Prices for utility-scale solar operations and maintenance contracts have dropped in recent years, driven by competitive auctions and fewer services being provided. Although these rates are at the bottom of the range, they often come at their own drawback. With the understandable focus on maximizing return on investment (ROI) and system production, system uptime is a key O&M objective. Two independent studies concluded that adopting shortcuts in maintaining solar projects now, will lead to greater expenses down the road.

Cutting corners on the full ‘scope of work’ contract, which includes site maintenance such as vegetation management, corrective maintenance and equipment checks, often leads to a higher cost over the course a project’s lifetime. Solar PV module cleaning itself is not sufficient in the name of Solar O&M. It is pertinent to mention that such a shift of compressing the O&M pricing often comes at the expense of the plant owner. They may just be pushed down the road but at a higher price for the project owner. The study found that the number of hours spent on corrective work for a 2GW plant is nearly 30% more than they actually allocated budget for O&M, all because their original contract leaves out ‘corrective maintenance’, which includes repairing and replacing faulty equipment such as inverters and modules.

Staten Solar suggest all of their clients to include corrective maintenance and other such techniques for optimum output for a project. However, it comes with an associated cost. With that being said, Staten Solar urges clients to invest a little now and bring peace of mind for the rest of the lifespan of the project.  As an O&M provider, Staten Solar has a vested interest in increasing the price of a contract on account of detailed O&M activities. We are aware that everyone looks for competitive rates, but Staten Solar also knows that other rates might not include some important parts of operation and maintenance just because they want to reflect the lowest figure possible.

Vegetation management, corrective maintenance and module cleaning can make up 40 to 45 % of a project’s total O&M costs, according to a recent study. Lower-priced O&M contracts often exclude those services, even though they are essential to a solar plants function. It makes sense for the project owner to go with a full wrapped service and in exchange, they are going to incur much fewer expenses that doing such O&M activities ad hoc.

While many O&M providers can attempt it, only a few have the boots-on-the-ground experience required to ensure optimum output from any solar power plant. Experience, reputation, and financial viability are all key to a successful O&M relationship and Staten Solar has all the above. For more information and quotes related to solar plant maintenance, please write to Staten.