In the US, there have already been ten extreme weather events this year that created over 10 billion dollars in losses, according to NOAA. The government agency has recently revised its 2020 hurricane forecast from active to extremely active and increased the number of expected storms from 19 to 25.
These weather events can severely impact solar power plants. In October 2019, renewable insurance providers faced $70-80 million in losses after hail damaged over 400,000 panels on a single solar farm. MGA GCube found that 50 percent of all renewable energy insurance claims in North America resulted from weather-related incidents.
Nextracker, a FLEX (NASDAQ: FLEX) company, developed a machine learning technology to help protect solar power plants, decrease financial losses, and increase performance gains. Think Tesla over-the-air software updates for the solar industry. NX Navigator uses a simple interface to help plant managers monitor, maintain, and control their systems for planned events like cleaning and mowing and unpredictable weather patterns like hail, wind, and snow.
D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI), a leading developer and producer of renewable energy in North America, will be the first to update its entire 1.6 GW portfolio with the NX Navigator system.
On Aug 12, Nextracker announced that DESRI would be upgrading its entire solar fleet that uses Nextracker's smart solar trackers with TrueCapture energy enhancement and NX Navigator monitoring software.
Through machine learning and real-time data analytics, Nextracker software continues to enhance plant performance with new features that deliver proven financial benefits and productivity gains. Launched in 2019, NX Navigator helps power plant operators to efficiently monitor and control their solar assets across a wide range of weather conditions, including hail, snow, high winds, and hurricanes.
Nextracker's TrueCapture software solution optimizes the performance of PV systems by employing robust data analytics, advanced algorithms, and angle adjustments based on real-time conditions in the field. As an initial adopter of the technology, DESRI has played a vital role in helping Nextracker optimize the software and develop new monitoring and control platforms like NX Navigator.
"As an early adopter of TrueCapture three years ago, we benefited from increased energy yield production, lower operating costs, and better availability," said Bryan Martin, Executive Chairman of DESRI. "Nextracker keeps adding functionality designed to optimize our projects further and is highly responsive to the input of our operations team to tune the platform. Earlier this year, we started using NX Navigator's snow shed capabilities at our northern sites to reduce losses attributed to snow cover. We are also implementing Navigator's hail stow to help protect our systems from extreme weather in hail prone regions."
DESRI has solar and wind sites totaling over 2,400 megawatts of aggregate capacity. Its 15 operating projects that utilize Nextracker will be augmented with TrueCapture and its new NX Navigator control platform, while DESRI's Nextracker-contracted sites under construction will be using the software as a standard moving forward.
"DESRI has developed an impressive fleet of utility-scale solar plants, and we are pleased they have chosen to upgrade with TrueCapture and NX Navigator," said Dan Shugar, CEO of Nextracker. "As evident by DESRI's diverse portfolio, our technology is optimized to work across regions and help developers solve for site issues such as undulation and diffuse light conditions to increase yield and performance, and actively minimize risk from increasingly prevalent extreme weather like hail. We look forward to continuing our partnership with DESRI as we make the connected power plant of the future a reality through innovation and optimization."
TrueCapture is being used on over 80 power plants on four continents worldwide. Production gains are site-specific, and some sites have seen productivity gains of over four percent. The technology platform has been validated by third-party independent engineers, including Black & Veatch, DNV-GL, Enertis, ICF, Leidos, Luminate, RINA, and UL.