RTR is one of Italy’s leading PV operators. RTR has seen promising results from its plant improvement plans. The business has launched ten initiatives that are expected to yield average productivity gains of 2 percent

Is there any limit to increases in photovoltaic productivity from intervening on operational and management performance? For RTR’s Operations management, the response is clear: technological development and innovation on integrated systems are pushing the limits higher. The goal is to not miss even a ray of sunshine.

Today, RTR operates 132 systems throughout the country, resulting in it being the leader of distributed generation in Italy. To improve the performance from its 332MW of PV plants, RTR decided in 2016 to launch a major investment program. This decision is already bearing fruit following the first operational interventions, thus showing the potential for increased energy produced by combining innovative investments with operational excellence.

“We are constantly analyzing new opportunities for improving our plants. We prioritise the most promising interventions and then complete them with capital expenditure dedicated to technological innovation,” explains Matteo Riccieri, Operations Director of RTR. The current plan contains ten improvement initiatives that cover more than thirty of RTR’s plants.

The operational benefits of each individual initiative are measured and compared with the expected levels. With this approach the most effective improvements can be found, and the configurations fine-tuned. They can then be rolled out to to the entire portfolio, when the features of the plant allow it.

Recently RTR saw the first results from an intervention to refurbish of module cabling. In the original configuration of many plants, the panels are installed in a structure with various levels where the upper rows are connected to the lower rows of panels. When the sun is low in the sky, at the beginning and end of the day, the lower panels were shaded by the higher ones from the next string and this serial connection between the photovoltaic modules meant that the negative impact of shade is also felt on the modules exposed to the sun.

“We have evaluated various solutions to address this additional production opportunity. Our tests clearly indicated that creating independent cabling for each line of panels was the best solution,” continues Riccieri.

“New cabling is delivering results beyond our expectations. Production on an annual basis has increased by two percent, with additional production peaks reaching even higher during the low irradiation months in which we have the most frequent shadows.

We are very confident in continuing to implement this strategy of technological and operational improvement, which I believe will generate important productivity gains for years to come,’ concludes Matteo Riccieri.