Solar assets ‘underperforming’, modules degrading faster than expected: research
Solar asset underperformance continues to worsen, with projects "Chronically underperforming" P99 estimates and modules degrading faster than previously anticipated, risk management firm kWh Analytics has found. kWh Analytics' new Solar Risk Assessment, released this week, pulls together a raft of industry experts to assess the greatest risks to the global solar industry and has identified a number of serious threats which threaten to reduce investor returns and damage the industry's credibility moving forward. The report itself is separated into three sections, detailing the risk to solar assets posed by financial modeling, operational performance and extreme weather. PV Evolution Labs, which late last month reported its annual Module Reliability Scorecard, finding that solar module failure rates have continued to rise, is also a contributor to the report, noting how small differences in raw materials can impact overall system performance by as much as 5%. Tristan Erion-Lorico, head of PV module business at PVEL, writes in the report how an increase in the number of providers of encapsulants and backsheets has also increased the need for due diligence and broader specification on bills of materials for quality assurance purposes. Other headline findings from the financial modeling risk section include how one in eight solar assets "Chronically" underperform against P99 estimates as well as a finding from DNV which has estimated around 2% of energy production losses for single axis tracker systems to be caused by terrain and other factors. The report's extreme weather risk section includes research from Clean Power Research which suggests that wildfires reduced energy production in Western US states by up to 6% last year, on top of research from Nextracker which shows stowing modules at a 60 degree angle can increase module survivability during hailstorms to 99.4%. Nextracker contributed to a feature on solar asset performance during extreme weather events in the last edition of PV Tech Power, published last month, which can be downloaded here. "Allowing these risks to go unchecked harms investment returns and ultimately damages the industry's collective credibility. It is now more important than ever for financiers, sponsors, insurers, consultants, lawyers, and engineers to reflect on our current trajectory and to build new solutions to manage these emergent risks," the report states.