To protect the investment of customers, great attention and care must be given to solar facilities. A robust and well-built O&M program can ensure these facilities perform to their full potential for the expected life of the system. Without proper operating procedures and scheduled maintenance, performance issues are bound to arise, reducing the savings passed onto the customer. The third-party company that is hired should have a developed O&M program designed to ensure the longevity and performance of these sites. This program should be based on industry-standard best practices implemented by large-scale solar operators worldwide.
SYSTEM MONITORING AND ALARM NOTIFICATION
System monitoring and alarms are the cornerstones of any solar O&M program. Full-time on-site personnel is not a cost-effective solution for most solar facilities. By monitoring the plant remotely for faults and tracking performance, the third-party hired can stay on top of the most common issues while keeping costs down.
Each alarm is prioritized by severity based on financial performance, cost, and danger to equipment. By prioritizing alarms and performing work based on economic impact and plant performance, companies can keep costs low while ensuring the plant provides the most savings to the client. In most cases, teams are dispatched to address problems before they negatively impact financial performance. Alarms or onsite issues that do not negatively affect performance are saved for future dispatches to keep corrective maintenance costs low and ensure plant performance.
EQUIPMENT WARRANTY MAINTENANCE
Equipment manufacturers’ warranties are a great way to save costs on major equipment. To maintain the effectiveness of these warranties, your third party should ensure all factory-recommended and scheduled maintenance is performed and documented.
ANNUAL INSPECTION AND TESTING
Once annually, the third-party team should perform a thorough inspection of each site as part of the basic services package. All annual preventative maintenance should be performed accompanied by inspections and testing of all major equipment. A full performance test should be completed comparing actual output versus expected output to identify any performance issues.
LIST OF INSPECTIONS AND TESTING
- Visual inspection of all major equipment and premises
- Clean equipment as necessary
- Photograph condition of all major system components
- Inspect and tighten all structure grounds
- Inspect tightness of module attachment
- Verify minimum hand tight of structure hardware
- Inspect condition of module wiring
- Inspect conduits for damage
- Check modules with a thermal imaging camera
- Check all accessible electrical connections with a thermal imaging camera
- Perform firmware updates for all applicable equipment
- Compare revenue meter readings to the sum of inverter readings
- Perform site-level performance tests for the past 12 months or since the last annual maintenance was performed
- Identify any underperforming inverters, analyze strings, and identify underperforming strings