NRG Systems, Inc., a Vermont-based specialist in smart technologies, will provide Solar Resource Monitoring (SRM) systems to the Travers Solar Project, a 465 MW solar plant that is said to be the largest in Canada.
The Travers Solar Project was developed by Greengate Power and financed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The project had a total expected capital cost of approximately $516 million. Located on about 3,300 acres in Vulcan County, Alberta, approximately 500 full-time jobs were created during construction.
The facility is expected to produce enough clean energy to power more than 150,000 homes once operational. In 2021, it was announced that Amazon had signed a corporate power purchase agreement to offtake up to 400 MWac from the project.
The solar facility consists of approximately 1.3 million Jinko Solar bifacial solar modules on single-axis trackers in a north-south orientation. Construction began in Q4 2020 and the plant was fully operational in Q4 2022.
Solar project operators need to continuously monitor and optimize the energy output from a solar power plant to keep it running at optimal levels. The NRG SRM solution surveys a variety of meteorological and other parameters to form a critical subset of plant-level monitoring and the denominator in the critical Performance Ratio (PR) metric (energy produced / energy available).
Inefficiencies at the module, string, and system-wide levels can be detected by tracking electrical output side-by-side with accurate measurements of the site’s solar irradiance, temperature, and wind conditions. This information can be used to trigger real-time maintenance and to build optimal long-term preventative maintenance and cleaning programs specific to each site.
At the Travers site, the NRG monitoring system is intended to capture parameters including solar irradiance, module temperature, and soiling conditions, as well as albedo. Because the plant is using bifacial solar modules, albedo is an important piece in determining the solar energy potential available to the backside of the plant’s bifacial solar modules.
Fargo-based Ulteig is overseeing SCADA engineering and integration, and ultimately chose NRG as the monitoring solution because of its previous experience with NRG’s solar resource solutions.
“Their systems offer a unique combination of flexibility and repeatability, allowing for project-specific customization within a framework that is easily replicated across a single plant or multiple plants,” said Mike Crawford, senior market development manager-renewables at Ulteig. “This has been an especially important feature for the Travers project, given the project had strict requirements and contains more than one-million PV modules across the 3,300 acres.”
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