Solar Power World: Solar plant owners and investors face a daunting task calibrating all the levers of solar asset ownership

3megawatt was very excited to participate in an article published in Solar Power World on the 23th of June titled "Solar O&M Tools for the Solar Investor", written by Glenna Wiseman.

As the leading solar asset management platform provider for operational solar assets, we were very pleased to share our insights. 

Question: What are the critical operations and maintenance problems or challenges faced by distributed generation (DG) commercial and industrial solar investors now?

The challenges include lack of standards, methodology and transparency and ambiguity of division of responsibilities.

Question: How do these challenges differ regionally in the primary solar markets?

The challenges are very similar in regional markets. Access issues are more of a challenge in the U.S. for schools (need for fingerprinting personnel) and in Europe for building integrated PV and barns.

In Europe many EPCs have assumed the O&M function to be able to guarantee performance. Not all EPCs have the right business model in place to be able to do long term O&M on a cost effective basis. In the U.S., O&M is typically done by a specialized O&M company. As a pure play, this means that these companies are typically set up better to perform O&M. This means that investors in European solar assets may need to start thinking on how they would approach switching O&M providers, if needed.

In the U.S., average system sizes are smaller than in Europe. This means that in Europe is more economical to set up a larger footprint in a geographic area. Also, the concentration of DG assets by geographic area is higher in Europe, which makes truck rolls more cost effective. This means that in the U.S. investors may need to work with multiple regional O&M players, whereas in Europe they can work with a few large country specific O&M players. If an investor needs to work with multiple O&M players, it is important to enforce standardization as much as possible to facilitate the portfolio overview.

What challenges do your solar O&M tools or offerings solve for the solar asset investor? 

3megawatt’s BluePoint solar asset management platform helps solar investors to standardize reporting amongst their O&M providers. BluePoint will also put in place a common methodology for O&M providers for certain tasks like claim and warranty processing. Investors will gain more insight into the timing of preventative and corrective maintenance. The service history that is built up in BluePoint over the lifetime of the asset will make it easier for investors to switch O&M service providers, if necessary.

How do you see solar O&M tools shaping future solar investment and portfolio management?

As the solar asset class is now attracting more professional equity, new investors will expect the same level of professionalism and diligence as they are used to in other asset classes. This means that they will increasingly demand professional tools that will help mitigate risk and improve performance of their investments.

You can find the full article on Solar Power World. Solar Power World Editors Frank Andorka, Kathie Zipp and Steven Bushong interview the industry's hottest newsmakers and allow them to tell their stories. 

Glenna Wiseman is a contributor to Solar Power World and founding partner of Identity3. Her expertise includes work with companies along the solar supply chain from manufacturers to installers, financing entities to solar O&M providers.