Half of US large-scale solar projects are in ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ condition in new report

Half of US large-scale solar projects are in ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ condition in new report
(Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash)

With more than 100 GW in operation today and 150 GW in projected large-scale installations over the next five years, solar is America’s fastest-growing renewable energy source.

Zeitview, a provider of energy and infrastructure inspections, has completed its North American Solar Scan, which includes condition data on over 90% of the United States solar power plant deployments 1 MW or larger. This news comes on the heels of Zeitview’s acquisition of Heliolytics.

GO DEEPER: Check out the Factor This! podcast O&M playlist, including episodes on recycling, robotics, asset performance, legal risks, and more. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Using crewed aircraft to capture aerial imagery and thermal scans, Zeitview recorded asset condition data on 95 GW of the United States fleet of solar power plants during the 2023 North American Solar Scan. Zeitview applies a three-letter asset rating system from AAA to DDD upon scan completion to reflect a site’s condition. Each letter represents a specific aspect – power loss, module condition, and cell temperature. Expanding its scope beyond North American Solar Scan data, Zeitview is set to capture over 200 GW of aerial imagery and data across the global renewable energy sector this year.

Courtesy: Zeitview

Results of the nationwide scan show that factors like age, size, positioning, location, and materials all play a part in a site’s long-term operational condition. Initial data highlights of the inaugural scan include:

  • 51% of the U.S. fleet is in excellent or good operational condition, meaning an asset rating of BBB or higher.
  • As they age, plants ten years and older show different stages of deterioration, with approximately 25% of the older fleet still in excellent or good operational condition with 11% still AAA-rated, meaning each of the three assessment areas is in the highest working order with minimal signs of degradation.
  • On average, larger plants tend to be healthy, with more than 50% of the 100 MW and larger fleets in excellent or good condition.
  • Tracker-mounted appear to fare better over time than fixed-tilt sites, with 54% in good or better condition compared to 44% of fixed-tilt sites.

Zeitview utilizes AI-enabled software trained to detect specific defects common to photovoltaic (PV) equipment, which is meant to ensure accuracy and depth for every scan. All derived conclusions are overseen by data and solar industry experts, and Zeitview’s data collection and analysis methods offer thermal and standard photographic views of solar assets meant to provide owners with actionable insights.