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ESA 2.0 Report Summary

Project ID: 757166

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ESA 2.0 (Pushing forward irradiation monitoring efficiency in the PV industry)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

With two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions stemming from energy production and use, the energy sector is at the core of the transition to a cleaner, more efficient energy system.
Solar power is leading the forefront of this process: in 2016 it grew faster than any other fuel, and in 2017 the solar capacity installed worldwide exceeded for the first time 100 GW.
While rooftop installations are the most visible pieces of this solar revolution, large (LS) and very-large scale (VLS) installations are the major drive of this breath-taking growth. According to latest data the pipeline of large installations in 2016 is 200 GW, i.e. 65% of total installed capacity worldwide.
Huge installations present relevant operational and financial challenges though, for their magnitude requires special efforts for maximizing performance while at the same time keeping costs for operations and maintenance (O&M) low.
Monitoring the amount of available sunlight is of paramount importance to this aim. Assessing on a real time basis the amount of irradiation available allows to quickly identify production drops, manage diagnostics, schedule maintenance, and timely take corrective actions to couple with system failures or inefficiencies, which translates in an overall increase of production – and hence of revenues.
The problem with large plants is that the precise identification of production drops is complicated by their magnitude. In fact, while production is precisely monitored by small sections, the assessment about the amount of available sunlight is typically performed on much larger areas – typically on one single point –, thus making it hard to precisely plot production against available irradiation section by section. As a consequence, when slight underperformances occur, it can take days before they are noticed, the system failure is precisely localized, and its cause is identified and fixed. This results in losses of production, and thus of revenues, and in low efficiency of O&M operations, for they need to be carried out for days before the problem is fixed and the performance restored to optimal values.
This is due to the fact that, as on today, an array of several devices (i.e. pyranometers, pyrheliometers and sun trackers typically assembled in large, bulky and expensive solar monitoring stations: SMSs) is necessary for performing a complete irradiation monitoring. Both for economic and logistic reasons indeed, SMSs do not allows for a fine grained irradiation monitoring across large plants. The intelligence they allow suffers a major lack in terms of reliability because it is only performed on a single point where the SMS is installed. This translates into the following pains:
(i) for plant managers: poor control on systems performance and, as a consequence, under-optimized production and low maintenance efficiency;
(ii) for oweners and investors: under-optimized profitability from their investments;
(iii) for the society as a whole, for it does not benefit from the full exploitation of the potential for a low carbon, secure, clean and efficient energy system.

The ESA 2.0 project aims at bringing to the market an innovative solar irradiation sensor making irradiation monitoring simpler, cheaper and more accurate than it presently is, aimed at boosting the production efficiency of PV industry, and thus at taking a step forward towards the decarbonisation of economy.
In particular, the ESA 2.0 project has been designed to achieve the following objectives:
• Speed up market introduction and ease market uptake, by delivering no. 30 calibrated industrial prototypes of the ESA v.2.0 sensor and no. 30 industrial prototypes of the ESAnet docking station, both certified according to the relevant EU regulations, and “bank approved” for their use in the PV power plants
• Implement market replication activities involving final users by running pilots aimed at testing the innovative technology in operating solar installati

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first 12 months of the ESA 2.0 project:

• the commercial version of the ESA 2.0 sensor and of the ESAnet docking station have been finalized, with the release of prototype 0 (first of the series). Both prototypes feature all the target key used centered measures aimed at ensuring a seamless uptake by end users, plus additional improvements further ensuring their outperformance in comparison to the technologies commercially available
• N. 3 agreements for running pilot tests in operating PV plants have been signed with international industry players among which Enel Green Power, whereby no. 8 large and very large solar farms in Brazil, France and Italy cumulatively accounting for a total installed capacity of 364 MhW have been selected. The documents signed also include the provision for pre-commercial agreements to be negotiated by the end of the testing period upon requests of the companies involved.
• The implementation of the exploitation and dissemination plan has been started: (i) the strategy and timing for the international extension of the ESA patent has been outlined (ii) the project team has participated to two international events in Europe (iii) one abstract has been submitted to the largest scientific conference on solar energy at European level (iv) the participation as exhibitors to 2 leading international industry fairs has been booked.
• The communication campaign has been kicked-off with (i) the design of the logo and brand identity for the new product category, which will be marketed under the commercial names of “CAPT-PRO” (the sensor) and “CAPT-WDS” (the docking station) (ii) the submission of no. 3 applications to national and international awards targeting innovation-centered projects and products, one of which has been successfully achieved.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

By its conclusion, the ESA 2.0 project will not only deliver to the market a game changing device capable of boosting production efficiency in PV industry by means of innovations at technology, capabilities and cost level that significantly exceed the limits of irradiation assessment tools commercially available.
Thanks to the coordinated exploitation, dissemination and communication plan, and to the endorsement of world market players like Enel Green Power, such simple and efficient single-tool, distributed irradiation monitoring system will also drive:
(i) economic benefits for industrial users, stemming both from optimized production and lowered O&M cost: esteemed increase in performance efficiency: +2%-5%; esteemed increase in revenues: +5%
(ii) environmental benefits for the society as a whole, deriving from the full exploitation of the clean solar energy potential

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