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PV-IRFD System: Intelligent Real-Time Fault Detection System for Solar Photovoltaic Farms Based on Wavelet Transform and Fuzzy Logic Systems

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Researchers
Amirhossein Etemadi
Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering
External Link (www.seas.gwu.edu)
Zhehan Yi
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering,
External Link (www.linkedin.com)
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Jerry Comanescu
Licensing Associate jcomanescu@gwu.edu (202) 994-8975
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Researchers at The George Washington University (GW) have created a novel intelligent system which incorporates an innovative strategy for real-time fault detection in solar photovoltaic farms based on both Discrete Wavelet Transform and Fuzzy Logic Systems.  This approach overcomes the weaknesses in current fuse based systems (ineffective when irradiance is low due to weather, time of day, etc.) and known Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) approaches.   In particular, it does not require the extensive machine learning time required by other fault detection approaches.  

The global PV installed capacity grew from 1,288 MW in 2000 to 177GW in 2014. Reliability and performance problems in photovoltaic arrays become more severe and important as the scale of PV arrays become larger. Faults such as line-line and line-ground mismatching in the PV arrays elevate the risk of damage to solar panels and reduce the efficiency of the solar panels, creating energy and thus economic losses. In extreme cases these short-circuit faults can lead to DC arcing hazards with an increased fire risk. 

As a direct solution to these problems, this technology implements an innovative detection strategy for faults that are currently difficult to detect. In order to make intelligent fault detection possible, the technology developed by the researchers at GW incorporates an internal fuzzy logic decision making system that can deal with inherent nonlinearity and variability of fault impacts on PV systems. 

The extensive simulations and experimental test of faults performed by the researchers under multiple environmental conditions show that the fault detection accuracy in the PV systems is extremely high under this new technology (accuracy of 92.6% for line-line faults and 98.77% for ground faults). Disturbance (nonfault) case studies also proved that the system is highly reliable and secure. 

The revolution in the energy markets caused by the growing impact of solar PV is taking a dramatic leap in scale. This system is a powerful innovation to increase solar energy efficiency and offers PV solar operations substantial efficiency and reliability benefits. 

Applications:

  • Solar photovoltaic farms energy efficiency 
  • Optimization of other PV systems such as rooftop photovoltaic power stations
  • Minimization of DC arcing hazards and fire risks

Advantages:

  • This technology results in better accuracy in detecting faults, i.e. a much higher success rate than other current technologies, under low-irradiance and low-mismatch fault conditions
  • It highly improves the energy efficiency in solar photovoltaic farms and PV systems in general
  • It maximize the energy output produced by those solar photovoltaic farms