Analyzing PV Plant Data at Project Turnover

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

[caption id="attachment_410" align="alignright" width="300"] One of two new PG&E solar generation plants engineered and constructed by the Energy Alternatives Division of Cupertino Electric, Inc.[/caption]

As our Energy Alternatives Division at Cupertino Electric wraps up its latest solar generation projects for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) totaling 30 megawatts (MW), I'm fascinated with the enormous amount of pv plant data the two systems are producing each day. The 20 MW and 10 MW systems' numerous weather and electrical sensors log data every single minute. Depending on the size of the solar system, that can add up to three million data points logged per day. Although I'm used to the big data produced by systems of this size, I'm still impressed every single time a new system becomes fully operational.

As we turn large solar projects over to our customers, the massive amount of data helps us ensure that the plant is operating at optimum levels. One of the most important things I do at project turnover is ensuring that all sensors report accurate data. A lot of steps are involved in getting data from the sensors to my desk. So even though sensors may have very high accuracy, it is possible to get data that doesn't represent reality. By correlating sensors against one another, I catch problems early and make sure everything is reporting properly before this data is used to maximize system performance.

Our multi-year partnership with PG&E began in 2011, and we are proud of the relationship that we have built with them during the construction of five solar generation projects. In the past three years, Cupertino Electric has engineered and constructed 96 MW worth of solar projects for PG&E. In total, we've installed more than 385,700 solar modules on the five sites. That's a lot of data being collected and analyzed every single day.

Talking about capturing, analyzing and presenting PV plant data is a passion of mine. In the past, I've been lucky enough to present at the PV Plant Optimization conference and Solar Power International. This year, I'm going to be presenting at Intersolar North America on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. where I will discuss how to get the most out of a photovoltaic monitoring system. I hope to see you there—just as soon as I analyze the data from this latest PG&E plant.

About Saurabh Samdani

As a technology & optimization specilast for Cupertino Electric’s Energy Alternatives Division, Saurabh Samdani, P.E. is responsible for system performance analysis of more than 150 megawatt (MW) of Cupertino Electric’s solar power installations. He also oversees new product evaluations, design optimization, commissioning and start-up of solar plants.

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