Sun. Oct 20th, 2019

The State of Digital O&M for the Photo voltaic Market

Annual photo voltaic plant operations and upkeep (O&M) prices will double from almost $four.5 billion in 2019 to over $9 billion in 2024. 

New analysis from Wooden Mackenzie finds that because the photo voltaic O&M market grows, world downward worth stress is driving the implementation of automated options and digital platforms for O&M, notably course of automation and asset administration optimization.

The longer term is undoubtedly digital. However, not all amenities and asset homeowners are able to implement digital options.

Optimizing the photo voltaic market

Course of automation might help the trade optimize technician time within the discipline, in addition to different areas. Technician effectivity is already rising, as measured by what number of megawatts of photo voltaic capability may be served by a single technician, and that development is anticipated to proceed.

Technicians used to have the ability to service solely 20 megawatts of photo voltaic capability. Now, it’s attainable for a single technician to serve 40 to 60 megawatts — greater than doubling their effectivity in some instances.

FIGURE: Evolution of Photo voltaic PV O&M Choices

Supply: Wooden Mackenzie

Making website duties reminiscent of mowing and module washing, and even safety, extra environment friendly might help cut back general O&M spend.

Asset homeowners and operators are additionally more and more investing in superior analytics and O&M-specific software program. This enables them to maneuver away from extra time-consuming strategies of spreadsheet-based analytics, decreasing operational prices and rising information high quality.

Digital platforms for asset administration might help reduce corrective repairs by means of proactive upkeep. Unplanned repairs alone can price homeowners as much as $three,000 per megawatt annually (based mostly on an average-sized solar energy system of 50 megawatts). The photo voltaic trade will see $16 billion of unplanned repairs over the subsequent 5 years.

Roadblocks to digital O&M

Though a good portion of photo voltaic PV initiatives at the moment have a monitoring system in place, few are synced in real-time with diagnostics instruments. Even fewer conduct primary periodical efficiency assessments.

Ideally, asset homeowners would have all operations operating autonomously and linked to an Enterprise Useful resource Planning System. Nevertheless, an end-to-end digital platform will not be but the norm. Asset operators may deploy among the digital options out there, however have but to implement a whole digital ecosystem.

Photo voltaic plant administration digitization can hit boundaries when asset managers understand they aren’t capable of talk with the prevailing information construction.That is very true in older photo voltaic initiatives, the place elements usually are not refined sufficient to deal with a number of communication protocols. For these initiatives, there may be little profit to implementing pricey, state-of-the-art superior analytics platforms.

It additionally doesn’t make sense technically or commercially for homeowners of initiatives near end-of-life to deploy an costly and clever platform. An older plant’s information acquisition system is not going to assist all digital system necessities.

International demand and worth stress

Because the photo voltaic market hits 114.5 gigawatts globally this 12 months — up 18 p.c from 2018 — the O&M market will proceed rising as effectively. Knowledge in 2018 confirmed an ongoing development of worth stress on O&M suppliers, which is inspiring competitors at rock-bottom costs.

Digital O&M is turning into extra related as photo voltaic gamers search to scale back prices, improve efficiencies and develop margins.


Leila Garcia da Fonseca is answerable for wind and photo voltaic Operation & Upkeep market analysis for the American area at Wooden Mackenzie. She is the creator of the latest perception ‘The rising position of digital within the photo voltaic O&M area.’

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