While measuring Inches:


O&M PV&HCPV Plants Keys; That is: Operation and Maintenance Keys In PhotoVoltaic and High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Plants

PV&HCPV Plants O&M Key issues, detailing conceptually broader issues, what the objectives are, what options we have, the importance of preventive work of the O&M and Pre-Plant operation actions. Also goes into some more specific issues such as the type of contract, clauses, prices, guarantees, and monitoring services, to be clear about their violations and complaints.

Key in Operation and Maintenance of PhotoVoltaic&High Concentration PhotoVoltaic  Systems. Fortunately, we have to say that all the above concepts, usually longer be the domain of industry players, once after these years of development, in which the experience has changed the ways to manage photovoltaic plants.

Objective and options:
The aim of the O&M of a PhotoVoltaic plant is to maximize the productive capacity of the plant, as their incomes are we going to give a total return index.

We must ensure that their exploitation is adequate, given that the approach we have to give the maintenance and operation of our solar plant must be preventive, leaving room for corrective action only when the components are nearing the end of its life cycle or when supervening events happen as atmospheric agents (wind, shocks …) or by hidden due to manufacturing defects.

The problem lies in knowing how far it has to come up with this preventive approach, and for that we choose the best options for O&M for the plant, finding out several aspects:
– Who will perform the O&M (the sponsoring company, a specialized company, ourselves).
– What tools we use to support us (more or less sophisticated monitoring or signaling).
– In what way will be present at the facility staff (continuous presence, discontinuous or requirement).
All of the above questions will be depending on the size of the plant, the type of monitoring it (Sun-Trackers require more staff in the O&M).


Photocourtesy. Eduardo Collado (Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management SLU)
Regarding monitoring to be performed, they will have to make a number of clarifications as:

– Monitoring systems elaborated with too many alarms may turn them into unuseful. It will therefore be necessary to perform a “tailor-made” according to each installation.
– By contrast, by direct monitoring the inverter may produce unnoticed aspects of underproduction.
– It is very convenient to have a monitor that allows us to compare energy produced by similar facilities in the same plant. This is easy made in large plants, or when different assets are managed in the same geographical areas by analyzing historical records of each facility within the plant, to detect anomalous parameters behavior (fi, voltage or current) that allow us early detection of possible stops.

Preventive actions in the operation
They must take actions on the operation of the photovoltaic plant, considering the preventive maintenance (have to define the maintenance actions performed and their frequency to further develop a tab or record preventive maintenance on each item and expected date of realization) and spare parts on the ground (in large plants, the probability of failure delivery time is need for in situ replacement of all components, assessing the criticality of the item, without forgetting other issues such as training, weather predictions for the case of the followers, supervening incidents detection, detection of network outage on the side of the electric company, or physical and / or tele) surveillance.

Prior to the operation of the plant shares
The O&M of a plant is not only the fact itself of having outstanding specialists of the plant, since it is also necessary to take a precautionary approach should already be present from the design phase of the plant.
Such an approach to which we have referred, we have had to consider in the design of the plant, at the time of provisioning components by requiring collateral teams at reception, or hiring all insurance plant.

Choice of the model contract
The first of the specific issues is the choice of the standard contract, with its most important clauses. We must take into account the pros and cons of contract O&M, in its full scope, with regard to the facilities of the plant: the different types of maintenance, predictive, preventive, and corrective, issues of various supplies, markets , insurance, security …

We will have to consider whether a total or partial coverage of the contract is necessary because in the first case, we will have positive arguments:
– Transfer of technical risks to third parties
– Transfer of occupational risks to third parties
– Economies of scale (because it will hire a specialized company, volume and experience, provide us with security and lower cost)

We will also have negative arguments:
– Loss of technical know-how
– Loss of visibility problems and areas for improvement (unless the company hired us properly informed, entirely feasible issue)
– Higher cost (for the case not from time to time perform benchmarking or comparison of the state of price and quality, and we could stay out of step with reality)

With respect to the relevant clauses, it is very important that on the basis of experience, a good contract, it is clear what is included is drafted, what is excluded, what partners we will be, what resources we have hired, adequacy and clarity of procedures for assessment of guarantees, with penalties, break clauses, terms of correction of errors, finally, a contract in which everything is well tied, ensuring the owner before any technical problem or economic, that might prejudice.

Within these clauses, seek as objective, maximizing profit also maximize the life of our facilities, that is:
– High Availability
– Maximum efficiency
– Improved performance (given the previous two premises)
– Minimum cost
– Increased life

The most relevant provisions will be, with regard to O&M issues  and guarantees:

• Operation and Maintenance (O&M)
– Monitoring (monitoring of the plant to direct the maintenance more efficiently)
– Forward (tracking preventive maintenance planning)
– Generation (at the point of measurement, may be different from the energy produced)
– Action (report and solar resource tracking)
– Actions (to the information received, the management team may propose improvements in the operation and perform corrective based on that information)

• Guarantees
– Availability (. Plant capable of generating electricity with X% of available solar resource should look clear and measurable methods)
– PR (performance modules is guaranteed by the manufacturer -25 years, once past the warranty period which assumed the EPC to the CAD date)
– Response times (set from the type of incident)
– Penalties (to negotiate)

• Pricing: For pricing, we must define a documentation:
– Technical information
– Scope of work to hire
– Contractual Terms
– Guarantees
– Penalties
– Resources (human and material)
– Payment conditions
– Termination clauses
– Annexes: standard contract, guarantees to manage, etc.

Financial guarantees:
The financial guarantees should allow the possibility of charging a penalty and, if possible, an immediate realization of collateral with a total clarity about the terms that enable the collection of such penalties, or of such execution.

For the implementation, we will have three ways:
– Penalties for contract: in the event of loss of availability or performance ratio, although the latter does not depend on asset manager or O&M, and it is not the owner of the basic elements of the system, and could not be subject to guarantee them.

– First demand bank guarantee: it is an independent and detached warranty contract, which takes effect by simply notifying the debtor default, without being required proof that has actually happened. The request for payment of the guarantee can be made by the recipient of objective or independent business guaranteed, so that the guarantor will be forced to pay without question. Which it will be endorsed after the beneficiary to demand accountability been abused to demand payment from the guarantor without the factual situation involved in the guarantee was given. Obviously we are talking about a kind of guarantee that will increase the cost of services provided, as it should be secured by the asset manager or O&M the existence of guarantees of the main materials, or a self-insurance.

– Deposits: can be regulated so that it works, in fact, as a guarantee. This can be a solution in cases where financial institutions requiring extremely high counter for granting the guarantee.

– Corporate guarantees.

Monitoring services
It will be necessary to have a financial monitoring (administration, requirements, budgeting, reporting, …), a legal follow-up (contract management, management assurance, communications management, requirements …) and technical monitoring (continuous performance monitoring, warranty tracking , contract negotiations, reporting …).

Photovoltaic Thermographs


Within the technical monitoring, they have to be done in terms of monitoring:

– Implementing procedures
– Planning based on the annual range
– Performance Analysis (modules and other equipment)
– Thermographic Studies

– Activities aimed at minimizing energy losses and extra-costs for correctiveM
– Cleaning equipment and modules
– Regular replacement of equipment (filters, fans, …)

– Repairs minimizing production loss due to breakdown
– Close consequences, such as damage to other equipment
– The cost of corrective is always higher, it is convenient to search for alternatives by extending guarantees top teams.

We must not forget, those services and supplies, although not directly related to production are essential for the operation of photovoltaic park:
– Monitoring
– Communications
– Power consumption
– Insurance
– Miscellaneous supplies


All these tracks, will be effective with regular meetings to monitor contract, which are reviewed together the general lines to consider (partners, planning, deliverables …). These periodic meetings will be held at different levels depending on their content (operational, financial and / or legal) to have a good exchange of information (scheduled, with production shutdowns, weekly, monthly and annual reports defined by individual contracts, or maintained records after each meeting).

PV&HCPV Plant performance report

It should also be defined reporting system type:
– Weekly: resource, production, deviations and unavailability.
– Monthly: production analysis, planning, O&M, spare parts used, economic analysis.
– Annual: technical performance and evolution of materials, major events, incurred costs, enforcement of guarantees.

Technical Issues
It must have defined procedures, clear evaluation methods for the guarantees, a redundancy in information sources, certification by third parties, flexibility for both parties to solve problems, and a good procedure for implementing the defined guarantees. These technical issues, make the diference, where appropriate, to the main installation (modules, inverters, structures, appropiate solar-cable-wide selection, circuit-breaker protections, losses In the Power Transformer, provide effective Substation grounding and earthing, networking …).

Claims module manufacturers
As the most important part cost of the facilities, these claims, although they are offered by all manufacturers, should know and be well defined, as they may affect the return on investment.

Therefore, we must not forget the guarantee that gives the manufacturer, which can be:
– Guarantee materials for 5 years
– Guarantee power loss (10 years 10% 25 years 20%)

There must be a thorough module issue-monitoring, whether specific or generalized defects:

– Hot Spots
– Visual defects (yelowing, snail tracks …)
– Failure of materials (loss of insulation, thermal stress breakage, welding …)
– Power loss (excessive degradation, polarization …)


PhotoVoltaic Plants Maintenance

All of the above should corroborate with the visit of the relevant technical, for testing in situ, or with the report of an independent specialized company.

Claims to insurance companies
It is very important to have well-defined safe installation, to minimize risks to take:
– Any risk of property damage
– Profit Loss
– Liability

And these insurance provide adequate coverage in terms of:
– Occurrence of the accident (flood, lightning, theft of modules and cables, etc.)
– Repair the damage
– Party insurance (property damage and / or loss of profit incurred)
– Evidence of Coverage (consortium or by the insurance company)
– Visit of the expert
– Confirmation of the amount of compensation

Remember that after all the twists given to low to the remuneration of such facilities (RD 413/2014 and Order IET / 1045/2014 and others), it seems logical that any photovoltaic producer questioned the asset management contracts and O&M, in terms of price, in the scope of these services, because these services are specialized, focusing on companies with large volumes of facilities at their marginal costs allow them to offer increasingly lower costs, by adapting them to what is correct to pay, thus helping the feasibility of PhotoVoltaic systems.

Ernesto Guillamo Altozano is an Industrial Engineer and Renewables and Environment Master by Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Control by ETSIDI(UPM).


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