Expert Insights: The financial impact of accurate solar irradiance and weather data

The financial impact of accurate solar irradiance and weather data
Nicole Neumann
Nicole Neumann
Weather & Environment
Wind and Solar Energy 

Interview with Nicole Friedrich Neumann, Product Manager, 3E SynaptiQ

  1. Could you tell about your experience and background in renewable energy industry and your current role in 3E?

    With a background in environmental engineering specialized in water technology, I spent nearly 3 years advancing water digitalization. Seeking new challenges, I transitioned into the booming renewable sector, joining 3E one and a half years ago to apply my experience on digital tools for solar energy. As a product manager my role involves designing and refining the SynaptiQ product roadmap, prioritizing customer needs. Through our software, we translate vast data volumes into actionable insights for various stakeholders, like asset owners, IPP, EPC and O&M's, empowering them to maximize the performance of their solar assets, increase ROI and fostering long-term profitability throughout their lifecycle.

  2. Could you elaborate the role of accurate solar irradiance and weather data during the entire lifecycle of solar energy projects, from initial planning through to the execution and operational phase?

    In the world of solar projects, getting it right from the start is crucial. Whether you're a developer or operator, having accurate solar data is essential to assess long-term yield of future renewable assets, improve ROI and evaluate operational plant performance.

    During the design phase, project developers, investors, and lenders aim to increase their project's value by reducing yield uncertainty through accurate and bankable solar irradiation data. Once the project is operational, owners, asset managers, and O&M contractors rely on reliable solar data to ensure key performance indicators are met and assets perform optimally. In a nutshell, the higher accuracy of data significantly reduces your project uncertainty.

  3. How can accurate solar irradiance and weather data impact financial modeling, risk assessment, plant efficiency, or overall financial profitability for solar projects?

    Accurate solar data has enormous impact on financial outcomes for all involved parties. A 3E study analyzing ten years of solar data revealed that investors could increase their Return on Equity (ROE) by 10% by using the right P90. Additionally, a separate study indicated that low quality solar data affects plant efficiency, resulting in an annual revenue loss of €10k due to diminished Performance Ratio (PR). This underscores the critical role of high-quality solar data in optimizing financial returns and operational efficiency in solar projects.

  4. Do you see a trend in the industry towards the adoption of more professional practices among the usage of high-quality sensors, professional weather stations, and robust data quality control measures?

    Definitely. The significance of high-quality solar data is increasingly recognized among stakeholders. There's a growing trend among owners of large portfolios towards implementing stringent data quality control measures and investing in better sensors for on-site measurements, which offer higher hourly data accuracy. Simultaneously, there's a shift towards utilizing dependable satellite data to fill gaps and verify sensor accuracy.

  5. How do you see the future of solar power generation evolving with improvements in weather data accuracy and technology?

    As the solar industry is growing rapidly globally, with asset portfolios growing bigger and more distributed, automation becomes crucial for increasing profitability. Stakeholders are increasingly seeking tools that can transform a variety of data—ranging from solar data and device error codes to SCADA information and interventions —into actionable insights. This enables prompt responses to urgent issues and strategic planning for the underlying ones. Hypervisor systems and automated sensor checks is also gaining traction, streamlining operations and ensuring asset optimization.

Maximizing solar energy investment - The financial impact of accurate solar irradiance and weather data​

Maximizing solar energy investment - The financial impact of accurate solar irradiance and weather data​

Join this expert talk, organized jointly with 3E, to learn more about the relationship between solar irradiance accuracy and financial revenue in solar power plants — a critical aspect of optimizing the profitability of solar energy projects.