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
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
- 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.