Solar Analytics explained in 7 questions. A chat with Julien Deckx

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February 4, 2022

A chat with Julien Deckx

Are your plants underperforming while root causes remain unidentified? Are you spending too many hours on performance analysis? We asked 7 questions to 3E’s Product Manager Julien Deckx about Solar Analytics, the new SynaptiQ application for PV performance optimisation.

1. Hi Julien, what is Solar Analytics?

Solar Analytics is a new application on our SynaptiQ platform, which is also available as an add-on to Asset Operations. It provides an automated breakdown of plant performance losses and actionable insights to increase yield. To ensure correct results, the app also includes an advanced anomaly detection for solar sensors, as well as a configuration check to make sure the digital twin is correct.

2. How does Solar Analytics help customers?

As portfolios grow larger and further spread out geographically, it becomes more challenging to keep the performance of plants optimal. We see from our customers that they spend many hours on identifying the root cause of performance issues. With Solar Analytics, not only are performance losses identified automatically, they are also detected earlier - long before they impact the overall plant KPIs. Our recommendation engine lets the user know that there is an issue and gives suggestions on how to fix them. Without the need for extra manpower, you can now analyse performance to a much greater depth and significantly improve the yield of the plants.

3. In what are the Asset Operations and the Solar Analytics apps different?

Thanks to our physics-based digital twin, which I dare say is the best in the industry, our Asset Operations solution is very good at raising alarms when the performance of a plant, inverter or inverter input shows a significant deviation.

Solar Analytics takes this one step further by using machine learning to detect issues even before you notice them in the plant performance metrics. For instance, soiling can be a gradual process that stays under the radar for a long time. Thanks to Solar Analytics, you’ll get notified early on and can remediate before it becomes a big issue. Another big advantage is the accurate quantification of lost energy for each loss. This allows to streamline the prioritization of interventions by analysing the cost-benefit ratio.

4. How does SynaptiQ Solar Analytics differ from other tools for advanced analytics?

If you look at the number of loss categories that we have, you’ll see that the level of detail of our analysis is unique. There is a good explanation for that. Other products use AI to identify patterns in the monitoring data, with little to no domain knowledge involved. This is called a black-box approach: you know the input and the output, but you don’t know what happened in between. We use a grey-box approach, where our machine learning algorithms are combined with the physics-based (aka white-box) simulation from the digital twin. That makes for a much more detailed and reliable analysis. An additional benefit is that it’s more transparent: for every detected loss, you can compare the simulated and measured current and voltage to confirm the root cause. By the way, the level of detail is a continuous improvement: we’ll keep splitting up our loss categories to further refine the insights that are given.

5. How has the feedback on the new product been so far?

In one word: energising! Even before the formal launch, when showing the first demo’s last year, I noticed the interest was huge. I sense that the need for a reliable solution is high. We conducted a successful pre-launch test program in November for selected SynaptiQ customers. Participants were very enthusiastic on how they could save days, sometimes weeks of analysis for just one plant. In one instance, we saw that an annual production loss of 2.5% could have been avoided by detecting the issue a year before it became a significant problem. I’m looking forward to hearing more and more stories like those!

6. What can Asset Operations customers do if they’d like to enhance their performance management with Solar Analytics?

Existing customers are in a great position to benefit from this solution because they have the digital twins of their plants already fully configured in SynaptiQ. So as soon as they subscribe to the new service, it’s plug and play for them.

7. What about new customers?

New customers benefit from the same hassle-free onboarding process as our Asset Operations product. They can configure the digital twin of new plants fully autonomously. Monitoring data is retrieved either from any on-site hardware or from a third-party platform, and then they are ready to go!

Interest to see how you could get a high-level analysis of lost production & revenue as well as in-depth recommendations, with one single automated tool? Book a demo now.

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