Yole Report Details Photovoltaic Monitoring Market

July 25, 2013
The PV Monitoring Business Analysis, Technology Trends and Main Players report from French analyst Yole Développement explains the drivers surrounding system-level ROI.

The Holy Grail of photovoltaic (PV) efficiency is often referred to as grid parity—the point at which solar energy becomes at least as affordable as traditional forms of energy like coal or oil. The term “grid parity” is a vast oversimplification, however, because there are any number of elements that can be factored into the “cost” of PV power.

While lab research focuses largely on increasing the efficiency of the PV cells themselves, automation plays a growing part in lowering the cost to produce those cells—just as likely if not more likely to contribute to a falling price per kilowatt hour delivered. There are several other efficiencies to be considered throughout the supply chain, including panel installation, maintenance and more; not to mention the very important consideration of government subsidies.

A new report from Yole Développement takes a look at the system level of PV, specifically at PV monitoring technologies, which enable higher returns on investments (ROIs) through higher system availability, better performance, tighter safety, and lower operating and maintenance costs.

PV monitoring has become essential to global energy management systems and successful integration of large intermittent PV electricity volumes into the electrical grid, according to Yole’s report. For large installations in mature PV markets, a PV monitoring solution should be factored in at the early stages of project development in order to increase project bankability and reduce costs related to financing and insurance, analysts note.

Several companies are involved in PV monitoring at different levels, including project assessment, system commissioning, and PV monitoring equipment and services. There are still opportunities for small companies to get into the market, especially those in software and data analysis, and local players within distribution, installation, maintenance, etc., Yole points out.

“The growing need for global energy management solutions provides an opportunity for large multinational companies, which are already looking for small, easy-to-acquire firms that can help them accelerate development of complete energy solutions such as autonomous PV battery systems, smart homes and smart cities,” says Milan Rosina, Yole’s market and technology analyst for photovoltaics. “Inverter and battery makers, providers of smart-data analysis methods and well-established local monitoring companies are the focus of ongoing merger and acquisition (M&A) and partnership efforts.”

Monitoring solutions for PV installations are still in their infancy, Yole reports, and will significantly evolve in the coming years to address future legislative issues and unmet customer needs. Safety and grid stability issues will drive progressive change from simple monitoring to comprehensive system control and management. The introduction of mandatory safety features into PV systems will boost development of PV module-level devices (microinverters, power enhancement, etc.), enabling the avoidance of dangerous values for DC current and voltage.

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