What is important for the technical maintenance of a solar power plant? What should be done to ensure the highest electricity yields possible? In this article, you will get an overview of how to perform the technical operation and maintenance of a solar park.
If the technology of your photovoltaic (PV) system is faulty, you must act quickly to avoid possible yield losses. This means that you will need to continuously monitor the system.
Reasons to carry out a technical maintenance
While you are legally obliged to have your system regularly inspected and maintained, it is also highly recommended to have regular on-site inspections. When a technical problem occurs, long distances between you and your system make it difficult to act swiftly on it.
A short-term technical problem (such as a defective inverter or a loose cable) must be detected quickly in order to identify and rectify the cause. In such cases, it is good when regional partners get involved straight away. If you are an operator of larger systems that are connected to the medium-voltage grid, it might even be necessary to cooperate with the grid operator in particular faulty events.
Long-term, subtle yield reductions are less obvious and their causes therefore more difficult to identify. However, they are also crucial for a good technical performance. A proper technical maintenance for solar power plants can detect faults with precision, enables a quick reaction, and leads to a faster correction. Thanks to it, you will minimize yield deficits, increase the profitability of your investment and preserve its value.
Depending on your technical knowledge and possibilities, you can take over some of the technical maintenance tasks yourself. For the tasks mentioned above, you can either work selectively with different service providers or delegate them completely to technical operators.
Some services providers offer everything from a single source, and let you decide to order individual service components in a modular way. Some service providers also take over the commercial management of your system.
External technical maintenance
Above a certain system size, many PV operators collaborate with technical maintenance operators, even if this involves additional costs. The services can usually be booked on a flexible basis. The tasks which you can delegate to technical maintenance operators are:
Based on a comprehensive monitoring system, the solar power plant and its components are constantly monitored. You can gain an insight into the performance through corresponding web portals.
Yield data monitoring and error analysis
The monitoring compares the target and actual production in order to stop creeping yield reductions at an early stage. Troubleshooting can be time-consuming, so the monitoring system must be able to provide data down to string level.
The more precisely a fault can remotely be diagnosed, the more cost-effective on-site operations will be. Response times are agreed by means of so-called Service Level Agreements (SLAs); the service operator will then act accordingly, based on the error messages delivered.
Maintenance and inspections
Technical operators can also carry out inspections. This involves inspecting the general technical condition of the system and identifying any defects. Depending on the situation, they can carry out maintenance measures directly on site.
Incident and compensation management
Depending on the agreement, technical operators can also handle damage with insurance companies, warranty claims and administrative procedures relating to the EEG-compensation with grid operators in addition to incident management. However, this can also be part of commercial management.
You can also arrange an independent system maintenance, green cuttings for open land systems, and professional photovoltaic cleaning. Some service providers employ appropriate specialist staff in their team.
Commissioning of technical maintenance
When it comes to the technical management of photovoltaic systems, the cost-benefit ratio must also be considered. In addition to your technical potential, you should evaluate and add the opportunity costs that arise from your own time invested.
The suitable service partners should be able to offer modern technology, fast response times and reasonable fixed costs. Do not forget to take the travel expenses to your system into account.
You should furthermore agree in the contract on the scope of action up to which costs technical operators are allowed to make repair decisions independently. This would reduce coordination efforts and speeds up repair processes.
When selecting the operator, you should consider carefully whether the installation company is commissioned or an independent external service provider. The costs for technical maintenance have fallen significantly in recent years, despite rising personnel costs, mainly because of the use of state-of-the-art technology. Therefore, long contract periods (e.g. 10 years) are currently more of a cost risk than securing good conditions. However, short contract periods and excessively frequent changes would also be economically adverse, since usually an initial general complex admission must pay.
Technical maintenance tasks in a nutschell
1. Remote control through technical monitoring
- Yield data monitoring and error analysis
- Early detection of long-term reductions in yield
- Provision of data for controlling
2. Maintenance and inspections including testing according to DGUV
3. Incident and compensation management
- On-site diagnosis
- Control of maintenance and repair work
- Cooperation with network operators for medium voltage components
- Settlement of claims with insurance companies
4. System maintenance
- Ensure green maintenance in the surrounding area
- Organize module cleaning
To learn more about this topic, you can read our solar panel maintenance guide.
This article was created with the kind support of Hagen Brey, Operations & Maintenance, Greifensolar GmbH & Co. KG.