Revamping and repowering: the passage of time does not hinder ongoing PV plant efficiency

FuturENERGY July-September 2021

Revamping y repowering: el paso del tiempo no impide que las plantas fotovoltaicas sigan siendo eficientes

As the years go by, PV installations and their components can become obsolete for different reasons and given this fact, the owners of such facilities often decide to invest to optimise production efficiency and thereby extend the useful life of their assets. Now more than ever, the quality of maintenance services makes all the difference to plant efficiency, but even so, economic forecasts are frequently difficult to meet as the installation ages. This is where the concepts knowns as revamping and repowering come into play.

Revamping basically sets out to replace the defective components of PV plants or those that no longer work in line with their original specifications and that are not covered by the product guarantees or where the technical service bis inadequate. This corrects the restrictions arising from the outdated design of the plant itself or other technical limitations inherited from the era in which it was first installed. The new components offer a better performance without altering the fixed output of the system, as well as adding the advantage of technical support and a manufacturer’s guarantee (over a set period). Revamping is not just a simple repair, but the introduction of a technological improvement to the original installation to thereby maximise its functionality.

The same definition also applies to repowering, but with one crucial difference compared to revamping: in this instance, the aim is to increase the plant’s output to achieve greater production. For this, logically, the option to increase the output must necessarily exist (capacity of the installation components that are not going to be replaced, grid capacity, project modifications, legal approvals…). Should it not be possible to evacuate more capacity due to grid restrictions, repowering achieves a higher sale of energy at the end of the period, as production will be optimised whenever the installation is not evacuating the maximum established output.