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Increasing use of software in solar power plant O&M

Notes by Narsi

In its earliest days, most application of digital for solar power plants was in the initial stages - design - and for the overall monitoring of the power plant - through SCADA and solar power plant monitoring solutions.

But zoom forward ten years, and you have a whole range of digital applications for the solar PV sector. 

The design and monitoring software still exist, and play as important a role as they played ten years back. In addition today, you have software for the complete asset management of the solar power plants over their lifetime, robotics and other digital solutions that automate O&M, drones that enable owners and maintenance engineers quickly identify problems, and more.

As more solar gets pumped into the grid and as storage becomes an integral part of most (even) utility scale solar power plants, expect many more digital solutions to penetrate the solar PV sector.

Not surprisingly, a number of these digital solutions have been pioneered by startups, some of the prominent ones being SenseHawk and Renkube. Globally, there are dozens - if not over a hundred - startups catering to this segment.

Typically, most of these software solutions will be able to provide yield enhancements in the 5-10% range. This might not sound like a lot, but if you consider that solar power plants are a 25 years investment and a 1 MW solar power plant can generate about 1.5 million units of electricity a year, even a 5% increase starts appearing quite appetizing to a project owner.

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