What determines Power Plant Performance?
The amount of energy delivered by the energy system depends on a number of factors, but the primary factors are:
- Size of the system
- Amount of raw materials such as irradiation (sunlight), water flow rate, biomass or wind speed it receives
- The total efficiency of the system
In general energy systems are exposed to a variety of losses some due to environmental factors, some due to device limits and others due to manufacturing defects. The losses will include things such as soiling or shading (dust for PV or solar thermals), manufacturer’s tolerance, temperature, voltage drop, inverter or converter efficiency, orientation and tilt angle of the module for PV, degradation of solar modules, plus any other location specific factors that could have impact on the system’s performance.
But these are not only the factors that determine energy system performance. Favorable wind speed, Biomass, water flow rate, solar radiation and best of the equipments cannot alone perform well if the system is not designed or installed in a technically competent way. Some of the factors responsible for under performance of a power plant are:
- Poor system design
- Poor quality equipment and materials
- Under sizing of equipments
- Improper installation and integration of equipments
- Mismatching of different parameters
- Unstable grids
- Frequent equipment failure and shut down
- Potential Induced Degradation (PID)
- Inadequate O&M planning etc.
A well designed and installed power grid-connected system should have fault free operation for many years. Poor system design can result in the system operating at voltages and consequently the disconnects from the grid for long periods. Poor system design relating to the systems also force inverter to operate very inefficiently. In many cases, owner has been given a prediction of unrealistically high energy yield from their energy system. This usually occurs due to ignorance or poor estimation of system losses by the system designer or the consultant. Some of these losses are easy to rectify but some require in-depth understanding and testing of the system and components.