AI-enabled PV soiling loss database and simulator


Soiling losses occur when solar panels are obstructed by particles like dirt, dust, animal droppings, and more, leading to diminished electrical output. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that as much as $3 billion to $5 billion in lost revenues each year can be attributed to PV soiling.

However, measuring soiling losses accurately has been a difficult task for the solar industry worldwide. As site conditions continually change due to localized weather and a changing climate, understanding the evolution of soiling losses can help asset operators better predict soiling impacts.

Fracsun, which keeps a soiling loss database spanning 22 countries, announced it has formed a partnership with App Orchid, an artificial intelligence platform provider, to offer a soiling loss database and simulation tool.

The Fracsun database is now collecting data on 7 GW of solar assets across various environments. The company said its tool will enable more accurate production modeling and operations and maintenance budget planning.

With a simple query to the database, users can predict soiling losses with assistance from App Orchid’s AI platform. The simulation tool makes use of historical weather patterns, particulate matter, and other relevant data, and integrates it with a probabilistic modeling and decision engine. The application is available for any location in the U.S.

“Our collaboration with Fracsun proves how the predictive analytics and decision-making AI built on App Orchid’s platform can enable the solar industry to be more sustainable while improving profitability,” said Vaibhav Nadgauda, chief executive officer, App Orchid.

The tool will arm project developers with more accurate modeling data, operation and maintenance teams with a clearer picture of operational costs and maintenance schedules, and origination teams with an understanding of which regions are best suited for development.

“Developers and operational professionals alike are often asking for better insight into future costs and production impacts due to soiling for their assets,” said Catlin Matthies, chief executive officer of Fracsun. “This unforeseen impact to project performance has been a source of pain for years and only looks to be getting worse looking to the future.”

IEA estimates that in 2018, soiling caused at least a 3% to 4% loss to global annual energy production from PV. And this is expected to increase to around 4% to 5% this year, thanks to an increase in PV installations in regions highly prone to soiling, economic pressures, and the fact that more efficient PV modules will suffer larger losses to their output due to soiling.

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