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ISSN 0003701X, Applied Solar Energy, 2015, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 262–266. © Allerton Press, Inc., 2015.



Reliability Model Assessment of GridConnected Solar Photovoltaic

System Based on MonteCarlo1
Haiying Wanga, Ninghui Zhub, and Xiaomin Baic
State Key Laboratory of Advanced Electromagnetic Engineering and Technology, Huazhong University of Science
and Technology, Wuhan, China
bCEPRI Science and Technology Company, Beijing, China
China Electric Power Research Institute, Beijing, China
Received February 2, 2015

Abstract—The rapid growth of photovoltaic PV energy utilization and the immense potential for future use
dictate a need to seriously consider the reliability of PV system. In this study, the comprehensive model to
assess the reliability of largescale and gridconnected PV system was proposed, taking account of weather
condition as well as critical component failure probability. In addition, the sequential MonteCarlo simula
tion was also established, combining with the developed model. And this analytical approach was successfully
applied to evaluate the practical PV system in western area of China. The result showed that the reliability
increased as the system capacity increased. And the simulated value become more accurate when the basic
model was modified by more factors, especially by weather condition. While for the fixedcapacity system,
the reliability decreased periodically as the operation time prolonged, which was mainly caused by the PV
modules and inverters failure probability.
DOI: 10.3103/S0003701X15040192

1. INTRODUCTION mated the reliability of solar PV system designs using
the effects and criticality analysis methodology
Recently, the global energy consumption of fossil
(FMECA). L. Qiaomu [12] proposed a new method to
fuels increased significantly, which also severely dam
monitoring network base on topological structure
aged the environment. Thus the solar photovolatic
design. Amir Ahadi [13] evaluated the components of
system which could produce clean, abundant, pollu
largescale PV system using fault tree analysis (FTA).
tion free renewable energy is a strongly needed and has
And there are also many other investigators calculat
developed rapidly over last decades [1]. Throughout
ing the overall system reliability models using Monte
the world, the total installed PV system capacity has
Carlo simulation, such as considering windsolar
been grown exponentially from 300 MW in 2001 to
hybrid power supply system, dieselsolar hybrid sys
about 70 GW in 2014. So the PV system which convert
tem and photovoltaic DG [14–16]. However the pre
sunlight to electricity is a promising renewable energy
vious literature either mainly focused on the reliability
alternative for future prospects [2, 3].
assessment for the IGBT, capacitor and inverter or just
However the capacity as well as economics of the pay attention to weather condition. So the real electri
PV system could only be effective when it was operated cal architecture and the reliability model considering
reliability for several decades [4]. But the unreliable comprehensive influence factors for entire gridcon
nature and relatively high risks exist both inside and nected PV system is much few and still requires further
outside of PV power systems which was composed of research.
many vulnerable components such as PV array, electri
cal inverters and the energy storage [5, 6]. Conse In this paper, the new reliability assessment model
quently in recent literature, evaluating and analyzing for gridconnected PV system was established base on
the reliability of solar PV system has been a point of the MonteCarlo simulation and considering the light
interest. Because it could helps to predict system resources fluctuation caused by the ambient condition
behavior and devise appropriately timed maintenance as well as equipment component failure effects. And
plans [7–9]. In addition it is also significant for plan this approach could also be extended to estimating the
ning and longterm operation of large scale and grid distribution system with combined conventional gen
connected PV system [10]. Marcantonio [11] esti erators or even other renewable sources. In addition,
the accuracy and practicability of this evaluation
1 The article is published in the original.
model was tested with an actual system example.



2.1. Basic Model of PV Power Generation Cloudy

PV output power, MW
The basic PV power generation model could be Overcast
expressed as a function of surface temperature of solar
panels and solar irradiation in order to determine the
solar power generation more efficiently.

P pv = Y PV ⎛ 
RT ⎞
 ( 1 + L p ΔT ),
⎝ R STC⎠
where Ppv and YPV are the real output power and max
imum rated output power respectively. RT represents
the real solar irradiation. And RSTC means the solar 0
5 10 15 20
irradiation under standard condition 1367 W/m2. Lp is
the temperature coefficient of PV system. ΔT is the Time, h
temperature deviation from the reference value 25°C.
Fig. 1. Comparison of P V output in different weather.
Generally for all the system, the maximum rated
output power and module parameters such as inverter
characteristics could be same or could be found. How 2.2. Weather Condition Effect on Generation Model
ever the real output power was strongly depended on
the real solar irradiation and temperature deviation. The basic output power model was at the assump
Firstly the solar radiation RE0 after extraterrestrial tion of that everyday was clear day in the whole year.
radiation penetrating the atmospheric layer could be However the changes of weather and ambient condi
present periodic variation by a cycle of one year. And tion of PV geographic position would obviously affect
the calculating relation was as follows, the solar radiation as well as temperature. In this sec
tion, the weather condition could be divided into sun
shine, cloudy, overcast and rainy. Through comparing
R E0 = R STC 1 + cos ⎛  n d⎞ k t ,
1 360
30 ⎝ 365 ⎠ the attenuation tendency data of PV output power
under cloudy, overcast and rainy with the basic condi
where RSTC means the solar irradiation under standard tion in summer, the weather effect coefficient ηi, j
condition 1367 W/m2, nd was the number of the day in could be obtained. And the result was shown in Fig. 1.
Then the coefficient for other three seasons would also
one year. And the kt was attenuation coefficient of irra be calculated using the same method.
In addition, although the weather variations was
However the real solar irradiation R0 absorbed by extraordinary different in four seasons, the pattern was
PV panels was also influenced by the solar incident quite similar at the same region. So generally the
angle θh, change regularity of weather could be estimated using
cosθh = cosϕcosδcosω + sinϕsinδ, historical weather data of the specific area where PV
system was installed. At last, the basic model modified
where ϕ was the latitude of PV location, δ was solar by the weather effect coefficient in the whole year
declination. And ω was solar hour angle. And then, would be as follows
R0 = RE0 cosθh.
R '0 = R 0 η i, j ,
Secondly the temperature fluctuation for everyday
could be described as sine functions, where i and j represent the season and weather condi
Tt = αsinω + β,
ω also was the solar hour angle at t time. And 2.3. MonteCarlo Simulation of System Reliability
( T max – T min ) Besides weather condition analysis, some work has
α = 
2 also been conducted on the reliability evaluation of
critical components in PV system, such as inverter and
( T max + T min ) PV modules. In this study, it was assumed that all the
β = 
. failures could be repaired and the transient fault would
be ignored. Then the sampling statistics of time to fail
The Tmax and Tmin were the maximum and mini ure TF and time to repair TR of all components was
mum temperature in a day. made for the PV system. So the duration sequence of


264 HAIYING WANG et al.

Import PV system module parame–

Basic PV output power sequence simulation

Record Nyear

Weather condition sampling and PV output model modifica–

Components status sampling and PV output model modification

Nyear = Nyear + The annual available power capacity sampling

The annual load sequence simula–

Judge system running state, accumulate reliability index

Nyear < N?

Statistics reliability index

Fig. 2. Process of PV system reliability evaluation using MonteCarlo.

every component under each running state could be obeyed uniform distribution of [0, 1]. By synthetic
described as, analysis the duration sequence of all component, the
PV system fault power time could be determined.
T TF = – 1/λ i lnu,
As an often used method, the sequential Monte
T TR = – 1/u i lnu, Carlo simulation which owns more flexibility could be
used. And base on this, the flow chart of reliability
where λi and ui were the outage rate and repair rate of assessment of gridconnect PV system was show in
component i respectively. And u was a random number Fig. 2.

Table 1. Weather probability for PV system location

Conditions Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Sunshine 0.68 0.42 0.60 0.74
Cloudy 0.24 0.26 0.35 0.17
Overcast 0.05 0.14 0.02 0.03
Rainy 0.03 0.18 0.03 0.06



Table 2. Failure parameters for component of PV system Based on these data discussed above, the reliability
index which was expressed as healthy state probability
Outrage rate, Repair rate, Failure of PV system would be calculated using the basic
time/h h/time probability
model and model considering weather condition as
PV modules 0.283 249.49 0.0083 well as the influence of system component failures
Inverter 2.923 238.38 0.0815 respectively. And the simulation results were shown in
Fig. 3.
It could be found that with the increasing of gener
3. MODEL APPLICATION AND RESULT ating capacity, all the three healthy state probability
increased obviously in the initial stage. While at the
The developed evaluation model has been applied end, the improvement of reliability intended to gentle
to an example gridconnect PV system in the western and might become saturated when the capacity was
area of China. The base system contains a set of 20 PV over 800 MW. This tendency was consistent with the
arrays with the generating capacity from 15 MW to theoretical analysis. Because the larger of PV capacity
1000 MW. On the other hand, the system peak load is was, the more reliable of the PV system would be.
about 700 MW according to the chronological hourly When the capacity exceeded the peak load, the change
profile of this area. of reliability would be small. In addition, it also could
be concluded the simulated value become more accu
In addition both the failure parameters of PV com rate when the basic model was modified. In general,
ponent and the weather condition probability were the weather condition had a more pronounced effect
estimated using the local date records and were list in on the basic model than the system components.
Table 1 and Table 2 respectively.
However the total reliability of PV system from
50 MW to 1000 MW was estimated over just one year
1.00 of operation. So the influence of the system compo
0.95 nent was not remarkable, especially when the capacity
Healthy state probability

was low. Thus the reliability of PV system with capacity

0.90 1000 MW was also assessed using the modified model
0.85 under a longterm operation from one year to ten
0.80 years. The result was shown in Fig. 4.
0.75 It could be found the system reliability decreased
0.70 periodically as the operation time increased. And the
reduction of reliability also presented higher signifi
0.65 cance when the operation time prolonged. This could
Basic model
0.60 Weather modified mainly caused by the failures of PV modules and
0.55 Weather and component modified inverters. For instance, the 1000 MW PV system usu
ally was composed of 1 × 104 inverters. For 10 years
200 400 600 800 1000 operation, these component might had only a 77%
PV generating capacity, MW probability of operating without failures. And then
taking the PV modules into a account, the total reli
Fig. 3. Reliability index in different PV models. ability would decrease to 70%.
Healthy state probability

0.85 Analyzing the reliability of PV system was signifi

cant to optimize decisions in design and service in
0.80 longterm. This paper described a comprehensive
0.75 model for evaluating the reliability of largescale and
gridconnected PV systems, through the sampling of
weather condition as well as critical component out
0.65 rage probability. Additionally based on this developed
0.60 model, the sequential MonteCarlo simulation proce
dure was also established. What’s more, the compara
0.55 tive research of the practicality and accuracy of the
0.50 models was conducted using the practical PV system
0 2 4 6 8 10 in western area of China.
Year The result showed that the reliability increased with
Fig. 4. Reliability index for PV system after ten years ope the increasing of system capacity. And the simulated
ration. value become more accurate when the model was


266 HAIYING WANG et al.

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