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Top Trends That Influenced the Solar Asset Management Industry In 2020

COVID-19 is surely a black swan event for the global economy, impacting almost every business segment in varying proportions – be it Hospitality & Tourism, Aviation, FMCG, Education or industries like Metals, Oil & Gas, Textiles, Cement, and Financial Institutions. One of the prime enablers in the government’s bid to achieve the clean energy target, the solar segment too is faced with a series of short- and long-term repercussions brought forth by the pandemic.

The disruptions in global and domestic supply chains have posed a serious concern for solar developers and solar equipment manufacturers in the country, at least in the short-to-medium term. Moreover, the pandemic has impacted the execution of ongoing projects as well. Nevertheless, post-pandemic, manufacturers need to focus on solar asset management and operation & maintenance (O&M) as they are key to technical and economic performance of solar systems and plants. While digitalization has played a key role in O&M practices around the world specifically in the renewable energy sector, leading to the development of specialized asset management platforms, solar has been slower to adopt more advanced asset management approaches. However, the solar sector needs to adopt more advanced practices in O&M and asset management to emerge out of this crisis. Let’s take a look at the top trends in solar asset management that emerged in 2020:
  • Resource allocation & cost-efficiency: Optimizing plant capacities and using private investments to minimize cost of capital can help in creating generation assets with low unit cost. If the project involves construction of a transmission lines or a substation, it is advisable to have a dedicated team in place from the outset to investigate issues pertaining to it.
  • Prioritization of preventive maintenance: Self-performers with flexible in-house staff are expected to follow this approach given that project sites are considered controlled environment and no external staff is allowed. Limiting external contractors helps operators to protect their personnel and maintain scheduled maintenance business as usual.
  • Harnessing technology in O&M management: The O&M of a project is no longer an afterthought but one of the prime considerations for the project developer, as it has a direct bearing on the competitiveness and the efficiency of the project. Solar power companies should move from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance by employing artificial-intelligence-based tools; this will make plant management more efficient, more productive, and more cost-effective.
  • Automation and Innovation: Automation can play a role in reducing operational costs in such a labor-intensive industry. Monitoring and control systems are becoming increasingly open and connected, and professional asset management software solutions are gradually replacing manual processes. Current digital technology has benefits that could help asset owners during these challenging times, limiting potential reductions on plant’s availability and overall performance.
It is possible that business priorities might be revised in the post-Covid-19 era, but the need for improved execution and O&M will still hold good. It is time to set newer business targets and use technology optimally to achieve those goals.  

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