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What is the Value of Solar Maintenance?

Things to Consider

  1. Types of Maintenance

2. Types of Service

a) Remote Monitoring

b) Site Visits

c) Array Cleaning

d) Electrical Systems

3. The Value

Types of Maintenance

Solar maintenance can be sorted into three large buckets.  Corrective, Preventative, and Predictive maintenance.

Corrective maintenance, while it can be essential for system performance, is the most expensive in terms of maintenance cost and lost revenue from non-performing components.

Scheduling the (preventative) maintenance of a solar plant allows for maintenance to be performed BEFORE a component(s) becomes defective.

The most cost-effective type of maintenance is predictive maintenance.  In this scenario, the data from a solar plant is collected and stored in a database for analysis.  Time series data can show trends that allow the maintenance company to more accurately schedule the activities that will effectively continue optimal solar performance for the least cost.

Types of Service

Remote Monitoring

By integrating a System Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) your operations company can perform data analysis, troubleshooting, maintenance scheduling, inventory management, and other functions. Voltaire Power is developing an effective remote monitoring solution using automation software.  The system can be customized to allow for variation in solar plant design.

Site Visits

Physically visiting a solar plant and collecting information on performance can be essential for planning the required maintenance activities.

Array Cleaning

Of course, a clean solar panel will harvest more energy than a dirty one and the difference can be between 10% and 30%.  But before array cleaning, it is important to check the warranty of the panel manufacturer and get assurance that your chosen cleaning function does not void the warranty on a thousand panels!

Along with the solar panel cleaning is shading.  Largely the curtailment of shading can be achieved by weed abatement.  Semi-annual weed abatement can keep your energy harvest in its predicted range.

The third part of this cleaning process can be vermin control.  Squirrels and other rodents, left unchecked, can create damage and potentially fires.

Tracker Maintenance
Trackers without maintenance drastically reduce performance

Electrical Systems

Your solar panels, combiners, inverters, wiring, and other balance of system components need to be inspected and maintained.  This can extend the life of components and allow for the timely replacement of non-functioning components.  Project technicians can use the information they gain to perform the proper planning of system maintenance to include warranty and inventory management.

The Value

Proper planning and scheduled execution of maintenance activities is essential for the continued financial performance of your solar plant.  Balancing the cost of maintenance against the potential revenue stream will guide your decisions on when and how much to do.  Larger solar plants and/or portfolios of solar plants allow for economies of scale in choosing your basket of maintenance activities, but some maintenance will always be necessary regardless of plant size.

To learn more about Solar visit:  https://renewablesassociation.ca/event/canadian-renewable-energy-forum-wind-solar-storage/

Fixed plant close-up
Even stationary plants need maintenance for continued operation

 

 

 

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