Tips for determining when to repower solar projects and update older equipment

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Marketing Communications Manager Melissa Ann Schmid said, energy bin

Solar panels, inverters, batteries, and other components are built for longevity and durability. However, like all technology, PV hardware is neither permanent nor immortal.

A big question on the minds of PV professionals overseeing asset portfolios is when is the right time to repower?

The answer depends on your project specific situation. Most industry experts agree that it’s time for power generation to drop relative to expected projections. Aging PV hardware is often the root cause of this scenario.

Over the last decade, 67 GW of solar capacity I am 20 years old. Most of these systems are located throughout Europe and the United States. These systems may have worked well beyond his 20 years and will continue to do so, but some property owners and managers choose to put them back into service sooner than his 20 years. doing.

What made you decide to power up?

Credit: Namaste Solar

Declining hardware costs and increasing demand for solar power are the top two reasons for power cycling. Renee Kuehl, Director of Sales and Marketing at energy binA B2B exchange, , sees sellers listing year-old solar panels for resale.

“As the price of enhanced technology falls, many asset owners and operators face the opportunity to replace existing hardware. I’m seeing them posted for , and this will further offset the cost of restarting,” she said.

In the utility market, developers and IPPs are looking to gain economies of scale and increase energy yields.Reid Sahrawi, Founder and Managing Director of R3 Techis a Switzerland-based global aftermarket solutions provider that provides repower consulting to utility-sized companies.

“If new hardware offers better electrical and mechanical capabilities, including potential induced degradation (PID), light induced degradation (LID), reduced hot spots, tension range, etc. Consider replacing some or all,” he said.

Repowering is also trending in the commercial and residential markets. Businesses and homeowners are upgrading their hardware to meet energy consumption levels and access incentive programs. Additionally, the commercial market seeks to optimize the available surface space to generate maximum energy yield.

“Companies are using Repower as part of their overall environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy,” said Sahraoui.

In the housing sector, homeowners are grappling with rising utility bills and power outages.Dean Holman, Supply Chain Manager Meraki Solar, The Florida-based solar installer with offices across 30 states has seen a rise in residential repower projects.

“Homeowners are demanding newer high-wattage modules and next-generation inverters, as well as battery storage add-ons,” he said. “Interest has increased since the Control Inflation Act extended his 30% investment tax credit, and that demand he expects to continue through 2024.”

Procurement of new technology

Once the decision to power cycle is made, we will procure new hardware. Sahraoui offers two of his high-level recommendations for upgrading technology. First, consider the physical space and surface area available. Then consider what to keep and what to change from your existing system.

“Are there any parts that can be reused? If there are components that you would like to reuse, consider compatibility with the new hardware you plan to procure,” he suggested.

Additionally, Holleman suggests sourcing hardware from well-known brands with strong performance ratings.

“Manufacturers with high bankability scores are more likely to stay in business in the long run, which helps when replacement parts are needed,” he said.

Kuehl recommends procuring new hardware in the fourth quarter of the calendar year.

“Many wholesalers list their inventory at deep discounts in the fourth quarter to make room for new inventory that will be delivered the following year. Such deals can lead to significant savings. there is potential,” she said.

Resell or recycle old hardware

Credit: We Recycle Solar

Today’s secondary market provides a platform for solar companies to resell used PV hardware. Determining what has resale value and what should be recycled from existing systems is an important part of the overall RePower project. In the experience of both Meraki and R3 Tech, most used solar equipment tends to have resale value.

“Second-hand solar panels are generally in good condition and demand from buyers is still high. have to be inspected and tested,” Sahroui said.

Module inspection and testing Helps determine resale value of used solar panels. R3 Tech recently tested 7,500 of his 7-year-old obsolete modules and found that they lost less than 3% of his time due to degradation. Above average energy yield translates into higher resale value.

Inverters may also have resale value, especially if they are in good working condition. However, those older than 10 years may require some degree of refurbishment and subsequent quality control checks. Racks are customized for existing arrays and are not typically reused. However, it can be recycled at scrap yards.

Batteries, especially lithium-ion batteries, can also be reused. R3 Tech found that using a used battery can provide a lifespan of 3,000 cycles. Balance of System (BOS) components in existing PV systems have no resale value due to general wear and tear. BOS components include wiring, cables, switches, enclosures, disconnects, combiners, surge protectors, breakers, and electrical panels. These materials are suitable for recycling.

Resale price calculation

Determining the resale value of used PV modules, inverters and batteries requires some research as prices on the secondary market tend to fluctuate. As with the primary market, demand influences prices. The condition of the item also affects the price.

Kuehl suggests using a third party, such as an appraiser, to reference market spot prices.

“Our research found that used modules cost 50 to 75 percent less than new modules,” she said.

in the latest PV module price index According to a report published by EnergyBin, a report that tracks the price of crystalline silicon modules in the secondary market, the average price of used modules ranging from 120 to 435 watts ranged from $0.086 to $0.26 per watt.

Kuehl adds that several factors should be considered when determining resale prices for used modules.

“These factors include wattage, age (i.e., how many years the module has been manufactured), number of busbars, and quantity provided. We can even give you a price,” she said.

Additionally, as Sahroui observed, the buyer’s location can affect the price.

“The US tends to offer 20-30% higher resale values ​​than other countries. European countries, on the other hand, tend to apply competitive pricing,” he said.

Check the price of used inverters and batteries online. Exchanges and marketplaces host pricing data by region, brand, and other categories.

Choosing a Repower Service Provider

If your asset owners and operators are ready to repower, choose your service provider wisely. Holman recommends choosing a provider of repowering services with a reputation for quality work.

“Consider the timing of the work and the warranty period offered by the provider. Try to choose an installation company with at least 10 years of work experience,” he said.

Sahraoui advises thoroughly considering a provider’s financial, technical, legal, and operational strengths.

“Specifically, ask about their experience in handling repower projects. Please request information about our policy on the matter,” he said.

Melissa Ann Schmid is a Marketing Communications Manager. energy bin There she oversees marketing initiatives for a growing solar B2B exchange. She earned her master’s degree in international business from St. Mary’s College, Minnesota, with her dissertation research on strategic corporate social responsibility initiatives and the role of for-profit/non-profit partnerships in today’s global economy. focused.

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