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"Reaching 100 GW target by 2022 : Focus is on maximizing energy production from the installed systems, minimizing downtime and reducing the cost of the projects"

Perspectives
Typography

Mr. Manish Singhal, Head-BD, Mahindra Susten

What is your outlook for the Indian O&M sector for the next 5 years

The Indian O&M sector is changing rapidly. Over the last 5 years the solar industry has quickly realised the importance of effective operations and maintenance being the key to plant generation maximisation as well as equipment longevity. The market currently does not have a consensus on whether it should be In-House or Outsourced, we believe that Solar not needing O&M is a myth which developers are realising and in the coming years, O&M will no longer be looked as a cost centre but in-fact as a performance enhancer leading to increase revenues. Water consumption in O&M is going to be a matter of concern given scarcity of water and Mahindra Susten has developed in-house Cleaning Robots which will help reduce water consumption by over 80% besides helping reduce cleaning costs drastically. Adoption of such technologies will be the key in future

What measures should be taken for efficient costs and budgeting for effective Operations and Asset management.

Effective O&M begins right from effective Design, equipment selection and array layout – Having done the design and construction right is half the work done. The other perspective is the correct budgeting, in today’s competitive market, due to the increasing pressures on costs, Operators have started to cut corners during the O&M phase. Whether it is mobilising a team with no experience or it is improper spares planning the impact on your asset could be detrimental. 

At Mahindra Susten our experience of over 5 years, across a diverse plant portfolio, helps us to create precise budgets to attend to the plant with the best possible resources ensuring maximum benefits to our customers.

What can be done to maximize energy production while minimizing downtime ?

In our perspective, Minimising downtime is a subset of maximising generation. The O&M team at Mahindra Susten has a 2 pronged approach, 1. Maximise generation and 2. Improve plant longevity. The generation can be maximised through

-          High plant availability

-          Immediate downtime alert

-          Short MTTR

-          Effective module cleaning

-          Remote monitoring through a dedicated expert team

-          Plant performance analytics to identify & address under - performance

We at Mahindra Susten, achieve these goals through effective remote monitoring at our central command centre in Mumbai, additionally we have invested in a team of analyst who critically analyse each plant performance to give inputs not just to the site O&M teams, but also the Design , Procurement, Construction and the Quality teams. Also the performance is benchmarked on a continuous basis, across plants and equipment.  The site team is also trained extensively across functions to handle the complete O&M of the plant. The team is then supported by the various teams at HO for all other activities be it HSE / Sustainability or effective Warranty management. These steps over the last 5 years have helped us consistently maintain a plant uptime of 99.5% and are proud to have some of India’s best performing plants in our portfolio of over 500 MW.

What can be done to increase the performance of the project while improving the life of the project ?

The plant longevity can be improved not just by following the O&M guidelines from the OEM but also through conditional monitoring and predictive maintenance. The other important factor being the selection of equipment to ensure the OEM last as long as the plant lifetime, and provides necessary after sales support. In our experience already there have been OEMs who have gone out of business and no longer support the Solar industry. The solar PV plants have an expected lifetime of over 25 years and it is critical to keep a close watch on the equipment to get the most out of the plant.

Another important aspect is the focus on HSE and Sustainability and we are proud to be leaders in that area. Although the results are not seen immediately but it is important to ensure that we are net givers to the environment and society. Our efforts for Local inclusion, 6 Million man-hours of work without a single reportable accident, ISO and OHSAS certification, Education, Girl safety, Sanitation and Hygiene across our plant regions is a testamony to our commitment.

 

Mr. Ashu Gupta, Vice President-Corporate, Ujaas Energy Limited

What is your outlook for the Indian O&M sector for the next five years?

With the Indian Government’s plan to achieve an installed solar power generation capacity of 100 GW by the year 2020, the Indian O&M Sector will definitely be at a boom.  

With the increased installation of mega power plant having capacity in multiples of 100’s of MWs or above coming and the increase in distributed power generation, O&M will play a huge responsibility in increasing the service life of this solar Power Installations.

Currently total no. of expected employment generated per MW of solar power plant installation is around 12 people, however with the increasing installations there will be a new rise in requirement and that will be in the sector of O&M.   

What measures should be taken for efficient costs & budgeting for effective operations & asset management?

At the initial investment levels O&M friendly measures are mostly neglected; one should realize that every potential issue represent a risk factor which can have monetary consequences.  At the time of budgeting we are more bothered on installation at lower cost, effect of O&M of the plant is not considered.

For effective operations & asset management, focus should not be only towards installation of the plant by lowering cost; however it should be towards increasing the overall life of the project where O&M will play a key role. Adequate and strategic approach has to be applied towards efficient operation and maintenance of the plant. An effective strategic O&M not only decreases the unnecessary expenses but also maximizes lifetime energy yield of the plant.

Use of handy gadgets like IR Cameras, on site performance analysers, flash testers etc decreases dependency on laboratories and expenses on inspection. This will low down a costly affair which can cost the owner lacs of rupees to thousands.

What can be done to maximize energy production while minimize downtime?

A properly maintained plant can maximize the energy yield while minimizing downtime, by providing long term profitability to the owner. More importance should be given to predictive maintenance which in turn develops the better preventive maintenance mechanism. A predictive maintenance first mitigates risk factors by proactively identifying the problematic areas, potential issues first and addressing them fast before they can impact the plants performance. Owners should also consider ease of O&M beforehand at the time of execution itself, which enables have a smooth and effective maintenance. 

What can be done to increase performance of the project while improving the life of the project?

With an EPC and O&M integrated approach rather than only focusing towards cutting down the installation cost, the performance of the project will be increased with the improvement in the life of the project.

 

Mr. Anand Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Panchavaktra Power Limited

What is your Outlook for the Indian O&M Sector for the next 5 years?

As of now , India has installed more than 4 GW of Solar and atleast  60% of the plants O&M is outsourced. 

And the trend of outsourcing O&M seems to be the flavour of the industry. So O&M sector is poised for leap and is expected to be on the Sunny side.

What measures should be taken for efficient costs and budgeting for effective Operations & Asset Management?

- Regular site audits 

- Equipment & Performance Audits help in Budgeting of costs.

- Insurance of Asset also adds to your asset valuation.

What can be done to maximise production while Minimize Downtime?

- Effective Pre-emptive measures are best method for minimizing downtime. 

- Equipment suppliers should be made to visualize the changes in the performance of equipment’s

What Can be done to increase performance of the projects while improving the life of the project?

- Futuristic Design is critical as there will be many destructive technologies that might giving higher efficiency and performance of the plant.

- Innovative methods of execution are being seen that can not only reduce the cost of Project but also improve on performance

- Detailed analysis of site and discom is critical for ensuring better performance.

 

Mr. Ashok Nehra, Head-Development & Strategy, Rays Experts

What is your Outlook for the Indian O&M Sector for the next 5 years 

Total Installed capacity of solar plant in India is over 5.5 GW which is expected to be over 100 GW in next 5 years. it will be exponential increase in capacity. All these plant are under long term PPA and performance of plant will be most important aspect of all developers. Currently EPC companies are looking after O&M of project post execution with 2-5 years O&M contracts but as India add's over 15-20 GW projects YoY, there will be requirement of companies specialize in Operation and Maintenance of plants. It will be over Rs 6000 Crore industry. We are observing companies are forming dedicated O&M divisions and emergence of new companies, which are offering, specialized O&M services for solar plants. 

What measures should be taken for efficient costs and budgeting for effective Operations & Asset Management?

Operation and Maintenance is very labor intensive work. it required skilled technical manpower along with semi/unskilled manpower on long term basis. There will be huge challenges for O&M operators to maintain plants at high operating ratio and managing manpower along with cost. We expect lot innovation in automation and maintenance of plant will be introduced. We have designed process of 10 Minute fault identification and corrective measures sung automation of fault identification, soil losses to be kept in 2% limits using string monitoring etc. 

What can be done to maximise production while Minimize Downtime?

Preventive Maintenance is most important aspect of maximizing energy production, we have designed SOP's for weekly, month and quarterly preventive maintenance, this help us in identifying issue well before and regular maintenance will in increasing operating ratio of plant.

Use of analytics plays very innovative and important role in identifying potential issue in plant. We have defined set of parameters in SCADA system whose monitoring and analysis points out any potential down/issue in plant. Problems at any point in a production chain can reduce output to level of output from problem point. This analysis help us in getting addressed such weak points in chain and regular identification of weakest point in chain help us in increasing performance. 

What Can be done to increase performance of the projects while improving the life of the project?

Preventive maintenance of plant plays major role in life of plant and reduces downtime like regular checking of connections, transmission line, structures strength, site drainage system, transformers etc. Regular inspection of plant will increase life of plant along with performance.

 

 

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