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  • Feb

What is an ideal solar Operations and maintenance program?

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It is critical to recognize that solar PV power installations are not maintenance free. To maximize performance, up-time, safety and financial viability they require continuous monitoring, inspection, preventative maintenance, and service calls to identify and address the many methods of degradation, under-performance, and failure that can occur.

Without routine maintenance, manufacturer warranties for components and equipment can be voided. The wide range of environmental factors as well as mechanical and electrical effects can quickly render a high quality and optimally performing PV system prone to failure.

There are two main items, 1) protect the investment and 2) ensure the life-cycle of the system. A solid preventive maintenance program is absolutely paramount satisfy both 1) and 2). Implementing a well-established operations and maintenance (O&M) program increases the effectiveness and function of a solar PV system.

An O&M program is typically a combination of two approaches, Preventative Maintenance (PM), and Reactive Maintenance (RM).

Preventative maintenance involves scheduled inspections, verification, and servicing intended to prevent failures, downtime and under-performance. Reactive maintenance addresses component failure or under-performance after it has occurred.

A robust PM program will have a higher upfront cost, but overall risk is reduced and RM costs will be lower in turn. An RM focused program will have a lower upfront cost, but increased failure and downtime risk.

In the absence of proactive PM, RM visits become more frequent–even severe and can quickly add up, often exceeding the cost of a PM based program.

A third type of approach that is emerging in the industry is known as Condition Based Maintenance (CBM).

CBM uses real time data to make maintenance decisions. This can be achieved by an experienced PV analyst performing routine site monitoring, data analysis and reporting. High quality on-site measurement equipment, Data Acquisition System (DAS), and 3rd party monitoring solutions are necessary to make CBM practical.

Industry leading monitoring providers are beginning to offer some integrated CBM features, which is improving its financial viability.

By servicing solar installations, Absolute Green Energy Corporation has established excellent relationships with the top equipment suppliers in the solar PV industry, and have developed standard maintenance procedures and plans for a wide range of systems.

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