Your PV system generates cash for you. Some technical services ensure its the long-term function, and some are suitable for extra optimization. As is so often the case, the profitability principle applies to distinguish necessary investments from those that need to be clearly calculated so as to optimize yields. That way, you can exploit the full potential of your system and optimize your returns!
For your solar system to bring you optimal yields in the long run, everything must work perfectly. To do so, you can of course outsource the complete operation management to external parties, and rely on a comprehensive and continuous optimization in your interest.
But such an all-round carefree package is usually only available for large plants or portfolios, and it has its price – this quickly reduces your return on investment expectations for the owner.
It is by no means guaranteed that the full potential will be exploited, because despite the professionalism of the service providers, there are seldom suitable specialists in-house for every issue, and over time operational blindness can always spread – and this can be “refreshed” with an independent view from the outside. This is often the case when the plant is technically monitored and operated directly by the installer or by partners selected by him.
If you are not a specialist in inspection and maintenance yourself, it makes sense to have an experienced and established service provider who will carry out a regular inspection and thorough maintenance.
This ensures scheduled operation and thus long-term yield security. With a trained eye and appropriate photovoltaic measurement technology, a service provider is able to detect the most common faults before they actually become an expensive problem.
Such types of errors become visible if no regular on-site inspection takes place – at the latest with yield reductions. Here it makes sense (even as the owner) to regularly compare the yield values as they evolve over time, and to compare them with the original planned yield, and other external sources that can be found.
Latent signs of gradual impairments are usually not noticed with external technical monitoring, which is primarily concerned with ongoing operations; but rather in regular analysis over time. And when such signs of performance weakness are detected remotely, a professional should be commissioned to perform a thorough on-site inspection and maintenance.
Your solar plant: better yields thanks to targeted optimization
However, the good reasons for handing over some aspects of the technical management of a PV system are not limited to identifying and rectifying faults or safeguarding warranty claims.
Rather, in addition to identifying risks in the future, a specialist can also recognize unused potential in your photovoltaic system and thus suggest measures that will mean hard cash for you.
This can range from an inspection with a special focus on thermographic module examinations, to a particularly suitable and efficient type of system cleaning, to the replacement of individual important components (e.g. inverters), to the repowering of the entire system for higher efficiency and thus yields.
Finally, the technology of the plants themselves, as well as the possibilities for optimization, is constantly developing. A professional expert is not afraid to openly discuss which investment could be worthwhile for you and how quickly due to an increase in yield achieved in this way.
That way, you can weigh up investment alternatives on a point-by-point basis, and decide from the owner’s point of view in the sense of a long-term strategy in order to make your investment work for you in the best possible way.
Fresh (and manufacturer-independent) eyes see more
The decision as to which and to what extent technical services are to be outsourced basically follows a balancing act between saving service costs and avoiding risks – and with the secondary condition of reducing the expense on your side as the owner.
Thus, especially for tasks not included in a regular operational management or to be selectively added by specialists, the primacy is that the additional costs (incl. all ancillary costs) bring a corresponding additional yield over the planned (and financed) term or fixed period, so that a clear effect on the ROI is recognizable.
That can even be illustrated for activities that are widely considered to be technically undemanding, such as a system cleaning – and yet have an astonishing effect.
However, as is often the case, the numerical examples are only as good as the selection and awarding of such external contracts. Experience has shown that it is helpful to follow the following rules of thumb:
Check validity of offers
Is the price-performance ratio in line with the market? By standardizing processes, experienced service providers can boast price advantages, but they also have a clear basis for calculation and can explain this in case of doubt.
A cost-effective offer, especially from service providers new to the market, can be attractive, but the expected benefits must be guaranteed.
Does the partner bring the necessary qualifications, accreditations and equipment? The decision in favour of external professionals can only pay off if it really minimizes warranty and liability risks. Depending on the task, there are requirements based on DIN, VDI or ISO standards. Service providers are trained and certified by TÜV institutes, among others.
You should also pay attention to the experience of the providers and ask for references – no established provider shies away from making concrete recommendations based on current and past examples. At best, you can discuss quality and reliability with existing customers of the service provider.
In conclusion, if you want to bring in such qualified service providers, they must first be found. This can lead to a considerable search, comparison and decision-making effort.
You can, of course, minimize the effort involved in searching for and evaluating suitable service partners by obtaining information from independent platforms with experience in the industry, such as Milk the Sun.
Further tips can be found in our current operator guide.
This is a free translation. To read the original article in German: click here.