The solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is considered to be an important and most cost-effective type of renewable energy source and it is expected to have a leading role in the transition towards a more secure, sustainable and low-carbon economy. However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed to facilitate the wide spread adoption and utilization of PV technologies. For example, the levelized cost of electricity generated by PV systems can be further reduced and at the same time the lifetime of PV plants can be extended to improve the competitiveness of the PV technology. Moreover, as the market share of PV grows, concerns about potential impacts on the stability and operation of the electricity grid could create barriers to their future expansion. 

 

Researchers at the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence (CoE) at the University of Cyprus have been working on the development of novel technologies for addressing these challenges and enable the seamless and ultra-high penetration of PV systems. As a continuation of this effort, a new research project titled “PVgnosis”, aims to develop and demonstrate technical novel solutions to advance the operation, maintenance and lifetime of PV plants towards the massive adoption of solar energy.

 

“PVgnosis” will focus on the development of a software platform for advancing the operation, diagnosis, maintenance and management of several PV plants, and the progress of PV inverters with multi-functional operating modes and advanced fault diagnosis capabilities. The resulted solutions will improve the reliability and accelerate the maintenance procedure of PV plants. Moreover, the developed technologies will allow the effective coordination of large PV plants operation to provide valuable services for maintaining the stability and enhancing the power quality of a smart grid.

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The project results will be validated and demonstrated in an operational environment. The software platform with the predictive maintenance toolkit will be applied on a large PV plant (with installed capacity higher than 100 kWp) and the effectiveness of the solution will be demonstrated in a large pilot use case. On the other hand, new services and novel fault diagnosis schemes for PV inverter will be implemented in a prototype grid-connected inverter and will be demonstrated in operational conditions using the KIOS power systems testbed.

 

The results will benefit the photovoltaic industry and all related stakeholders since will reduce the Levelised Cost of Electricity, extend the lifetime and enhance the competitiveness of PV systems. Consequently, this project can contribute for increase the penetration of PV technology into the energy map. This is completely in line with the national energy strategy of Cyprus where the PV installations are expected to be increased by five times in the next decade, in order to achieve the 2030 targets framework for climate and energy that require at least 26% of renewables penetration, mainly produced by PV technology.

 

The project is being delivered in collaboration with experts at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (coordinator) and two SME’s in the renewable energy systems, the ENGAIA SA from Greece and the Checkwatt AB from Sweden.

 

“PVgnosis” is supported under the umbrella of SOLARERA.NET Cofund 2 by the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation. SOLAR-ERA.NET is supported by the European Commission within the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020 (Cofund ERA-NET Action, N° 786483).

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