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.

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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.

For more information please visit: Intersolar India

Prepared for Intersolar India by Madhavan Nampoothiri, RESolve Energy Consultants

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