How to Establish When to Repower Solar Projects
Most solar components including solar panels, inverters, and batteries are built with durability in mind. Nevertheless, these components are still prone to wear out at some point in time, leaving many PV professionals wondering when it is best to repower them.
Well, there is no specific answer to this question since the right time to repower your PV hardware will depend on the unique circumstances of the project. Still, most solar panel experts agree that the right time to repower is when the power output of the PV hardware has declined from the expected projections, usually because of aging.
It is estimated that at least 67 GW of solar capacity in the U.S. and Europe will reach 20 years old. While these systems can still perform even after 20 years, some asset owners and operators opt to repower them before 20 years.
Reasons to Repower
Two main reasons that drive the decision to repower are the rising demand for solar energy generation and reduced hardware costs. Renee Kuehl, who is EnergyBin’s director of marketing and sales has said that the falling price of enhanced technology has seen most asset owners and operators listing solar panels for sale, even those in decent condition, and replacing existing hardware. As a result, this helps to offset the cost to repower.
Developers and IPPs in the utility market are focused on increasing energy yields and gaining economies of scale. In regards to this, Laid Sahraoui, who is the founder of R3 Tech and also the managing director, said that utility-scale companies ought to replace some or all of the hardware components if new hardware guarantees better and enhanced electrical and mechanical features. According to him, these features could include light-induced degradation (LID), potential induced degradation (PID), tension range, fewer hotspots, and more.
Other than the utility market, repowering is also finding footing in both the commercial and residential markets. Commercial markets are repowering to increase their energy yield while homeowners and businesses are repowering and taking advantage of upgraded hardware to only meet their energy consumption levels but also gain incentive programs.
In fact, Sahraoui mentioned that businesses have made repowering part of their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy. Dean Holleman, who is the supply chain manager at an installer company in Florida has also noted that homeowners are utilizing repowering to deal with issues like blackouts and increased energy bills.
He said that homeowners are requesting next-generation inverters, high-wattage modules, and battery storage add-ons. He went ahead to say that there has been increased interest following the extension of the Inflation Reduction Act of a 30% investment tax credit.