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Utility-Scale Solar Plants Perform Better Than Expected

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Report: Large Utility-Scale Solar PV Projects Often Outperform Expectations

Large utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects often outperform expectations with regard to the amount of electricity generated, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings.

Interestingly, the report also notes that most of these sorts of projects are also rather low in output variability — being rather stable in output, in other words.

To provide more specifics on the Fitch Ratings report, the report analyzed the output of 5 different utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, and also one concentrating solar power (CSP) project. All of the projects assessed were completed and brought online between 2011 and 2014.

Impressively, the projects assessed actually produced (on average) 9% more electricity than they had been projected to. The factors involved in this over-performance, according to the Fitch Ratings report, were primarily: solar irradiance levels that were superior to what was expected, and lower-than-expected grid curtailment losses.

The report also noted that these projects generally had very limited downtimes, with the range for annual availability being between 98.5% and 99.5%.

“They’re off to a good start, particularly compared to wind projects,” stated Fitch Ratings Senior Director Yvette Dennis. Though, “long-term performance remains uncertain.”

The projects in question were mostly located in the US, with one located in Italy. And 3 of the projects were over 500 megawatts in size. The CSP project assessed is 250 megawatts in size.

Image by First Solar

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