Blame it on Sun! Average Solar PLFs not satisfactory

Wednesday, 5 August, 2015

Poor performance of solar projects has become a cause of worry recently. As a benchmark the large field based projects were expected to generate around 1500 kWh of electricity for each KW of solar panels installed in the Northern India. However the performance of these projects has not been satisfactory. The table below shows the actual number of units generated per kW of solar panels as recently announced by the Agencies for different Northern India states for the year 2012-13.

StatesCapacity (MW)2012-13 (PLF)2012-13: Equivalent kWh generated per kW
Uttar Pradesh78.16%714.816

Few solar plants have not reported data for all the months for various reasons. Overall the data has released for 69 power plants and the corresponding average PLFs of all the states for the year 2012-13.

Of course some of these projects have generated electricity as expected but many have not.

The performance of the project in terms of electricity generation depends on the quality of panel. It implies that a 15% efficiency panel should convert 15% of the radiation falling on it to the useful electricity. Also polysilicon panels should not be having performance degradation more than 0.7% to 1% year on year.

The electricity generation will also depend on the sun radiation available in that year.

Experts say that the generation also depends on the tilt of the panels installed. The radiation available on a flat surface would be significantly lower than that on the tilted surface.

Jury is still out to understand what caused the poor performance of these projects. A high radiation with humid condition does not support high generation for example. Year 2013 remained a year when Indian witnessed an extra-ordinary monsoon. PID problem of Indian solar panel manufacturers still remain and need to be resolved.

For the time being we can blame it on Sun! Sun was not kind enough to provide sufficient radiation. Hopefully we get better radiations and better generation in future years and for the two years that have already passed.