Solar project maintenance can help maximize uptime and extend the life of the plant. The delivery of solar power without any disruption maintains the stream of economic value generated by each kilowatt hour of production, and proper service is a critical component to ensuring optimal performance while minimizing the risks of downtime. A well-maintained solar installation can actually perform 10 to 30% better than one that is not. But installing solar arrays are just the beginning. Without proper operation and maintenance, system components could be void of all warranties.
O&M issues should be discussed pre-construction. The site manager oversees maintenance and the ordering of spare parts and equipment, and communicates with landowners, the local electric utility and state and local government officials. There are plenty of third-party companies who can perform O&M services to help prevent problems going unnoticed and prevent future issues. Typically, a site manager and project technicians work at the project site.
A good operations and maintenance firm will have a dedicated team of field-service engineers and technicians who will actively oversee the quality and performance of a solar project with effective maintenance. Typically, this will involve signing maintenance contracts — but make sure you tailor the agreement to meet your specific goals and needs.
The following services should be included in any serious maintenance contract:
Site visits: The maintenance company should come on site to inspect your installation and analyze whether it is producing the amount of power it has promised.
Solar our maintenance firm should perform. On average, regular solar array cleaning will increase annual solar energy production by 5 to 10% in climates with a dry season.
Electrical system checks: Maintenance companies should be able to check the electrical systems to make sure they are performing properly — and make corrections if they are not.
Solar Inverter preventative maintenance: They should be able to do the same checks and corrections for your solar inverters.
Other services can include:
• Audit energy production
• Evaluate network voltage and frequency
• Inventory and spare parts management
• Environment conditions control
• Coordinate warranty repairs and regular service checks
O&M crews are also increasingly using software and monitoring services to proactively pinpoint faults in a system and assess the financial benefits of service and maintenance by weighing repair costs against the value of energy lost. For instance, some software can monitor systems in real time and even archive data for a minimum of 20 years. This allows system owners and plant managers to make intelligent decisions regarding O&M expenditures. This goes along with a trend toward predictive maintenance, rather than reactive. Annual or biannual diagnostics and preventive maintenance address any potentials issues and ensure the system will continue to perform as designed. Out of reactive, preventive, and predictive maintenance, predictive offers the best balance of failure and maintenance costs.