Investment protection: PVEL, Heliolytics launch natural disaster response service for solar power plants

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Two industry-leading providers of field testing for solar power plants, Heliolytics and PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), have launched a new Incident Response service. Their unique joint offering helps solar asset owners and managers, operations and maintenance providers, investors and insurers prepare for and respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and other force majeure events.

“Natural disasters are on the rise as our climate changes – and so are claims for adversely affected solar projects. To empirically assess the real impact of storms on operating assets and process claims, insurance providers need new tools like Incident Response,” commented George Schulz, Vice President – Clean Energy of Argo Group US, a major provider of insurance products for solar power plants.

Incident Response supports solar PV project stakeholders when natural disasters occur by:

• Quantifying underperformance and mechanical damage caused by the event with aerial testing from Heliolytics and on-the-ground testing from PVEL – both for a pre-event baseline and after the incident occurs.

• Revealing and measuring underlying faults that are not directly observable by eye with advanced thermography and electroluminescence (EL).

• Providing asset owners and investors with the data and hands-on engineering support required to successfully transact on insurance claims and fully address system underperformance.

Testing that goes beyond visual observation is critical when extreme weather and other natural disasters affect a PV asset because damage extends beyond what is immediately visible. Although microcracks in the solar cells of PV modules are not readily apparent, they can create hot spots that will ultimately reduce energy yield and compromise safety. The end results are financial losses and a reduction in the useful life of the solar power plant.

“Together with PVEL, we have observed widespread microcracking from hail and wind even when less than 5% of modules have broken glass. Our advanced aerial visual and thermal imaging provides 100% site coverage, and efficiently identifies regions for targeted on-the-ground EL testing,” commented Rob Andrews, CEO of Heliolytics.

“By working with Heliolytics, we can focus our EL imaging on the impacted areas of power plants to identify individual modules with invisible damage,” noted Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PVEL. “While months or even a few years may pass before cell cracks become hot spots and reduce system performance, it is only a matter of time before this happens.”

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