Intelligent and data-driven fault detection of photovoltaic plants

Siya Yao, Qi Kang, Mengchu Zhou, Abdullah Abusorrah, Yusuf Al-Turki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Most photovoltaic (PV) plants conduct operation and maintenance (O&M) by periodical inspection and cleaning. Such O&M is costly and inefficient. It fails to detect system faults in time, thus causing heavy loss. To ensure their operations are at an ideal state, this work proposes an unsupervised method for intelligent performance evaluation and data-driven fault detection, which enables engineers to check PV panels in time and implement timely maintenance. It classifies monitoring data into three subsets: ideal period A, transition period S, and downturn period B. Based on A and B datasets, we build two non-continuous regression prediction models, which are based on a tree ensemble algorithm and then modified to fit the non-continuous characteristic of PV data. We compare real-time measured power with both upper and lower reference baselines derived from two predictive models. By calculating their threshold ranges, the proposed method achieves the instantaneous performance monitoring of PV power generation and provides failure identification and O&M suggestions to engineers. It has been assessed on a 6.95 MW PV plant. Its evaluation results indicate that it is able to accurately determine different functioning states and detect both direct and indirect faults in a PV system, thereby achieving intelligent data-driven maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1711
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


  • Fault detection
  • PV monitoring system
  • Performance evaluation
  • Tree-based regression
  • Unsupervised learning method


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