As new PV installations stall, the emphasis in Europe is on the O&M market. As this competitive industry continues to grow and thrive, strategies are being established to improve O&M provision to enhance plant performance.
New installations of solar PV are falling, but the European O&M market is still going strong.
EPCs and developers placing more emphasis on operational assets in the wake of damaging cuts to FiT schemes, non-O&M companies developing new business lines to services the O&M markets, and the secondary market of new owners keen to achieve optimum performance, are driving a competitive O&M market.
Energy output has never been more essential: "If you do energy trading and you have to sell your energy in advance, then you can be penalized if you don't deliver the energy. It's a double hit" says Stefan Mueller, COO, Enerparc.
The impact of O&M practices on output and yield is clear: "A 1% increase in the performance of a system can translate into as much as a 10% increase in profit" comments Stefan Degener, Senior Director O&M EMEA, First Solar.
As assets age the O&M market is likely to remain active. Another driving factor is that the financial community is not yet convinced of the stability of PV revenue, and it is up to O&M to reduce performance risk through proven and effective yield-enhancing practices. For these same suppliers, a trend towards "simpler and cheaper" O&M contracts is expected (Angelo Guardo, Manager Technical Services, Enel Green Power).
Several key strategies for improving O&M have been established:
• Identifying and controlling under-performance
• Developing in-house capabilities versus out-sourcing
• Centralizing and automating monitoring processes
• Geo-tagging and smarter systems
• Advanced data analytics
• Robotics and drones