November 3, 2020 — Product News
Marketplace Q&A: Daniel Ranusa on solar add-ons from Solargis
How would you manage your solar power plant differently if you could see ten days into the future? In this Q&A, we speak to Daniel Ranusa from Solargis about four add-ons in our Greenbyte Marketplace that can monitor and predict the output at your solar assets to help you run them more efficiently.
Marketing Coordinator, Greenbyte
What does Solargis do?
We were founded in 2010 to provide weather data and software solutions that help evaluate the energy production from solar power plants. Solargis solar data is widely accepted as the most accurate in the market, and over the past 12 months has been used for independent performance evaluation of around 20GWp of PV assets globally.
There are two ways you can get solar resource data. The first is on-site measurement using pyranometers, and the second is satellite-based, which is what we use. Both pyranometers and our models can provide that data in real time, but the added value of our system is that we can also provide an independent calculation of theoretical PV energy production. This helps companies understand and improve performance of their operational assets by showing how much energy they should have produced the previous year, month, day or even now. Another of our models predicts how much energy should be produced up to ten days ahead.
Where do you get this data and how far does it cover?
We have global coverage and terabytes of data. This is a really huge database, because we not only store satellite images – both real time and historical – but also data for other meteorological parameters that also influence performance of PV assets. Albedo (which is essential for bifacial modules), precipitation, snow fall, wind speed, aerosols, water vapor, and then air temperature, humidity and so on. It’s terabytes of data, from 1994 until now, updated in real time.
The alternative to using this database is to put high-quality pyranometers on site, which is very expensive. Furthermore, using pyranometers quickly leads to further costs, since getting accurate measurements requires their daily cleaning, regular professional maintenance and calibration. There is a high risk that the accuracy of their measurements deteriorates very easily, because of dew in the morning, snow or they get dusty or dirty. Then, there can be alignment, battery, internet connection or data logger problems, to mention just a few of the 20+ issues we often see with ground measurements when performing their quality control.
Are satellite-based systems more accurate?
Yes, in situations where pyranometers are not properly cleaned and maintained, which is the vast majority of cases nowadays. Our solution is also hardware-free, it’s very affordable and, for accuracy and ease, it’s competitive with a hardware-based solution. We’d be able to take into account whether it’s cloudy over a particular farm, and what impact that might have on production. Unlike with a wind turbine, you can do all of this for solar farms based on the satellite data.
We’ll soon be launching software for detailed quality control of ground measurements of solar resource. This will allow owners of PV assets to understand how many hidden issues they have with their on-site measurements and thus work exclusively with valid measurements for performance evaluation.
This software will be first of its kind on the global market and will help to bring to an end the current lack of transparency around quality of ground measurements. We expect that this tool will help PV engineers to understand that pyranometer measurements typically have many issues and shouldn’t be used without quality control.
Great. That’s the data behind four Solargis add-ons on Greenbyte Marketplace: Monitor Basic and Professional, and Forecast Basic and Professional. Can you explain more about the add-ons and what operators can use them for?
Absolutely. Monitor tells you how much power your solar power plant is producing now or should have produced in the past. Forecast predicts how much it will produce for up to ten days. The main difference between the Basic and Professional products is that Professional goes into more detail, which makes it more appropriate for utility-scale plants. Basic is for smaller plants, and it’s more affordable.
What are the extras in Professional?
They contain every level of functionality we offer, so the data is in higher resolutions for more meteorological parameters and there are more regular updates.
There’s also an integrated cloud vector model. This is special technology developed by Solargis for intra-day forecasting, which covers the next four hours. That means that, thanks to satellite imagery we can predict were the clouds will be and how these will affect production in that time.
How do companies use this data in practice?
There are several use cases of Solargis Forecast. In many countries – South Africa, India and Australia are just three – owners are obliged to tell grid operators how much electricity they’re due to produce today, tomorrow and sometimes up to ten days ahead. With Solargis Forecast, we help solar operators to meet those obligations, and this helps the grid operators to balance the grid. And energy traders use forecasts to help them make better decisions for buying or selling energy.
Operators can also use them to optimize their O&M decisions. They can prepare for strong winds, rain, snow, and for low or high temperatures. This helps them to optimize O&M tasks.
Solargis Monitor data is mostly used to validate and gap-fill ground measurements of solar resource. Subsequently it is used to check on regular basis whether the performance of a PV plant is as it should be. Solargis data is increasingly being in place of ground measurements used as a basis for performance guarantee contracts. We believe that the global market will move further in this direction – and the new ground measurement quality control software I mentioned earlier will play a large role in that.
How long have you been working with Greenbyte?
We started our relationship in October 2019, just before last year’s Greenbyte Forum. We knew that several of our customers were also working with Greenbyte and, while our systems weren’t connected, we see great value in a strong partnership.
The goal of the collaboration is that the systems connect, so that Greenbyte customers can purchase and see our data in the Greenbyte interface. So far, it’s been amazingly smooth, and we’re excited about the amount of value these Solargis add-ons can bring.
Interested to see how you can leverage Solargis add-ons to suit your needs? Check out our Marketplace!