In a recent webinar Gabe Abbott, director of business development at Locus Energy, discussed why monitoring of installed solar energy systems is important.
He cites three main reasons to use monitoring — Fleet O&M, Financial performance and Regulatory compliance.
“Systems that are installed in the field do require oversight and require ongoing maintenance to perform optimally,” he said.
It is obviously challenging to just have people go out and check on sites physically. It’s much more cost effective to have a monitoring system that will report that data back remotely. In that same vein, Abbott finds that in this market people are always trying to squeeze as much as they can out of their O&M costs.
“Monitoring should help you cut costs by providing insights that help you optimize how you service your broader fleet,” he added.
Reactive versus preventive maintenance may also lead to financial impacts.
“Reactive maintenance may be warranty issues that need to be resolved,” Abbott clarified. “The preventive piece is also important. If you are able to warn a customer they are going to have a problem, or tell them a problem that they have that is small right now will grow substantially, then you can help provide a much higher level of service and avoid that foregone generation and revenue.”
Monitoring providers should be able to add that value.
Abbott sees many customers using third-party ownership models. “You need to use monitoring data on a billing application to invoice your customers for the correct generation,” Abbott said.
Another interesting piece Abbott noted is transaction evaluation. “You hear a lot of talk about securitization and about the financiers and the banks getting really interested in understanding solar better and opening up gates to more capital investment,” he explained. “Monitoring providers are in a unique position to provide the insight those entities need to become more comfortable with solar and understand the risk profile and the details so they can feel confident in making broader investments. This is good thing for the industry at large and certainly for the customers of monitoring companies.”
You need to report data to receive SRECs and for solar incentive programs, Abbott explained. Monitoring providers often offer this service as an option to their customers. “That’s not only a valuable service, but having an independent monitoring provider offer that is often a requirement in jurisdictions,” he said.
Locus Energy is an independent monitoring provider that provides fleet management capabilities, analytics, and integrations.
Published here with permission from the original publication on SolarPowerWorldOnline By Kathie Zipp.
The solar industry is increasingly applying these “asset management” techniques, developed originally for pavement O&M and more recently for water/wastewater pipeline infrastructure.
Analyzed strategically, a database of asset inventory, condition assessment and performance data can not only assure optimal performance of the existing fleet, but provide a feedback loop into future procurement.
Strategic Asset Management should also be routine component of bankability measures–and even marketing.