How Is Automation Transforming Solar Asset Management?

0
492

Automation can help save on productive time, manpower, investments, costs, reduce scope for errors and thus allow asset managers more time on hand to focus on productive functions such as analysing data and necessitate profitable business decisions. Also automation helps predict risks, and diagnose errors in the performing asset. Businesses can then be assured of stable RoIs.

Let’s hear from a few experts, their views on why automation is no longer a “good-to-have” but a “must-have” element for seamless operation and maintenance of the solar plant.

Mr. Shashi Shekhar, Vice Chairman, ACME Solar

With an increasing share of solar in the energy sector, automated asset management has become very important as manual examining of entire plants is becoming inefficient for it requires more resources (manpower, time and money). Use of an automation system in its full force helps identify and diagnose the under performing asset in the system which minimizes the potential risks and ensures that the expected returns are met.

Additionally it also aids in bringing transparency into the system and monitors KPIs like performance ratio (PR), time between faults, types of tickets raised, variance between expected and actual values, etc. The system indirectly helps to identify the efficiency and capability of all the assets (man & material) and also acts as a single window for the entire portfolio.

It is observed that in the energy sector, asset management is at times considered limited to only monitoring. However, solar asset management covers technical, commercial and financial aspects as well, which therefore not only affect the performance parameters like PR, CUF, PA etc., but also tracks costs, warranties, and ensures regulatory compliances are met. An asset management group works every day to develop and recommend strategies to increase the project’s operational performance that renders positive returns. It is of key importance for an organization, as failure to proactively oversee the health of a system results in a significant loss of capital.

It can hence be said that Asset management is a true amalgamation of knowledge, technology and experience, and when renewable energy plants are coupled with effective asset management system, it leads to a reliable and sustainable system.

Mr. Manoj Gupta, Vice President – Solar, Fortum

As the world is realising the magnitude of the threats of climate change, the focus on renewable energy generation is at an alltime high. Talking specifically about solar energy, the overall energy consumption of people around the globe annually is less than what Earth receives from the Sun in 2 hours, so there is an enormous potential to be tapped in this space, especially in a country like India where we receive abundant sunlight throughout the year. We, at Fortum India are making our presence stronger in this segment and are extensively adopting newer technologies to improve the quality of our operations.

One of the most essential aspects of carrying out solar energy operations smoothly is the management of assets across solar plants. Making sure that these assets are wellmaintained and produce the desired results is a space that can further be revolutionised with rampant advancements in the world of automation technology. The solar energy sector is an asset intensive industry and it will strongly benefit through such technological advancements in the times to come.

Handling data manually can always lead to some errors from time-to-time that can cause loss of time and money. Automation will ensure accuracy in mapping, assessing and presentation of data from solar assets. Also, by automating the processes of asset management, data becomes more centralised and is easily accessible to its stakeholders.

The reduction in costs and lesser dependence on manpower will certainly provide cost savings, help in making solar power more accessible and competitive with traditional methods of producing energy.

Automating asset management will also help in visualizing data automatically by displaying essential KPIs specific to the requirements. All of these aspects will result in saving administrative time and harness conservation to a great extent in the coming years.

Mr. Simarpreet Singh, Director and CEO, Hartek Solar Pvt Ltd

Enabling you to have a comprehensible and accurate data in real time right at your fingertips, automation can drive efficiency by speeding up your work and freeing up more time for your employees for other productive tasks. Tracking down a crucial contract, for instance, cannot get easier than this. Automating a lengthy process like Solar PPA invoicing while doing away with any scope for error can save a lot of time and effort, giving you more time to analyse data and take considered decisions.

The integration of solar energy asset management with software will ensure that all your important business data and processes are managed and updated at one centrally accessible place. You can even customise your asset management process to suit your business needs, thus saving both time and resources with the streamlining of workflow through compliance reminders.

The adoption of automation processes can also help reduce operational costs and running
expenses. This has become imperative to maintain a steady flow of profits by offsetting the
constant drop in prices through automated solutions. The operation and maintenance of
solar projects, for example, can become much more cost-effective with advanced analytics
and a customised software by improving the efficiency of site tasks like mowing and
module washing.

Digital platforms for solar asset management can also help minimise corrective repairs
through proactive maintenance. Syncing solar projects with a monitoring system, a
performance assessment mechanism and diagnostic tools which offers solutions in real
time, can go a long way in reducing costs, enhancing efficiencies and improving profit
margins.

Mr. Suraj Vernekar, Co-founder & CEO, Aegeus Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

As we know that the most expensive asset in a solar project is the Solar panel, which if not maintained properly will result in efficiency drop approximately upto 50% due to dust accumulation, bird drop, etc. on the panels and it’ll highly impact the power generation. To avoid this loss usually manpower is used for cleaning solar panels. This again uses a lot of water and nylon brushes that harm the module surface. Further, it also adds on to the manpower cost. So automation and robotics can help maintain the efficiency of the modules and protect them. Using a Waterless Module Cleaning technology can help save a lot of water as well.

We strive to provide solutions to increase the energy efficiency of our client’s solar projects by studying the layout of the project and suggesting the right amount to be invested on procurement of robots for cleaning, depending on the geography, size of the project, current cost incurred for cleaning, and lot of other factors are considered to understand the requirements well. We then offer the right investment and procurement plan for an automated robotic cleaning solution which will deliver businesses an ROI within the next 6 to 18 months.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.