The US East Coast saw up to 5% less sunlight than average in 2014, while the West Coast enjoyed up to 10% more sun, according to a study published by Vaisala in April that highlights the volatile supply conditions faced by PV plant developers and operators.
Understanding the irradiance levels helps asset managers determine if a system’s lack of output is due to malfunction or weather variation. This could help to save on operations & maintenance (O&M) costs by reducing unnecessary truck rolls and labor expenses, according to Michael Herzig, president and founder of Locus Energy, a solar monitoring and data analytics platform provider.
Locus Energy saw this as a market opportunity and conducted research into how irradiance could be estimated using a variety of different data sources. The culmination of this research is Virtual Irradiance (VI), the company’s software that can generate highly accurate estimates of solar irradiance across the US without the need for a physical sensor.