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Parallel Events Programme

- Thursday 29 September 2022, 13:30 - 18:30 -

PV productivity challenges and solutions in desert environments

Jointly organised with QEERI

Hot desert and semi-desert areas provide the best insolation conditions for the effective use of photovoltaics (PVs) with the lowest LCOE. However, the extreme weather and environmental conditions that characterize these regions (e.g., high temperature, UV, dust, and in some cases humidity), challenge the PV module reliability, O&M, energy production and its integration with the grid that requires tailored energy management processes. This parallel session aims at supporting industry and policy makers to address these challenges with reference to main issues including: (1) meteorological and environmental data and model integration for solar forecasting; (2) Reliability, soiling, robotic cleaning, PV productivity; and (3) Financial and market development, standardization and policy making for hot (semi-)desert environments.

This information will be updated constantly.


Session 1

13:30 – 15:00
Meteorological and environmental data and model integration for solar forecasting
Description: The assessment of PV productivity requires a precise understanding of short-term solar radiation variability (e.g., minutes to days) as a function of meteorological factors (e.g., solar radiation, wind, humidity, and rainfall), aerosols, and dust accumulation (soiling). The aim of this session is to discuss how to meet this requirement through the discerning integration of meteorological and environmental parameters and the selective combination of forecasting models. Specific topics of discussion will include:
Data wrangling: Collect, curate, and unify diverse meteorological and environmental data relevant to the understanding of PV performance to resolve divergences in resolution, accuracy, and uncertainty
Data enrichment: Integrate exogenous data in multivariate solar forecasting models to improve the performance of solar predictions
Model integration: Combine diverse machine learning and physical solar forecasting models to help improve solar predictions.

  • 13:30 – Introduction (Dr. Veronica Bermudez, QEERI- Qatar)

  • 13:35 – Dr. Ana Maria Gracia Amillo, CENER (Spain)
    “Characterization of solar resource and other PV relevant climatological variables in desert environments”
    Desert and semi-desert areas receive very high levels of solar irradiation which makes them suitable for PV deployment. Both the design of any PV plant and the estimation of the expected PV production and subsequent bankability analysis require an accurate characterization of the available solar resource and other climatological and site-specific variables relevant for the performance of the PV plant. In this regard, desert and semi-desert environments have specific characteristics which require further detailed analysis than other locations. This is the case, for example, of the characterization of the extreme ambient temperatures as well as the daily temperature range, the aerosol content or the ground albedo, which, if underestimated could result in important deviations in the expected power output from the PV plant. This talk will present the specific requirements of desert and semi-desert environments when characterising the solar resource and other PV relevant variables.

  • 13:55 – Dr. Manajit Sengupta, NREL (USA)
    “Availability of satellite and ground data and their use in solar forecasting”
    Solar forecasting has become a crucial component of grid operations as we move to higher penetrations of solar on the grid. Given the complexities of producing accurate solar forecasts there is a need for a community effort to accelerate these improvements. This presentation will discuss the various technologies used for solar forecasting at various timescales important for grid integration, the various methods as well as the data used in forecasting and validation. Specifically, this presentation will cover satellite and sky imagery-based forecasting, numerical model based forecasting and the use of ground and satellite measurements

  • 14:15 – Dr. Antonio Sanfilippo, QEERI (Qatar)
    “Model Integration for Solar Forecasting”
    While a given solar forecasting model may rival others relative to a given dataset, it is easy to demonstrate that no single model can provide the most accurate prediction in all forecasting contexts, given a sufficient amount of data (e.g. covering a whole year). The integration of different models is therefore crucial to improve the performance of any solar forecasting system. In this talk, we will review existing model integration approaches for solar forecasting and outline a new proposal that takes into account  stochastic and numerical weather prediction models, as well as multivariate models where solar radiation (e.g. GHI) is complemented by additional meteorological parameters (e.g. temperature, relative humidity, air quality).

  • 15:05 – 15:30
    Panel discussion
    Moderator: Dr. Veronica Bermudez, QEERI (Qatar)
    Panelists:  Dr. Ana Maria Gracia Amillo, CENER (Spain), Dr. Manajit Sengupta, NREL (USA), Dr. Antonio Sanfilippo, QEERI (Qatar)

Session 2

15:15 – 16:45
PV module reliability, soiling and robotic cleaning, temperature mitigation strategies (including innovative PV module designs) and O&M for desert environments
Description: The climatic conditions of desert and semi-desert areas are expected to provide the best conditions for the effective use of photovoltaics (PVs) and may play a key role in the clean energy transition, as already demonstrated, for example, by some of the lowest LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) reached recently in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region or in New Mexico (USA). Arid and semi-arid areas cover a significant part of the Earth's surface and are defined in general by high solar irradiation throughout the year, thereby promising a high potential of energy conversion yields. However, these regions present extreme weather and environmental conditions, including high temperatures, high UV, dust, and in some cases high humidity that challenge the PV performance (i.e. decreasing the efficiency of the solar panels), the long-term reliability of the devices and operation and management of PV systems. The aim of this session is to discuss and address these challenges and the possible solutions for manufacturers, industry, and developers to increase PV projects bankability. Specific topics of this session will include:
PV module reliability: PV device for prolonged outdoor exposure, including type approval testing, degradation, ageing and lifetime questions for desert environments.
Case studies of real-world field operating conditions in desert environments: this may cover different cell and PV module technologies and various configurations, including bifacial, PERC, n-type, HJT, Topcon, shingled, solar tracking, etc.). Correlation between laboratory testing and field performance, energy yield and energy rating can also be discussed.
Soiling and temperature mitigation strategies and associated challenges. This may include automated robots that are widely employed in desert regions for cleaning solar panels and/or building facades, as well as active and passive anti-soiling and temperature mitigation approaches.
The operation and maintenance (O&M) of solar power plants in desert environment and autonomous and drone-based survey and monitoring. O&M represents a challenge that involves additional costs for the system and is thus considered as a crucial factor for electricity production, reliability, and early failure detection.

  • 15:15 – Introduction (Dr. Juan Lopez Garcia, QEERI- Qatar)

  • 15:20 – Dr. Ben Figgis, QEERI (Qatar):
    “PV Technology for Desert Climates”
    Deserts offer the largest opportunities for PV deployment, but also its harshest operating conditions. The challenges facing PV in deserts are becoming more severe as module sizes and currents increase, and bifacials-on-trackers become the norm. This report summarizes how desert conditions impact module lifetimes, power losses caused by soiling, trends in module design in a desert context, and approaches for mitigating these challenges. It draws on 10 years of continuous PV field testing at QEERI’s desert Outdoor Test Facility.

  • 15:35 – Dr. Marios Theristis, Sandia National Labs (USA):
    “Early-life degradation analysis of photovoltaic module technologies exposed in different climates in the US”
    Accurate PV degradation rates are essential for predicting service lifetime. With a continuously changing PV market, it is important to keep evaluating and publishing PV degradation rates of well-characterized systems exposed in different climates in an attempt to inform the community and reduce risks. In this work, a sample of 834 PV modules representing 13 different PV module technologies and 7 manufacturers was characterized by periodic flash testing at three sites over a period of up to 5 years. The analysis showed that initial stabilization varied among technologies and that initial measured power vs. nameplate ratings varied among manufacturers more than reported power bins would indicate. Some cell technologies (e.g., silicon heterojunction) exhibited power degradation dominated by open-circuit voltage loss, whereas light and elevated induced degradation was observed in aluminum back surface field modules confirming previous studies. The results showed that degradation rates are highly nonlinear over time and that seasonal variations are present in some module types. The analysis found mean and median degradation rate value of -0.6%/year, which is within the PV module degradation rate ranges reported in the past for much more expensive (by ~85%) PV modules. Furthermore, modules installed in Florida (subtropical climate) exhibited twice the median degradation value as compared to the arid and semi-arid climates in New Mexico and Colorado, respectively.

  • 15:50 – Dr. Leonardo Micheli, Sapienza Niversity Roma (Italy) -PVQAT
    “Non-uniform soiling of utility-scale PV power plants”
    The impact of a nonuniform soiling deposition over a 3.25-MW utility scale photovoltaic system installed in Chile is presented. It is found that, if unmitigated, soiling would reduce the annual DC energy generation by 8%, with a factor of 2x between the losses of the most and least affected strings. Most of the losses are registered on the edges of the plant, closer to traffic and unpaved roads. The most soiling intense months are in summer, result of the infrequent rainfalls and of the high concentrations of suspended particles that characterize this season. The revenues and the costs of different manual cleaning frequencies are evaluated and compared to identify the optimal soiling mitigation strategy for this site. In addition, in light of the nonuniform soiling deposition distribution, the possibility of cleaning only selected strings rather than the full PV plant is discussed.

  • 16:05 – Dr. Elias Urrejola, ATAMOSTEC (Chile):
    “O&M challenges in the Atacama Desert”
    During our in-depth analysis of the cost of large-scale PV plants, we found that working on developing a PV module adapted for the desert conditions, working on advanced Balance of Systems (BoS), and working on advanced Operation and Maintenance (O&M) for harsh climates, should be our main goal since these 3 elements mainly impact the LCOE of a PV plant in its complete lifetime. We installed our two first versions of PV bifacial technologies ATAMO, considering all the process steps and different solar materials needed for the fabrication process of the PV modules, in our Outdoor solar platform and starting to gather data. We will present our experience working in the Atacama Desert in terms of O&M challenges.

  • 16:20 – 16:45: Panel discussion
    Moderator: Dr. Brahim Aissa and Dr. Juan Lopez Garcia, QEERI (Qatar)
    Panelists:  Dr. Ben Figgis, QEERI (Qatar), Dr. Marios Theristis, Sandia National Labs (USA), Dr. Leonardo Micheli, Sapienza Niversity Roma (Italy) -PVQAT, Dr. Elias Urrejola, ATAMOSTEC (Chile).

Session 3

17:00 – 18:30
Financing, market development, standardization, policy making for desert environments  
The rapid deployment of PV technologies on a massive and global scale and the increase of PV project bankability in desert and semi-desert environments as a key element of the energy and ecological transition depends on a wide range of multidisciplinary efforts applied in different areas. This session will discuss challenges ranging from installing and dispatching PV electricity to the most recent and most relevant new scenarios involving the market conditions in desert climates as well as analysis of the present market developments and trends, from the point of view of market analysts, project developers and business experts from finance, investment and utilities. Standardization projects and policies for R&D, innovation and deployment, role of policy, trade barriers, regulatory frameworks for grid integration and upscaling of PV in desert climates will also be discussed.

  • 17:00 – Introduction (Dr. Veronica Bermudez, QEERI (Qatar))

  • 17:05 – Dr. Marc Vermeersch, QEERI (Qatar)
    “From idea to products: lessons learned and potential hurdles for new technologies”
    While the solar photovoltaic industry has deployed massively over the last decade, a natural selection has taken place according to the different market segments. For large-scale utility power plants, the main factor is the levelized cost of electricity.  This talk will summarize the major operational components having led to this natural selection and how it will take special care and creativity for new technologies to access similar market segments or create or access new ones; such care and creativity might be particularly difficult to adopt for new technology developers because most of the time these researchers are focused  and passionate about their ideas and achievements, which can literally blind them to – or at least underestimate - the reality of the market and the manufacturing industry. The approach taken in this presentation draws on personal professional experience as well as the strategic decisions made to lead the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) and steer it towards a market-driven, applied research mandate.

  • 17:20 – Dr. Tony Sample, JRC – EC (Italy):
    “International standardization for desert environments”
    The presentation gives a short overview of the existing IEC standards for Photovoltaic (PV) modules. The impact of higher temperature operations (as described in the IEC TS 63126 “Guidelines for qualifying PV modules, components and materials for operation at high temperatures”) is discussed together with ongoing developments of new and revised standards to take these conditions into account. The impact on PV module design qualification and type approval (IEC 61215) and PV module safety qualification (IEC 61730) will be highlighted.

  • 17:35 – Radovan Kopecek, ISC Konstanz (Germany):
    “Desert PV modules: technology and necessity of local production “

  • 17:50 – Yifeng Chen, TrinaSolar (China):
    “Progress of industrial large-area 210mm high efficiency PERC and i-TOPCon technologies and application in desert area”
    This work reports the latest progress of industrial crystalline Si cells and modules. Firstly, we reported the efficiency PERC and TOPCon cells based on and 210 mm wafers at Trinasolar. Secondly, we reported the module design based on large-area high efficiency cell technologies. Finally, we reported the reliability investigation and LCOE study, typically for its application in desert areas.

  • 18:05 – 18:30: Panel discussion
    Moderator: Dr. Veronica Bermudez, QEERI (Qatar),
    Panelists:  Dr. Marc Vermeersch, QEERI (Qatar), Dr. Tony Sample, JRC – EC (Italy), Yifeng Chen, TrinaSolar (China), Radovan Kopecek, ISC Konstanz (Germany)

This information will be updated constantly.