Solar has been around for some time now, and with systems generally expected to run for 20+ years, consistent maintenance will be key to sustained performance. As a result, operations and maintenance (O&M) is becoming increasingly important, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
The industry has taken notice. In residential solar, a number of programs have come out that take the O&M burden off of homeowners, such as Mosaic’s solar loans with included O&M service. Utility-scale solar, which has experienced a huge increase in capacity, is also focusing on optimizing plant performance to get a higher return on investment.
Despite this progress, there is not yet a strongly followed set of best practices for O&M. More than one organization is stepping up to try to change this.
Solar O&M 2014 Summit
Over the past decade, the solar industry has been busy signing PPAs and getting projects installed and commissioned. The success has led to a rapidly growing base of long-lived solar assets. Asset owners and the financial community are now focusing on the risks and performance of these systems. As the industry gains experience, the attention is being turned to developing asset management and O&M best practices that will support the industry going forward. Getting things right means better financial results and a better industry.
At the Solar O&M 2014 Summit, a variety of speakers — solar asset owners, investors, lenders, and the O&M community — will report on the latest developments in the industry to meet the challenges of operating and maintaining its expanding asset base. From the strategic factors shaping the O&M landscape to best practices on the ground, the event will provide the information and insight needed to better manage the industry’s assets and maximize its investments.
PV O&M USA conference
Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working together to lay the groundwork for O&M standards. They are examining the tools, techniques, and data analysis that improve plant operations and create higher levels of plant reliability. With a better understanding of best practices, operators will be able to plan their O&M strategies more effectively and cut down costs in the long run.
Geoff Klise, a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, and Andy Walker, a principal engineer at NREL, will participate in the PV O&M USA conference on 18 – 19 November, in San Jose, California. They will discuss how to identify the challenges of O&M, such as predictive methods for reducing risks, as well as the operational and cost impacts on the plants.
Klise and Walker will be joined by TJ Keating, the Development Director at SunSpec Alliance, a trade alliance of distributed energy industry participants who are working with the industry in the U.S. to develop standardized O&M best practices.
The future of solar O&M
These types of conferences and discussions focusing on O&M are becoming increasingly common. A strong set of best practices will greatly help with the continued adoption of solar going forward.