FSEC’s Newest Completed Project Determines Cost Validity of Intelligent Diagnostics Using String-Level I-V Curves and Machine Learning

With photovoltaic plants having the highest installation rate of all power sources in the last five years, the need for monitoring these plants is essential in maintaining power output and life expectancy. Are the current industry standard utility-scale monitoring systems enough to appropriately detect possible faults that could lead to power failure? A team at the Florida Solar Energy Center has spent the last five years studying the value proposition of high-resolution monitoring systems (HRMS)  to determine its effectiveness on levelized cost of energy (LCOE) reduction.

The popular infrared imaging technique is good at detecting hotspots but under certain conditions only. The top and bottom are IR images of a string showing a specific PV module. The module showed no signs of hot
spots when string was operated at MPPT. But, the same module showed signs of checkered pattern hotspots when operated at off-MPP.

“The project’s purpose is studying the value of monitoring the modules and strings in detecting the photovoltaic (PV) faults and its impact on LCOE,” Manjunath Matam, post-doctoral scholar at FSEC and project lead, says. “The PV modules and strings are all connected to the inverter and it is hard to detect the faults using the inverter data. Sometimes, the faults never get detected and cause huge power losses in the long run.”

So how does this U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored project benefit PV plant owners and investors? “The PV plant owners, investors, utility companies, stakeholders have no idea whether installing the HRMS equipment to monitor the modules and strings will add value, produce more power and generate revenue, or if it will just be an additional expenditure,” Matam says. “Our project, through its simulation, hardware, indoor and outdoor experiments, has observed that installing the HRMS equipment to monitor the strings will add value and is very beneficial since it can detect the faults, even the low power-loss causing faults, after a reasonable amount of time.”

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EnergyWhiz 2022 Returns to FSEC ERC with New Events, Same Competitive Spirits

Neither the cloudy forecast nor pandemic concerns were enough to discourage the teams that came together on Saturday, April 30th for the 2022 EnergyWhiz event!

EnergyWhiz is a daylong celebration of sustainable solutions, creativity and engineering skills, where students from throughout Florida came together to showcase their renewable energy projects. This year, elementary, middle, and high school teams designed and built everything from solar-powered electric vehicles to sun-powered cookers and “green” homes for pets and other critters to showcase and share at EnergyWhiz.

The event, presented this year by sponsor Florida Power and Light Company, is hosted each year at the FSEC Energy Research Center, a research institute at the University of Central Florida, located at the Cocoa Campus of the UCF and Eastern Florida State College.

This year’s EnergyWhiz competitors participated in one of six categories: Junior Solar Sprint, Critter Comfort Cottage, Energy Inspired Art, Energy Innovations, Energy Transfer Machine and the Solar Energy Cook-off. Each competition category incorporates some type of energy efficiency measure or renewable energy technology. 

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City of New Smyrna Beach Hires FSEC to Conduct Building Audits and Solar Studies

New Smyrna Beach seal. In center of seal are boats without sails sitting in water, with palm leaves on edges.

The City of New Smyrna Beach is considering solar and renewable energy resources for their municipal facilities, and has hired FSEC’s interdisciplinary team of energy analysts and solar engineers to conduct energy audits and solar feasibility assessments for 18 facilities.

The energy audits will identify cost-effective measures for reducing building energy consumption in order to optimize the expenditures for solar equipment. The solar feasibility assessment will detail the best options for renewable energy, including sizing, installation costs, maintenance costs, system life expectancy, and return on investment. FSEC will provide recommendations for reducing the city’s overall electrical demand and also for developing attainable goals for incremental solar and renewable energy installations.

For more information, contact Faith Miller, New Smyrna Beach Maintenance Operations Director, fmiller@cityofnsb.com, or Colleen Kettles, FSEC Program Director, ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.

FAQ: New Legislation Regarding Solar Energy System Certification (HB 1021)

By Colleen Kettles
July 27, 2017

The 2017 Florida Legislature, through HB 1021, amended the Solar Energy Standards Act of 1976 that governs the certification of solar energy systems manufactured or sold in Florida.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

Florida Legislative amendments in HB 1021 do not relieve FSEC from the legislative mandate to develop and adopt standards for solar energy systems, nor does it remove the authority of FSEC to test and certify solar energy systems.

Q:  How does HB 1021 specify the certification of solar energy systems that are sold or manufactured in the State of Florida?

A:  HB 1021 specifies solar energy system certification as follows:

“(d) All solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state must meet the standards established by the center and shall display accepted results of approved performance tests in a manner prescribed by the center, unless otherwise certified by an engineer licensed pursuant to ch. 471 using the standards contained in the most recent version of the Florida Building code.”

HB 1021 defines the ‘center’ to mean “the Florida Solar Energy Center of the Board of Governors.”

Chapter 471 (F.S.) specifies the manner by which licensed Florida engineers are authorized to submit design documents to local code enforcement jurisdictions for permitting as follows:

471.0195 Florida Building Code training for engineers.—All licensees actively participating in the design of engineering works or systems in connection with buildings, structures, or facilities and systems covered by the Florida Building Code shall take continuing education courses and submit proof to the board, at such times and in such manner as established by the board by rule, that the licensee has completed any specialized or advanced courses on any portion of the Florida Building Code applicable to the licensee’s area of practice. The board shall record reported continuing education courses on a system easily accessed by code enforcement jurisdictions for evaluation when determining license status for purposes of processing design documents. Local jurisdictions shall be responsible for notifying the board when design documents are submitted for building construction permits by persons who are not in compliance with this section. The board shall take appropriate action as provided by its rules when such noncompliance is determined to exist.

History.—s. 38, ch. 2000-356; s. 23, ch. 2002-299; s. 12, ch. 2009-195.

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