PV modules and monitor their evolution and impact on plant working conditions. GIS applications in this field allow the organization of a geo-referenced database of the system, locating and supervising the thirds of each PV cell in the power plant. With this information, investors and maintainers can exert increased control on the PV plant performance and conduct better preventive maintenance measures. The examples given demonstrate that these sorts of applications can be applied both to large PV plants and to domestic installations.
Part of the book: Solar Panels and Photovoltaic Materials