OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE – THE KEY SUCCESS FACTOR FOR A SOLAR PV POWER PLANT

The solar PV plants in India are entering a phase of maturity. The total installations will exceed 2 GW by the end of the year, and about half of them would have completed more than 1 year of operations by that time. As the plant becomes older, Operation and Maintenance (O&M) becomes more and more important for improving the performance of the plant.

In this article, some of the important aspects of O&M are highlighted. A few challenges related to them and some solutions are suggested.

Types of Maintenance
Like in any power plant, a solar PV plant requires the following types of maintenance

  • Preventive Maintenance (PM) which includes routine inspection and servicing of equipment which help prevent breakdowns and reduce energy yield losses.  PM is usually a scheduled activity.
  • Corrective Maintenance(CM) or breakdown Maintenance(BM)  includes repair of broken down equipment and is usually reactive.
  • Condition-Based Monitoring(CBM)involves monitoring of equipment condition and plant operations on a real-time basis and addresses a potential problem at a very early stage to prevent downtime. This requires a robust plant performance monitoring system.


O&M focus areas

A solar PV power plant has several components and each of the sub-system requires different O&M skillsets. A few of the sub-systems and their O&M requirements are mentioned below.

Module
While the PV module does not have any moving parts, the yield from the module is highly dependent on the cleaning of the panels. In the dusty environments of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the cleaning frequency has to be quite high.

Electrical sub-systems
Inverter is the most complicated component of the PV plant and can be called the heart of the system. Since Inverters are predominantly electronics devices, they need to be taken very high care due to the extreme hot, humid and dusty conditions of India. World over, the system downtime is very closely correlated to the inverter downtimes. In fact, in a study conducted in 2010 by US based Electric Power Research Institute, the number of breakdowns is the highest by inverters.

From the above graph, it can be noticed that most of the energy losses happen due to the AC Sub-systems. Apart from this, it is also important to periodically check the wiring(using visual inspection and if possible, using infrared scanners). In India, rodents are known to cause damages to the underground cables and it is important to monitor this regularly. Earthing protection also needs to be checked often.

Civil and Structural sub-systems
One of the tasks of the O&M personnel will be make sure that the growth of shrubs and other vegetation are fully in control. If not, they will grow very tall and will cause shadowing effect on the panels. Snakes and other poisonous reptiles might make these shrubs their home and can cause safety hazard to the workers.

The other problems relate to the mounting structures. In some cases, bending of the structures can happen due to the improper design. If left unaddressed, the bending can damage the modules.
Similarly, during rainy season, it has been observed that the top soil gets washed away due to improper drainage system. Caving of the foundation and the structures caused by improper compaction of the ground has also been observed.  A pro-active O&M team can address this by visual inspection and take preventive action especially before rains.

Communication
Most of the solar power plants are located in remote places with unreliable communication infrastructure. Most of the remote monitoring systems need an internet connection and in the absence of a reliable connection, there could be problems of lack of data logging for long periods of time. This makes it very difficult to diagnose and rectify problems in a timely manner.

Warranty Management
The O&M personnel should have a very clear understanding of the warranty terms from the suppliers.  They also need to know the type of defects or problems that are covered under warranty, the duration of the warranty and also the key personnel from the supplier with whom warranty claims can be taken up and enforced in a timely manner.

Spare Parts Inventory Management
The inventory management is critical because this could increase or decrease the cost of the O&M as well as the working capital requirement. It is also essential for the timely completion of the different types of maintenance. The O&M personnel should know very clearly the list of the spare parts available, their quantity at the site warehouse and the lead times for delivery of spare parts from the suppliers.

OTHER CHALLENGES

In our experience in India so far, we have come across some of the problems which are very severe.

  • O&M budget – Typically, the O&M budgets are very limited for various reasons.
  • Availability of water – Dust accumulation in India is very high and requires frequent cleaning. However, most of the plants are located in arid regions with very little availability of water.
  • Skilled manpower – Since the O&M involves people who have the skills in electrical and electronics engineering, it is a challenging task to get people to move to such remote locations to work.
  • Local labour – In many places, it is mandated that local villagers need to be employed for O&M. While this is a noble objective and also is important for the economic development of local communities, in some cases the locals form unions and demand wages that make the O&M cost to go very high.
  • Theft – Theft of materials (even PV panels) is rampant in some parts of the country. This can be prevented by having a good security system and a good inventory management system.
  • Documentation – In many plants, there is no robust remote monitoring system. Instead they have a basic SCADA system which provides real-time information, but does not log the events, alarms and other maintenance issues. In such cases, there is very little documentation which can help the O&M personnel to identify, diagnose and trace the problems.


CONCLUSION

The importance of O&M is often overlooked by many developers. Considering the fact that the plant has to generate returns over a period of 25 years, a good O&M contractor, a good monitoring system and above all, a very good O&M process is very critical for the success of the plant.

Article Source: http://bit.ly/2ddJsjC

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Mob: +91 9971170911 ,+91 9910733911

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India tops 8.6 GW of solar, ratifies Paris agreement

India’s clean energy progress takes a couple more tangible steps as the country surpasses 8.6 GW of solar PV capacity installed and gives its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement.

India has a long way to go to meet its solar goals, but direction and pipelines are both promising.

New analysis by Mercom Capital Group has revealed that India’s cumulative solar capacity has reached 8,643 MW as of September, with the analysts forecasting the country to end 2016 having installed 4.8 GW of new capacity.

The calendar year up to now has seen India add 3.8 GW of new solar, Mercom says, with some 500 MW added in the month since the last Mercom report. By region, there are now four India states that have more than 1 GW of capacity installed – Tamil Nadu (which accounts for 19% of all Indian solar capacity), Rajasthan (15%), Gujarat (13%) and Andhra Pradesh (12%).

These four states comprise 59% of India’s installed solar base, Mercom says.

Charged with reaching 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022, such progress, though welcome, needs to be expedited. India’s solar pipeline stands at 21 GW, of which 14 GW comprises solar – mostly PV – projects at advanced stages of development, with the remainder up for auction soon.

The chief challenges facing solar’s growth remain a decline in power demand a the availability of cheap power on the exchanges – power that cash-strapped Discoms turn to in favor of solar.

“The challenge is going to come next year when approximately 9 GW of solar power is forecast to be installed. Unless the ‘must run’ status for solar projects is strictly enforced we are going to see some challenges,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

India introduced its “Must Run” rules for solar in the hope of ensuring the technology received preferential treatment when it came to grid access. Thus far, this policy has been loosely enforced, with economics trumping environmental concerns.

All this could be set to change, however, following India’s ratification of the Paris Agreement struck last year at COP21.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet waited until Sunday, October 2, to coincide the ratification of the agreement with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Indian officials confirmed that the nation’s aim is to be a global leader in the deployment of solar and wind power, but stressed that the country requires further financial aid to reach its lofty goals.

According to Manish Bapna, the executive vice president of the World Resource Institute, India requires more than $2.5 trillion to meet its renewable energy target of 175 GW installed by 2022. To raise this figure, foreign investment is going to be key, said Bapna.

In recent weeks, the majority of the world’s largest emitters of global greenhouse gases – including China, the U.S. and the EU – have ratified the Paris Greement, which pledges to reduce emissions in order to limit global temperature rises to below 2C by 2050.

 

Article Source: http://bit.ly/2dpf1tt

 

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Mob: +91 9971170911 ,+91 9910733911

 

 

 

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The Cost of Solar Power Has Fallen 25% in Only 5 Months

The cost of building solar power has plummeted 25% in five months, according to low construction bids on solar projects in China ($0.46/W for 500 MW of solar power) and Dubai ($0.023/kWh for 1.2 GW of solar power).

Several factors have driven these relatively inexpensive bids. In China, solar power is incentivized and in Abu Dhabi, solar panels produce more power than usual because the city enjoys some of the best sunlight exposure in the world.

Credits: NINA

Decreasing hardware prices have fueled the drastic drop: solar panel costs, for instance, have declined since the first quarter of this year.

Other areas have shown similar price falls. In Nevada, a 100MW solar project would deliver electricity at $0.04/kWh. Chile and India are also experiencing similar efficiency.

Technology for developing renewable sources of energy gets better through time. And while it does, the cost of an energy efficient world becomes more and more affordable.

 

Article Source: http://bit.ly/2cUVnVL

 

ADLER Solar is a leading solar company dealing in solar products and providing complete solar energy solutions. You’ve come to the right place – give us a call!
Mob: +91 9971170911 ,+91 9910733911

 

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Time To Side With Solar Energy

Prices of solar energy have fallen such that it is challenging coal to be a more viable energy source.

According to a report by the consulting agency KPMG, the solar prices have come down by 15%.

It is important to note that not long ago, solar energy was considered to be expensive and not investment-friendly. It has taken India a long time to realise that going forward, solar energy is going to be of utmost importance if it were to realise the goals of renewable energy.

Recently, Union Energy Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the Central government will provide Rs 1,800 crore to IIT-Mumbai for supporting the Solar Urja Lamp (Soul) programme.

The prices of solar energy have fallen to an extent that it is now challenging coal to be a much more viable source of energy. If solar remains cheaper than coal, India should actually consider making the former as the prime source of energy generation. This would further India’s commitment towards renewable source of energy generation and will prove to be a reliable source for 250 million people who have no access to electricity.

The World Bank recently approved funding worth $1 billion for power projects in India. In order to provide the funding, the World Bank has tied up with the State Bank of India. This comes following the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making power available to all citizens.

This is the biggest solar aid ever to be lent to any country. The main purpose of the funding is to start rooftop solar projects which will make power accessible even in the most remote villages.

The capacity targeted thro-ugh this rooftop project is 400 megawatts (MW). The World Bank has also signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The alliance was spearheaded by India and France during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in 2015. The aim of the alliance was to mobilise investment in order to set up infrastructure for solar energy generation.

The target is to channelise around $1 trillion-worth of investment by 2030. In the 2015-16 budget, a sum of Rs 2,700 crore (between $400 and $500 million) was allocated for energy generation through solar energy. As of May 2016, solar energy capacity in India was 7,568 MW and the target set for 2022 is 100 gigawatts (GW), that is 1,00,000 MW.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to restrict the global increase in the temperature to below 2 degree Celsius. This deal is a result of consistent effort by the international community to have an international agreement on climate change. Article 2 of the Paris Agreement clearly states that it aims at “making global finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse-gas emissions and climate resilient development.”

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), in the last three years, the renewable energy sector has received over $14 billion worth of investment. Of this, the solar energy sector has got around $4.5 billion.

Coal-based power

Even after signing the Paris Agreement, India has aimed to double the energy production from coal by 2020. As against this, recently, Maharashtra showed a positive sign towards  clean energy as it turned to solar power in order to provide energy to farmers at subsidised rates. Goyal has been an advocate of supporting clean energy, provided it is funded by the developed countries.

India’s main aim has been to ensure that there is a balance between guaranteeing efficient clean energy generation as well as development goals. On the basis of current resources, it is ambitious.

A major part of investment has been allocated through the Budget. The 2016 Budget approved generation of around 14 GW of solar energy. India has pledged that it will be generating around 40% of its energy through renewable sources by 2030.

In 2010, the government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The objective of the Mission had been to make India a leader among the international community in the field of solar energy.

The Mission had set up a target of 20 GW of solar power by 2022. This particular target was later increased to 100 GW in the 2015 Union Budget. One of the most important things to keep in mind while setting targets is that in 2014, the world’s installed solar energy capacity was 181 GW.

According to the World Health Organisation, 22 of the 50 urban areas with worst ambient air pollution are in India. Balancing the growth as well as climate change commitments is a priority. The solar energy generation projects are bound to contribute to new employment opportunities and lead India’s march towards its globally set targets.

In 2005, the government-funded generation was about 6 MW. India is making big strides towards renewable energy generation and as a result, a lot of villages will be able to use electricity for the first time.

Article Source: http://bit.ly/2dHyjsg