With the total addressable market for solar PV expected to reach 30 GW by March 2019, operations and maintenance (O&M) of these assets is emerging as a key opportunity for a number of players. These assets include projects in the ground-mounted, rooftop, canal-top and solar-wind hybrid spaces.
First, it has given rise to a new generation of players specialised in providing O&M services. This is a very fragmented set of players and mostly comprises start-ups. Currently, this third-party O&M segment has six to eight companies, each managing a portfolio of 100-200 MW. There is, however, one player that provides third-party O&M services to over 2 GW of projects. Portfolio sizes are set to increase with solar power developers facing higher cost pressures and the EPC warranty periods of more projects come to an end.
Moreover, as project developers expand their assets across various locations, it will become increasingly more difficult to manage them. This will especially be the case for rooftop players as they have to manage a much larger number of small-sized plants. These project owners will eventually prefer outsourcing their O&M needs and focus on developing their project pipeline.
Second, a new opportunity awaits companies in the digitalisation space. Automated products based on artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics are being adopted for improving asset lifecycle management, predictive maintenance, remote sensoring and control, cloud computing, and the use of drones for visual imaging. A number of companies have started using robotics for cleaning modules. Moreover, a number of third-party O&M service providers are partnering with technology companies to design customised products and solutions suited to solar power projects.
Third, process and IT solution providers have found a key prospect in the solar power segment. In order to improve plant performance, O&M teams will need to undertake process and structural interventions along with the right IT tools.
Clearly, a new industry structure is emerging in the solar O&M space. However, third-party O&M specialists will continue to have a minority share in the overall O&M market, which will largely be dominated by big IPPs managing their solar assets in-house. As far as technology enthusiasts are concerned, they will have a major role to play in efficiency and performance improvements of solar plants going forward.
In the article “Changes at the Top” (Renewable Watch, November 2018), we have inadvertently carried a wrong photograph of Mr Mayank Bansal. The photograph carried is that of Mr Mayank Bansal, Director, Global Infrastructure Partners India LLP instead of Mr Mayank Bansal, President, Strategy and Operations, ReNew Power.
Mr Bansal, Director, Global Infrastructure Partners India LLP, has no relationship with ReNew Power, historical or current. We deeply regret the error and the inconvenience caused to him as well as to Mr Bansal from ReNew Power.