Solar Asset Management Optimizing PV Performance
As the global installed base for solar is expected to surpass 200 GW this year, there has been a growing requirement to manage the solar assets on day to day basis. Until about a year ago the concept of actively managing solar assets had always been an afterthought. With the solar market receiving attention from a lot of investors and banks this concept has been slowly gaining precedence.
So what is solar asset management?
It is defined as the ongoing management of financial, commercial, and administrative tasks necessary to ensure optimal financial performance of solar power plants.
One might consider this concept similar to operation and maintenance (O&M) of solar power plants having a life span of 25 years. In contrast, the operation and maintenance is defined as set of activities most of them technical in nature, which enable the solar power plants to optimally produce energy.
Hence, operation and maintenance is essentially a part of solar asset management, termed as Technical asset management.
There are primarily four distinct roles in asset management:
Technical asset management
Maintaining “wellbeing” of the physical asset
Activities under the same include regular inspections, maintenance, solar panel cleaning, vegetation removal etc.
Active monitoring of the physical asset
This includes actively monitoring the plant and taking care of corrective maintenance and considering performance improvements. With advanced solar technology, real-time remote monitoring of the physical asset is possible, allowing the user to keep a check on the performance of the solar power plant.
Commercial asset management
Managing regulatory and contractual obligations
With potential interest shown by investors and banks to actively invest in solar power plants, there has been an increase in tripartite solar power purchase agreements. Hence, all activities involving interfacing with banks, investors, regulators, local authorities are included under asset management. This also involves managing regulatory, financial and administrative dealings with end investors.
Managing vendors and sub-contractors
This includes taking care that all regulatory and contractual obligations are met and ensuring that the vendors and sub-contractors are performing as per role provided to them. This activity is important, since it affects the profitability of the company that owns the asset.
India is blessed with abundant sunlight but whether the sun shines or does not shine is not under the control. Hence one can conclude that proactive and efficient solar asset management will help generating the expected returns from the solar power plants and stimulate further investment in the solar industry.