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pvDesign® accelerates and optimises the Design of Utility-Scale Photovoltaic plants

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - pvDesign (pvDesign® accelerates and optimises the Design of Utility-Scale Photovoltaic plants)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2021-08-31

Developing a utility-scale solar PV power plant requires performing a thorough feasibility analysis (FA), and a basic design and engineering study. This not only calls for the maximum degree of optimization in the PV plant design to win a tender while achieving profitability but also increases the proportion of bids to present in order to win one.
With pvDesign software platform, RatedPower is revolutionizing the analysis, design, and engineering of large PV plants: we reduce the execution time from weeks to minutes, improving reliability and decreasing the risk of investment.
The experience gained until now allows us to identify the new key modules and features that our product needs to create an all-inclusive PV solar plant feasibility analysis and design tool. We did an extensive research among our early and potential users about the upgrades that should be performed and that have been demanded by some of the top global leading PV companies. These upgrades include topographical and financial analysis tools and the design of substation facilities for PV plants.
We will also develop a new software architecture using the latest technology to improve the way we deploy our software and we will put a special focus on the Cybersecurity side in order to match the latest standards in the industry.
These functionalities have been taken into account along with a pre-commercialization plan that will set up long-term valuable customers and stakeholders relationships, and a communication and dissemination strategy to become the standard software in the global photovoltaic market.
We made the decision to change the technology we were going to use for our backend architecture in order to make it more efficient and usable and we have deployed all of the endpoints needed for user screens. We upgraded the versions used in MySQL and Java. We also finished the deployment of the frontend continuous integration flow, that allows the different backend and frontend teams to work together in a more agile way.
For our frontend we took the decision to implement a technology for building user interfaces that allows us to design a highly customized app. With the work done our users have a new interface that offers a much better and interactive user experience.
Given that we store important data from our customers, Cybersecurity has always been an absolute priority for us. We have been working together with the URJC cyber security team to develop a complete Control Model that takes Corporate and Product Security to the highest standards in the industry.
We developed a new functionality that automatically removes structures from the layout if the slopes exceed limits imposed by the user. This is accompanied by some easy procedures that allow users to convert different files to the formats already admitted by the software. If the user doesn’t want to delete that structure it has also the possibility to calculate how much earthworks would be needed to install it.
For the financial calculation of PV plants we developed a tool that allows a flexible CAPEX definition and LCOE calculation. Users are able to define a price database inside our software and calculate these indicators based on them.
A complete tool to automatically define the step-up substation was developed. This includes the calculation of all electrical equipment of this installation based on different standards and the generation of several reports and drawings related to it.
For the optimization tool we changed the existing cluster architecture to allow our machines to process hundreds of simulations at the same time. We developed an interface that allows our user to define iterations on the pitch distance and the DC/AC ratio that are later compared easily with the available comparison tool.
We developed a plan for long-term valuable customers and stakeholders relationships that included: training sessions to all of our new customers, regular feedback meetings with our current customers and a monthly newsletter to inform our most valuable stakeholders. We have been able to perform a total of 595 demos and increase our number of customer to 95 from 35 we had at the beginning of this program.
Since the Covid-19 situation led to the cancellation of most business trips, we had our commercial meetings online, and we enhanced our relation with potential resellers. We also certified a pvDesign energy model with a third party recognized in the solar industry.
A plan for communication and dissemination has been defined and executed with the following actions: trade fairs participation, updating our website, media paid promotion, promotional material generation, and construction of an exhibition stand. Since the Covid-19 situation has led to the cancellation of most international trade shows, RatedPower has attended online events on renewable energy by giving talks and participating in panels.
The development of the mentioned new features is giving us a lot of visibility and good feedback from our clients and demos. Also, the pre-commercialization, communication, and dissemination plans and activities performed during this period gave us the resilience to go through the COVID situation with a lower commercial impact than it could have been expected given the situation we are living.
We look ahead for encouraging results during next year. As the EU is taking steps to deliver the European Green Deal and meet the ambitious 2030 climate targets, we expect more regions of the world to go in this direction. We will be the tool that provides fast and accurate engineering for the PV plants of the future.
We estimate that pvDesign currently reduces the LCOE by 5%, as it automates the equivalent of 4 weeks of work in seconds. If we were currently the world standard, the generalised 5% reduction in the cost of power generation that the industry would have seen in the 2019-2020 period would have resulted in additional 33 GW installed.
Furthermore, according to our plan, by 2022, pvDesign will cover not only the feasibility engineering analysis, but also the detailed and pre-construction engineering. We will transform around 8-12 weeks of work into seconds. This will bring to the industry a cost reduction in the energy generated by around 10-15%. We calculate that this cost reduction can boost around 60-80 GW of additional power that, otherwise, if the profitability of solar plants was lower, wouldn't be installed.
pvDesign interface and graphical illustrations
New pvDesign
RatedPower pvDesign dissemination through website
pvDesign: our team.