The Spanish solar market could use more monitoring and optimization of its solar power projects. San Jose, Calif.-based startup Fat Spaniel Technologies and Finnish radio modem company Satel want to provide it.

Under a partnership announced Tuesday, Fat Spaniel and Satel will work together in Spain to remotely monitor solar plants and use that data to optimize their performance.

That's Fat Spaniel's business, built on the fact that photovoltaic solar power plants don't always perform as well as they're supposed to. It's among a host of companies seeking to help solar power plant operators improve their performance (see PV: You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure).  

So far, Fat Spaniel for the most part has arranged for third-party vendors to provide the communications equipment for those services, said Tom Tansy, vice president of marketing.

The new partnership will put Satel in that role in Spain, and could expand to broader European markets in the future, said Matt Powell, Fat Spaniel's CEO.

Not only that, but Satel already carries data from a large portion of the solar power plants installed in Spain to date, Powell said. That could give Fat Spaniel a possible foot in the door with the owners of those projects to add more extensive monitoring and optimization services, he said.

Spain's solar market provides an interesting forum for the services Fat Spaniel has to offer. The country's generous feed-in tariffs for solar projects led to about 3 gigawatts of solar being installed last year, as developers rushed to take advantage of the program.

But that also led to an oversupply of solar panels in the country and allegations that developers were fraudulently claiming project were complete before they actually were to secure the favorable tariffs before a September deadline (see Solar Fraud Could Eliminate Spanish Market). 

Now Spain has a new program for 2009 with a 500-megawatt cap on eligible projects. With uncertainty remaining over verifying the power output of solar power plants will likely be a priority of that government program (see Spain Kicks Off New Solar Feed-In Tariffs).

But then, getting the most out of a photovoltaic solar power project is also a concern for any developer that makes money from the electricity a project produces.

Fat Spaniel competitor Energy Recommerce (ERI) told Greentech Media last month that its monitoring products have been standardized for projects by developers such as MMA Renewable Ventures, Solar Power Partners and Tioga Energy.

Inverter companies like EnPhase, Tigo and Solar Edge are building in monitoring technology for their panel-level inverter systems. And inverter maker Satcon (NSDQ: SATC) in March came out with its Solstice energy management system to monitor performance for solar systems using Satcon's larger-scale, centralized inverters.

Fat Spaniel in June opened up its energy data to third-party application developers as a way to give customers more options for how they use the company's data (see Fat Spaniel Launches Open Platform).

Fat Spaniel raised an $18 million Series B round in January 2008 from Ignition Partners, Element Partners, Chrysalix Energy, PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund, and Applied Ventures, and closed a $7 million A Round in 2006 (see Fat Spaniel Launches Open Platform and Fat Spaniel Gets Fatter).

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