Article originally appeared in PV Insider.
A new European report has provided a basis for standardized PV performance indicators but more detailed metrics will be required to maximize the gains from an increasingly competitive Operations and Maintenance sector, experts told PV Insider.
While much of the utility-scale PV sector is embracing performance benchmarks in order to assess Operations and Maintenance (O&M) performance and drive up plant availability, a lack of comprehensive standardized performance metrics is limiting potential gains.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help to underpin supply guarantees, provide performance comparisons over time and between plants, and measure the efficiency of O&M services.
“If we can use the same KPIs, we would have additional benefits because we see a lot of consolidation in the market, and all these companies would like a common base to measure and compare the performance of the assets,” Vassilis Papaeconomou, managing director at Alectris, a solar asset management service provider, said.
Papaeconomou was among a group of European industry leaders consulted by SolarPower Europe to produce the ‘O&M Best Practice Guidelines for PV solar plants.’
The guidelines, published in June, propose basic universal performance metrics for professional O&M services. The report collated views from O&M Service Providers, Asset Owners, Asset Managers, Technical Advisors and manufacturers.
Since there is currently no standardized ‘Availability’ calculation, engineers must often review how Availability is defined and calculated in order to establish performance guarantees, according to Heidi Marie Larson, director of Solar Generation at Leidos’ Renewable Generation Services division.
Availability benchmarks currently in use typically range from around 95% to 100%, according to industry experts.
“Availability is probably the most common metric that we see in O&M providers’ performance measurements, though the industry has not yet standardized how Availability for a PV plant should be determined, and what should and should not be included,” Larson noted.
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