The case of a PV plant near Udine (Italy): today, after a repowering operation, yields were restored to levels which exceeded initial forecasts.
In this article we are going to tell a case of photovoltaic repowering (or revamping): the replacement of panels already installed in a plant with new modules. Replacing old PV modules with FuturaSun ones is convenient. Here’s why …
An inefficient photovoltaic system.
In 2010 a farm in the province of Udine built a 96 kWp photovoltaic plant, made of thin-film modules with amorphous technology. The plant was originally expected to generate over 100,000 kWh per year but the real performance was lower.
This was far from an isolated case or limited to that technology. Some PV plants are affected by various defects with production losses ranging from 20 to 70%.
The plant before the repowering intervention
Less efficiency, less profit…
An assessment was carried out using SunReport, the monitoring system capable of reading all generation data and comparing it with expected levels, taking into consideration actual weather conditions. It was found that over a 6 year period, from 2012 to 2017, the discrepancy between expected and measured production was on average -30%, resulting in an economic loss of €66,000. It was also estimated that if the plant was left in its original state, over the next few years, from 2018 to 2030, the loss of incentives due to ailing production would have amounted to €210,000!
In this case, the revamping solution chosen by the farm involved actually replacing the modules. All 332 thin-film modules with amorphous 2010 technology were replaced with 384 FuturaSun polycrystalline 250 Wp modules, specially certified for revamping operations and perfectly compatible with previously installed Fronius inverters. The plant went back to generating 100,000 kWh per year and receiving €42,000 of incentives /year, compared to €25,000 it would have received without revamping. A total of 130 thousand Euros were required for the investment, which will be repaid in just over 7 years time.
Graph of incentives and revenues with and without the photovoltaic repowering.
In order to respond to the plant owner’s requests, we added specific modules for revamping to our production, which are difficult to source on the market.
In the Udine case, full replacement of modules has proven to be a winning choice. Most plant owners are increasingly turning towards this solution, but unfortunately it is not always easy to source modules suitable for replacement on the market, complete with certifications required by GSE (Italy’s Energy Service Company).
In addition to modules used for the Udine-based plant, we also manufacture modules with 5 inch cells and 5 amps, that were widely used in 2005 and today are more or less unobtainable. They adapt well to old plants without requiring expensive works on cables and inverters.
The modules made from 72 monocrystalline cells, are 1580x808x35 mm in size with power in the 180-200 Watt range and are supplied complete with certificates requested by GSE (Italy’s Energy Service Company), namely those specified in the 5th Feed-in Tariff System.
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