Turning Under-Performing Solar Plants into Revenue Stars
A dramatic case study demonstrating the rescue of a distressed ground mounted solar PV plant in Italy was presented recently by Vassilis Papaeconomou, managing director of Alectris at the inaugural Solarplaza Solar O&M North America event in San Francisco, CA.
Inadequate engineering and poor maintenance led to severe solar plant under-performance
The solar PV plant, one of four in a portfolio totally approximately 1 MWp, is located in Puglia, Italy. It is a fixed, ground mounted installation featuring EEI 250 inverters and ECW 240 solar panels.
The solar PV portfolio had been in operation several months when it started to exhibit severe technical deficiencies and under-performance.
This was mainly due to the following reasons:
- Plants were constructed under extreme time pressure.
- EPC Contractor had limited experience in solar PV.
- EPC Contractor who undertook the O&M of the plants experienced financial difficulties and neglected O&M performance.
The results of inadequate solar operations and maintenance included:
- High costs of continuous interventions
- Low PR (<66%)
- Low Uptime (<93%)
- Low IRR
Solar plant rescue process included thorough cost/benefits analysis
Alectris stepped into this portfolio of distressed plants as the solar O&M manager starting in late 2012. The company started with a diagnosis of the plants and recommendations for initial performance enhancements. This led to the implementation of immediate actions aimed at increasing the portfolio’s energy generation and performance availability. The range of maintenance measures taken by Alectris was outlined in the Solar O&M NA presentation.
In parallel ACTIS, the proprietary monitoring tool of Alectris was installed on all the plants.
The first three months constituted a transition period to run a complete and thorough plant diagnosis, suggest and implement a series of discretional variations aimed at correcting all the engineering and construction mistakes and increasing significantly the portfolio’s performance.
Dramatic increase of the solar portfolio’s profitability
Beginning with the initial plant turnaround, the results are very strong. In terms of returns, comparing the same periods of the two years, an average performance increase of 20%, corresponding roughly to an average 60.000€ per plant of extra revenues (gross) has been generated.
The total costs for the all the variations foreseen are less than 20.000€ per plant, translating into a payback period of approximately of two months.
“Finally I am glad to say that I found a good and professional O&M contractor. I was extremely skeptical at the beginning due to a very bad previous experience. Alectris immediately took steps to improve the production of my PV plants following a rigorous analysis, and the benefits were notable, significant and durable. We have being working together for more than a year now and I am completely satisfied.” Michele Romanin – Jacur, General Manager GRU.CO. S.r.l.
The presentation of “Increasing Solar Plant Performance” can be downloaded here. The Executive Summary can be downloaded here. The full white paper is here.
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