Introduction to performance indicators

Calculating the performance of PV power plants is highly important for any investor. The estimated output from the PV power plant depends on the parameters which are usually calculated at the design stage using various software’s (Example PVSyst etc.). But considering there are several variables which contribute to the final output and eventually the performance of a PV plant, the performance may vary over a wide range. These could be on account of poor quality of PV modules, quick degradation of solar cells at higher temperatures, design parameters like orientation, tilt angle or any other atmospheric factors such as long cloud covers, shading or soiling.

The performance of the power plant also highly depends on several parameters including the site location, solar insolation, climatic conditions.  Some of the major factors that influence the performance of a PV plant are:

  • PV module temperature
  • Solar irradiation
  • Shadow on PV modules
  • PV module efficiency
  • Inverter efficiency
  • Improper power plant design
  • Lack of maintenance /cleaning of PV modules
  • Degradation of the solar cells, etc.

Performance Indicators of Solar PV power plants

The main objective of key performance indicators evaluation and monitoring consists in detecting low performance in PV power plant operation, investigating issues and setting up maintenance plans in order to minimize the operational costs. The performance indicators help to:

  • estimate the performance of PV power plants
  • assess the degradation of module output
  • review and compare between technologies
  • review design criteria for better performance of PV plants
  • analyze and recommend changes and amendments in the PV system

Some of the common performance indicators for technical analysis of a solar PV power plant are discussed in the next chapters.


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