Although the Milan airport Malpensa is not the nicest place to be, it is just an airport and 50km (!) from Milan city centre, it was exciting last week; being the venue of the Solar Asset Management Europe conference. It was also a perfect platform to present our DustIQ Soiling Measurement System.
Many people that matter in Europe’s solar power world attended the conference and visited our stand as well. So we had the opportunity to hear, once again, that Kipp & Zonen instruments deliver great results, and everybody is waiting for the DustIQ to be available as a commercial product. We had to tell everybody to have a little more patience, since we are improving the DustIQ to incorporate new ideas as a result of feedback from the market!
How DustIQ can help an asset manager
I talked to asset managers that see the advantage of DustIQ even in places that are not particularly dusty, such as the UK and Romania. They have problems in convincing solar power park owners to clean in time when dirty (or not to clean when spotless), regardless of what the O&M contract indicates them to do. Asset managers can take the decision ”to clean or not to clean?” based on the DustIQ output telling them the percentage of plant output lost due to soiling and a balance of the cleaning costs and lost power revenues.
This matches with the general trends to reduce O&M costs whilst maximising efficiency. Technology like DustIQ will help in analysing issues and taking decisions, without having to visit the solar plant, since the charges for labour and transport will not diminish. The solar power sector is professionalising and getting standardised, resulting in a reduction of acceptable costs of both materials and services. It is expected that advanced drone inspections will also lower the number of site visits and add to remote fault detection and analysis opportunities.
Irradiance measurements on site
Our R&D manager Joop Mes explained in a panel discussion the necessity of having high quality on-site irradiance measurements in addition to satellite irradiance data. More accurate local irradiance data can prevent solar asset managers from losing money due to undetected faults or degradation and is essential for calculating the Performance Ratio over short timescales.
As Joop showed, our Suncertainty app graphically displays the uncertainty of daily irradiance measurement that you can expect at a given location and time of the day under various environmental conditions and from different models of our pyranometers. The business case for installing high quality pyranometers on a utility-scale solar plant is easily demonstrated!
My take-away from Milan
The clear take-away from the conference is that solar power remains a booming business for at least the next decade, even in the USA, as the excellent speaker Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance pointed out in his presentation.
After two fruitful days at the conference at Malpensa airport I visited the city of Milan for a few days together with my wife, a fine conclusion to my trip!