As more utility-scale PV plants come online, more is being learned about system performance and capacity. This includes a better understanding of what to expect with regard to system operation and maintenance, as illustrated in the following lessons learned:
- Focus on design, engineering, and the initial build of the PV plant.
- Target a downtime of 1% – 3.7 days/year – and prepare for 10% downtime – 36.5 days / year.
- Measure system degradation over time and clean panels when the cost of lost power approaches the cost of cleaning.
- Mitigate risk by using multiple smaller inverters rather than one large inverter.
- Perform site visits at least 1-2 times/year.
- Consider transitioning outsourced O&M (operations & maintenance) to in-house staff.
- Consider monitoring the system at the string level for plants between 250 kW to 2 MW and use the data to address maintenance needs.
- Note: larger plants may not see the cost benefit from this level of detail.
- Automate system monitoring and supplement by reviewing system reports multiple times throughout the day.
- Assure good access to historical data.
- Perform simple site analytics once per month.
- Identify core factors that determine the economic tradeoffs of monitoring resolution.
- Make sure warranty terms are clear; avoid vague clauses.
- Perform due diligence before agreeing to a construction contract.
- Solar PV Plant Operational Support Model
Where tasks are performed internally, cost estimates should be as close as reasonably possible. To derive a total labor cost and to ensure that each support need is addressed, a matrix of tasks can be developed capturing each variable. An analysis of support costs might include:
- Task description.
- The organization performing the work.
- Org WBS to which the work is charged.
- Hours for the task.
- Hourly labor cost.
- Yearly hours.
- Total yearly cost.
To estimate O&M costs, it is helpful to first have an understanding of the following items:
- Solar PV plant components.
- The various levels of maintenance and typical maintenance needs.
- The different monitoring types available.
- The plant operational support model.
- Additional considerations for PV O&M costs.
- Fixed-Tilt c-Si is defined as polycrystalline modules mounted at a fixed 30 degree tilt facing south.
- Tilted Single-Axis Tracking is defined as monocrystalline mounted on a north-south axis tracker tilted south at 20 degrees with backtracking.
An Ideal Partner
Customized operations and maintenance packages offer customers a cost effective and efficient way to keep their renewable energy systems at optimal performance levels. For solar farm owners that do not have the staff on site to maintain the installation, Energy for them, LLC, a turnkey solar solutions provider, offers O&M contracts customized to each solar farms needs.
Estimating Solar Photovoltaic O&M Costs
The number of grid-connected solar PV systems is expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades. This increase in the number of PV units leads to an increased focus by utilities and other solar generating firms on achieving the highest level of performance and reliability from the solar asset. In addition to thinking about upfront costs of the solar plant, determine a plan and budget for ongoing operations and maintenance expenses is essential in assessing the business case for a PV facility.
- Government incentives and regulations are leading utilities to think about ownership of solar-based generation plants.
- A shift from the current power purchase agreement – PPA – approach to obtaining solar energy assets outright creates a need for utilities to come up with a plan for regular maintenance on these PV plants.
- As a new solar plant nears completion, operation and maintenance – O&M – assumptions must be revisited to ensure that adequate funding is set aside for the reliable operation of the asset.
- Deriving O&M costs of a new solar photovoltaic plant in the absence of data is a challenge. Working through each cost item will also address many of the operational needs that require attention when bringing a new plant online. Projecting costs should be as much the result of careful process planning as it is an exercise in budgeting
- The table below provides a breakdown of costs across four categories – scheduled maintenance, unscheduled maintenance, inverter/equipment replacement and insurance, property taxes and owner´s costs – for conceptual 10 MW PV Plants.
We will make sure that we guide/advice your organization true the process and keep your investment in shape. Let us be your partner from the beginning in the project (initiative) after the investment is there. This will safe project cost, who will appear at the realization and maintenance phase and are expensive to manage. Did you know there are PV panels on the market who will lose 60% of their output in 3 years ?
Protect your investment with Energy for them
We proudly provides financing, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), and O&M services to customers throughout the world. Additionally, we have developed our own proprietary renewable energy monitoring system complete with a newly developed cost project and control module and is one of the first O&M providers to offer a solar power production guarantee. With a local presence and the extensive reach of O&M personnel for onsite repair services, customers are ensured that outages and faults are quickly resolved to provide optimal system performance. Backed by years of experience gained from their testing facility, in the engineering of innovative products, inverter monitoring, and site expertise, Energy for them has multi-megawatts of power, but also currently provides ongoing O&M services for solar Energy for them is a significant player in the consulted and constructed solar project market provides the followings: Project Management, Design, Civil Construction, Installation, Commissioning, Operations, Maintenance, Consulting and installations for customers worldwide.
ing. Richard Ruijtenbeek (bbe)
Think Global, Act Local and do it Lean and Green