- IEA PVPS’ latest technical report under task 13 focuses on customizing O&M services for solar systems around the world
- It attempts to bridge the gap that it believes exists in the absence of any comprehensive guidelines for climate-specific O&M programs
- Having specific guidelines can help de-risk solar power systems and also reduce module failures
The International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA PVPS) in its task 13’s new technical report recommends service providers to offer customized operations and maintenance (O&M) services, basing the same on all 7 different climate zones where solar power plants operate, to help bring down operational risks.
As the title of the report Guidelines for Operation and Maintenance of Photovoltaic Power Plants in Different Climates suggests, it offers guidelines that can de-risk investment decisions by reducing stress factors that could contribute to module failures.
The report is aimed at bridging the gap since the authors believe currently there are no comprehensive guidelines for climate-specific O&M programs.
The climate zones assessed for the purpose of this report cover more or less same climatic conditions in most parts of the world namely moderate, hot and dry, hot and humid, desert at high elevation; and then 3 for extreme conditions as flood-prone regions, cyclonic, and snowy regions.
“The increasing adoption of PV systems in different climate zones and conditions worldwide has indicated that stress factors such as temperature, humidity, exposure to UV light, rain, and wind could contribute to the occurrence of module failures. Knowing this fact, operation & maintenance (O&M) operators have looked to customize O&M services to the climate zone where particular plants are located,” explain the authors of the report.
According to the recommendations, avoiding ambiguity in the scope of services and responsibilities of O&M service providers. It can be accomplished by including at least 1 of the key performance indicators (KPI) as Guaranteed Performance Ratio, Guaranteed Plant Availability and Response Time in the contract, that enables measuring of contract compliance. These contracts should of course be based on local legislations.
Performance monitoring to follow-up energy flows within a PV system post installation should be considered, depending on the scale and complexity of plants. Predictive maintenance services with data collection devices onsite to gather insights on specific failures or underperformances is also recommended. In other words, intelligent monitoring is encouraged.
The report also argues that a preventive maintenance (PM) plan can seek to optimize overall plant and O&M budgeting, depending on plant size, design and complexity, not to forget native environment. Trained, skilled and well-equipped staff also contributes to overall cost effectiveness of an installation.
Currently, there are no turnkey solutions for aerial imagery diagnostic solutions for large-scale PV. The report writers believe aerial infrared (IR) and visual imagery are powerful tools to diagnose faults.
“Typical costs for base O&M scope from the years 2021/2022, including soiling mitigation, range from €6.5 per kW up to €16.5 per kWp*year. Additional costs for advanced diagnostics/analytics based on aerial IR scans (on bi-annual basis), range from 0.5 to 3 € per PV module or array. In corrective maintenance/spare parts action plans, maintenance reserve accounts are recommended to be set aside by the plant owner, to foresee possible replacement costs,” reads the report.
The Guidelines for Operation and Maintenance of Photovoltaic Power Plants in Different Climates report can be accessed on IEA PVPS website for free.