Operational efficiency of solar energy farms requires detailed analytics and information on each panel regarding voltage, current, temperature, and irradiance. Monitoring utility-scale solar arrays was shown to minimize the cost of maintenance and help optimize the performance of photovoltaic (PV) arrays under various conditions. This dissertation describes a project that focuses on the development of machine learning and neural network algorithms. It also describes an 18kW solar array testbed for the purpose of PV monitoring and control. The use of the 18kW Sensor Signal and Information Processing (SenSIP) PV testbed which consists of 104 modules fitted with smart monitoring devices (SMDs) is described in detail. Each of the SMDs has embedded, a wireless transceiver, and relays that enable continuous monitoring, fault detection, and real-time connection topology changes. Data is obtained in real time using the SenSIP PV testbed. Machine learning and neural network algorithms for PV fault classification is are studied in depth. More specifically, the development of a series of customized neural networks for detection and classification of solar array faults that include soiling, shading, degradation, short circuits and standard test conditions is considered. The evaluation of fault detection and classification methods using metrics such as accuracy, confusion matrices, and the Risk Priority Number (RPN) is performed. The examination and assessment the classification performance of customized neural networks with dropout regularizers is presented in detail. The development and evaluation of neural network pruning strategies and illustration of the trade-off between fault classification model accuracy and algorithm complexity is studied. This study includes data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) database and also real-time data collected from the SenSIP testbed at MTW under various loading and shading conditions. The overall approach for detection and classification promises to elevate the performance and robustness of PV arrays.
- Fault Detection and Classification in Photovoltaic Arrays using Machine Learning
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