Welcome to the Solar Energy International (SEI) Podcast Series! In our episodes we will be interviewing solar industry experts and SEI team members to bring you information you need to take your solar career to the next level. No matter if you are just getting started or a seasoned solar veteran, these interviews will help you grow as a solar professional. Subscribe today in your favorite podcast aggregator!
SEI Podcast Episode: The Importance of Understanding Solar Energy Production Calculators
In the world of data and systems management there is a common phrase, “garbage in / garbage out”. Basically what that is saying is if the data being put into a system is inaccurate or garbage, that is exactly what you are going to get as an output - garbage.
As the solar industry grows and project developers, EPCs, and financiers want to see accurate energy production models during the feasibility study stage of any potential solar project, it is crucial for solar professionals to understand the software tools and calculators used during the energy production estimation stage of any project.
When people first get into the solar industry the first software platform that many of us dive into is NREL's PVWatts® Calculator. NREL's PVWatts® Calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations. It is a great tool to get your feet wet on basic PV system performance estimates, but when you get into projects where detailed reports and accurate accounting of all the factors that go into system performance, you are going to want to graduate up to software platforms like PVsyst.
Environmental and PV equipment component factors that are even slightly off can result in production estimates that are far enough off that the funding entities for large scale solar projects aren’t going to be happy if the system isn’t performing especially if there are performance guarantees. The buck is going to stop with you as the project designer to take the heat and that is not a position you want to be in.
Understanding how to use these software tools at a very detailed level is a crucial part of your professional development as a solar professional. To help people new to the industry and new to using software tools like PVSyst, Solar Energy International (SEI) developed a short course targeted towards beginning users. The title of the course is CE524: PVSYST FOR PV SYSTEM PRODUCTION MODELING and was developed to show you in detail how to get started creating accurate production estimates for any size PV system, from residential to large-scale. In this online course students will learn how to find and import the correct meteorological data, create system variants for any size system, and accurately define the orientation, shading scene, and detailed system losses. By the end of this course you will be confidently simulating production and printing reports to share.
So if you want to keep project developers and financiers happy and want to keep growing your career in the solar industry, it will be critical to get it right when the final report and design plans are presented. First step to getting it right though is to get training and to learn how to see the data at a much deeper level and to identify outputs and system loss calculations that may not be accurate. Keep the garbage from going in and you will have a high level of confidence that your designs will be cranking out clean and reliable energy for decades to come.
SEI Podcast Episode: TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR SOLAR PV OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE
We had a chance to sit down with SEI's Curriculum and Instruction Team to talk about O&M for Solar PV. Great conversation about the need for O&M training for solar professionals as the industry matures and this type of work is needed more and more. Check out the two training offerings SEI has for O&M:
PVOL350: PV SYSTEMS - TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE - ONLINE
As more and more PV systems come online, the operations and maintenance (O&M) field is rapidly expanding. This course trains PV technicians to safely and effectively perform O&M tasks, including inspections, commissioning, performance verification, and troubleshooting. Students will become familiar with a wide range of advanced analytical tools, meters, and techniques – such as insulation resistance testers, I-V curve tracers, and infrared cameras. Learn the theory and practical applications from instructors with real-world experience, using curriculum developed by an industry-leading team of experts. This course is applicable to all sizes of grid-direct PV systems including residential, commercial, and large-scale; it does not cover battery maintenance or medium voltage-specific O&M. Fleet operations and system data managers will also find this course challenging and valuable.
PV351L: PV SYSTEMS - TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES FOR OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE LAB WEEK (GRID-DIRECT)
PV351L is an intensive, advanced training designed for solar professionals already working in the PV industry who want to take their technical skills to the next level and gain hands-on experience with a wide range of advanced analytical tools and meters. Through a mix of classroom and lab time, theory is immediately applied in the field, with a focus on commissioning, operations and maintenance, troubleshooting, and performance evaluation. Students gain experience using a wide variety of the latest and greatest tools the industry has to offer, including various multimeters, insulation resistance testers, IV curve tracers, and infrared cameras. Learn the advanced skills required to ensure PV systems operate safely and reliably!
SEI Podcast Episode: Meet Our Team / ADVANCED PV MULTIMODE AND MICROGRID DESIGN
We had an opportunity to sit down and interview Sarah Wilder and Rebekah Hren from the SEI Curriculum Team and talk about some awesome new course updates and an overview of our development processes.
We also covered the newest updates to the online course: PVOL303 ADVANCED PV MULTIMODE AND MICROGRID DESIGN.
Multimode systems are complex energy storage systems that can operate in utility interactive or island mode – and the market for these systems is experiencing exponential growth. Whether providing backup power when the grid is down, operating in self consumption mode, or reducing peak demand charges, there are numerous use cases for PV systems with energy storage that interact with the utility grid. Lessons include detailed design considerations for AC and DC coupled systems, along with analyzing equipment specifications and thorough design examples. National Electrical Code (NEC®) and other code requirements are addressed in detail along with best practice design considerations for battery-based systems.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Gives Personality to the Extensive Online Resource
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from SEI instructors in this conversational manner. The show’s guests provide insight on how they entered the solar energy field, and how the courses at solarenergy.org have helped them grow in and develop those careers.
These instructors and curriculum planners discuss the most necessary training for current and upcoming solar professionals in the global market, and how that knowledge is applied in the field.
At times, the show does feel a little too much like a pushy sales pitch, over-stressing the dollar value of enrolling in courses, but overall remains a valuable free resource. In the future, I would like to hear from more guests who have experience in the international market. I would also appreciate more information on entry points to careers in the solar industry as a young professional today.