What does it take for solar installers to provide O&M services?

July 06, 2016

Article originally appeared in Solar Power World.

What does it take for solar installers to provide O&M services_ Alectris Solar Power World TGlobal solar installations are expected to reach 321 GW by the end of 2016, exceeding 756 GW by 2025. As the world’s inventory of solar PV assets grows, it is not surprising to see those industries related to post-installation—operations, maintenance and asset management—exploding as well.

This explosion of solar PV systems of all sizes around the world is driving the need for cost-effective O&M practices and company specialization to ensure best practices and superior plant performance.

While the solar O&M market got its start when EPC companies needed to service the installations they built, the landscape is changing. Lately, the market is moving in favor of independent service providers (ISPs). This can be attributed to the maturation of the market and the need for specialized service offerings. The level of complexity for O&M and asset management grows as the size of the install increases, with utility-scale installations requiring a sophisticated suite of services to manage and onboard large amounts of power onto the grid.

But for those installers looking to add O&M to their service offerings, here are the basics on how to get started.

Cost Factors of In-House Solar O&M

If installers are interested in providing solar O&M services or expanding on their existing capabilities, there are several areas of functionality that should be reviewed. Can the installers perform plant monitoring, analytics, root cause detection and other reporting functions? Are there dedicated skilled technicians, O&M managers, software/IT experts, financial and accounting personnel available?

2 Photo Credit Alectris- croppedThere are three basic functions an O&M department is asked to perform:

  1. Fast problem identification and resolution
  2. Minimization of down-time due to faults
  3. Detailed reporting and transparency

In order to determine the company’s ability to comply and even outperform the contractual obligations related to a specific solar project, it is important to define what qualities and competencies are needed to excel in these three functions.

The design or architecture of the O&M provider, whether in-house or outsourced, can be evaluated on three areas of functionality–core systems, supporting systems and management.

For the full article please see Solar Power World.