Raptor Maps Report Looks at Solar PV System Underperformance

A new analysis from solar lifecycle management software provider Raptor Maps has found that PV system anomalies affected the performance of 2.63% of the 20 GW of solar power output studied – up from 1.85% in 2020.

Using machine learning to analyze data from unmanned and manned aircraft inspections across 20 GW of utility and C&I systems, Raptor Maps’ fourth annual report on system underperformance spans 66 million modules in 32 countries. The report’s classifications include functional units such as off-nominal inverters, environmental factors (including overgrown vegetation), and module or submodule findings (including activated by bypass diodes). 

The data show that string, inverter and combiner anomalies drove the increase in affected performance between 2018 and 2021.

“Our inspection data shows that solar assets are becoming more anomalous each year,” explains Eddie Obropta, CTO and co-founder of Raptor Maps. “These findings – against the backdrop of increased costs of capital and supply chains – underscore the need to use advanced technology to maximize power output. Operational excellence is not enough. Solar financiers, asset owners and asset managers must leverage data and analytics to make intelligent decisions that reduce soft costs.”

Raptor Maps’ report finds that companies sought more in-depth inspections data in 2021. The percentage of drone inspections that were “Comprehensive” – the most granular inspection level – increased from 21% in 2020 to 24% in 2021.

Raptor Maps reports that PV inspection data is being accessed by more parties. Inspection data owners shared findings with an average of 27 additional users in 2021 – indicating increased communication and collaboration.

Aerial inspections can be used at all stages of the solar cycle. EPC companies and asset owners require inspections during commissioning to assess the risk of assets, identify issues, establish a baseline, and avoid liquidated damages. O&M companies integrate aerial inspections into annual preventative maintenance. Counterparties like engineers, financiers, module manufacturers, and others use aerial inspections to make warranty claims, insurance claims and project benchmarks.

You can download the Raptor Maps report here.