Implementing a Successful O&M Strategy for Solar PV

April 16, 2014

Each solar photovoltaic (PV) plant has individual characteristics and needs; from rooftop generation providing supplemental green energy to multi-megawatt (MW) transmission interconnected utility plants with strict power purchase agreement (PPA) and interconnection contractual requirements.  Implementing your solar operations and maintenance (O&M) strategy can be separated into three steps:

  1. Analyze your Company and PV site(s) needs
  2. Plan for lifecycle maintenance
  3. Implement O&M, monitor sites, document and maintain compliance

With asset lives planned for twenty years and longer, solar power systems will require maintenance.  Some of the considerations in your successful O&M program include: What is cost effective, how resources should be deployed, how often maintenance will be performed, how to maintain warrantee compliance, and O&M budget needed or what can be done if resources are limited.  These are some variables inherent in a successful O&M strategy.

A plan can be self-developed or assisted by a solar PV O&M provider. Key components for developing and implementing a successful O&M strategy are presented in this solar O&M white paper to assist owners and operators in ensuring their solar plants have a successful operating life.

Plants with high performance or availability requirements will be better designed with high levels of site monitoring, with the ability to pinpoint issues immediately at a monitored control room.  Plants with poor economics may only need annual inspection for warrantee or insurance compliance.

Considering a plant’s criteria at a core level of an O&M plan details the maintenance philosophy, (preventative, corrective or predictive) on a site, system and equipment basis.

  • Preventative maintenance and testing on equipment and systems based on a schedule or conditional wear monitoring.
  • Corrective maintenance or “breakdown” maintenance where maintenance is initiated on an as-needed basis with alerts from monitoring or reporting
  • Predictive maintenance in solar through use of monitoring and knowledge base can identify cost effective cleaning cycles, pinpoint and speed repairs

By setting, measuring and acting on key performance indicators and success factors, solar assets can be monitored and managed by the Owner and Operator to consistently meet or exceed organizational expectations.   A clear and concise O&M strategy utilizing predicative, preventative and corrective maintenance can be readily implemented and easily documented for each solar facility providing for the correct level of asset management over the life of the PV plant.

The “Implementing a Successful O&M Strategy for Solar PV” white paper includes:

  • Analyze Your Company and PV site(s) Needs
  • Company Analysis
  • Plant Level Analysis
  • Monitoring
  • Maintenance – How Much or How Little: What is the Correct Answer?
  • Scheduled vs. Corrective vs. Predicative
  • Implementation for Lifecycle of Plant:
  • Division of Responsibilities
  • Operations
  • Summary

The white paper can be downloaded here.

Additional Solar O&M Resources
The Alectris Solar PV Owners O&M Evaluation Tool currently includes 85 discrete items related to the basic functions of operations and maintenance for solar PV plants.   It assists solar PV plant owners with:

  • A holistic, unified approach to evaluating O&M considerations and capabilities
  • Self-determined priority setting
  • O&M contractor evaluation scores mapped to the owner priorities
  • Solar PV O&M key performance indicators mapped to O&M contractor capabilities
  • A customizable tool to add more evaluation areas
  • Graphic depiction of contractor scores built into the tool

Solar plant developers, owners and investors can find out more about the tool through the company’s white paper, Evaluating the O&M Contractor.


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