Increasing Solar PV Plant Profitability by Minimizing Fault Resolution Times (Part 2 of 2)

January 23, 2014

Handling of faults and general incidents in the solar PV business is one of the most critical operations for an O&M Contractor. Incidents have an immediate effect on electricity production of solar PV Plants and due to their frequency they can be an important obstacle towards operation optimization of PV assets.

One of the most important duties of an O&M Contractor is to respond and most importantly, to resolve issues that affect operations of a PV Plant in the shortest time possible. Of course Owners always request a minimum response time for contractor performance in that respect, but every serious and professional O&M Contractor should aim to further improve and provide their client with the best possible service.

Resolution time depends mainly on three factors:

  • Time until a fault is detected
  • Intervention time and responsiveness of field technicians
  • Actual resolution/remedy time on site

With proper management and optimum structure, the overall time frame from the moment a fault is detected up to the moment that normal operation is restored can be reduced by up to 65%. Assuming one incident every two weeks this immediately translates to an increased uptime of the PV Plant of up to 5.4%. Of course these numbers are based on a simplistic approach assuming that on each incident there is a 100% downtime of the plant. In most circumstances this is not the case. In many cases an incident may affect only part of the plant or just cause a degraded performance of the plant instead of a complete downtime. According to our experience, taking into consideration an average scenario, an increased uptime and/or performance of the plant may be increased by 2-3%; still a very significant number.

Based on these numbers any Owner immediately understands the financial impact to the model if such numbers are achieved. Most importantly, what regards the O&M Contractor, it clearly shows that choosing a reliable O&M Contractor, Operations and Maintenance is not a cost anymore; it can actually even produce extra income. This line of thinking provides a new perspective on how O&M Services are perceived.

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