Downing takes AI approach to boost performance at solar farms

Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust (Dore), which in April acquired a £12.6 million, 13.0 MWp portfolio of two ground-mounted PV sites and 1,600 commercial and residential PV installations, is working to improve returns and extend the expected lifetime of its PV assets.
The new acquisitions bring its UK PV assets to 4,800, with a total annual average production of 100 GWh.
Dore said its asset manager has been working with a specialist artificial intelligence company to create an interface that produces predictive component failure analysis and identification of likely short and long term maintenance costs for ground mounted solar sites. A report showing the ‘mean time to failure’ for inverters gives insight, based on historical incidents, into when the inverter is likely to fail. It said further development will include a greater variety of parameters in the model, which will provide further insights into the correlation of anomalies and incidents so that maintenance can be scheduled before component failures. A new contract with O&M contractor RES includes additional maintenance stipulations and performance guarantees
Dore said that, prolonged equipment lead times had prompted it to change its spare parts strategy to reduce downtime, maintain asset performance and make use of cross compatibility across the portfolio..
The average asset life of Dore’s ground-mounted PV assets is around 25 years, but the company said it was in the process of extending planning and lease terms. This is expected to increase the useful life of the ground mount portfolio to 27.8 years.
Meanwhile Dore still awaits Ofgem clearance of its acquisition of Mersey Reactive Power. It signed an agreement to acquire the 200 MVAr shunt reactor in June for £11.0 million.
The asset, in Frodsham, became operational in May 2022. It is a passive device that absorb sand consumes reactive power, helping maintain voltage levels within an acceptable range. It has a fixed priced, inflation-linked, availability- based contract with National Grid ESO until 2031.
Dore said the shunt reactor will provide “a new, long- term, revenue stream for DORE, one that is not derived from the sale of power on the wholesale markets” and one that “offers a higher than average return profile compared to other core renewables assets.”