Solar System Operation & Maintenance: An Aspect Not to be Undermined at Any Cost

September 21, 2017

No matter how much we grouse about the development of solar energy PV systems to generate electricity harnessing solar energy, being an intermittent phenomenon in India, the truth is that there are many solar projects that have started to enter the phase of maturity. If we go by the expert opinion, it is estimated that by the end of the year 2017, the total installations will exceed 2 GW and almost half of these would have completed over 1 year of operations and maintenance.

Despite well planned and precisely implemented Engineering, Procuring, and Maintenance (EPC) services, when the plant starts to become older, operations and maintenance becomes more important to enhance the performance of the solar power plant. Solar power systems’ operation and maintenance is an aspect that is often overlooked before EPC services. Let us throw some light on certain important challenges and their solutions related to solar O & M services that hold the key for a successful solar PV project/plant.

Clean Solar PV Modules Produce More Power

The energy yield from solar modules depends upon the optimum cleaning frequency of the panels. Since there are no moving parts in the PV modules, cleaning of the panels is not a tedious task. In dusty environments, however, the panels need to be cleaned more frequently.

Working Inverters Keep the System Healthy

Solar inverters form the heart of a solar PV plant, and are one of the most complicated components. Since they are electronic devices, one must take care of them as required for other electronic devices, protecting them from the hot, humid, and dusty conditions of the Indian subcontinent.

Terms & Conditions of Warranty Management

It is mandatory to have a clear understanding of warranty terms from the suppliers. The O & M personnel must also have a good idea about the types of defects covered, the duration, and the key personnel from the supplier who takes up and enforces warranty claims.

Save Water, Save Solar Energy Systems

India’s geography facilitates availability of plenty of sunshine. But it also means that the plants that receive abundant sunlight are mostly located in remote places in arid regions where availability of water is scarce, and the dust accumulation on the panels is high. Since the panels require more frequent cleaning, as part of O & M services, in these regions, water must be used with discretion.

Efficient O & M Requires Skilled Manpower Too

O & M activities demand highly skilled manpower in electrical and electronics engineering, and sometimes it becomes quite challenging to get these skilled people to move to remote locations for work.

A solar power plant generates returns over a long period, about two and a half decades. And a good O & M process is critical for its success. Being careless about O & M activities is like squandering the potential of your PV plant which could otherwise spell magnificence, rather than falling into the pit of insignificance.