A new device to detect PV panel failure

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A new, real-time solar panel fault detection system has been touted by Spanish start-up Clever Solar Devices. The company was established this year and focuses on the optimization of power management in utility scale PV plants.

Bhishma Hernández, CEO of the Soria-based business, told pv magazine the company’s Smart Module device is predicated on digitization of the solar industry and automation of fault finding during operations and maintenance procedures.

The Smart Module is an internet of things platform which connects the heart of photovoltaic energy to the internet and [uploads] data to the cloud,” according to its developer.

The smart module

Image: Clever Devices

Real-time detection and intelligent diagnosis of efficiency problems are done without interrupting production, said Hernández.

The Smart Module system ensures each solar panel in an array or large scale project is monitored remotely and the product can diagnose whether faults are down to under-performance, breakages or dirty surfaces. Manual intervention can in some cases be eliminated and when it is necessary, staff will know the nature of any problem in advance of a site visit. Clever Solar Devices says its system is scalable and can be easily integrated with other digital platforms.

The monitoring solution involves an electronic board being attached to the junction box of each panel and works alongside a web application.

The hardware measures IV curves, production capacity, efficiency, the electrical power of panels and meteorological conditions affecting output.

Panels exhibiting 7% lower yield, as analyzed by the Smart Module.

Image: Image: Clever Devices

The IV (voltage-current) curve of the panel indicates the nature of output problems, said Hernandez, who added, the Smart Module can be used in rooftop solar systems, lampposts and other remote, off-grid applications.

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