An integrated approach combined with cutting-edge technology from global renewables experts RES has transformed the productivity and reliability of a 100MW solar portfolio by 12%.
RES was appointed as asset manager of eight UK-based solar farms in August 2014 and recognised that performance was being severely hampered by poor underlying asset quality. Once appointed, RES designed and led an extensive programme of rectification works to address underlying quality issues.
In 2016 RES’ service provision for the portfolio was expanded to include operations and maintenance (O&M), leading to significant improvements in plant performance. By implementing a long-term value improvement plan for the portfolio, RES was able to increase the financial return to the asset owners by optimising reliability and performance. RES used its new Reliability Operations Integrity (ROI) tool as part of its value enhanced asset management and O&M approach, which mitigates plant reliability issues by systematically assessing and mitigating risks.
Darren Cook, Head of Asset Management at RES, said: “By taking this approach to improve the quality and output of the assets, we have delivered sustained improvement with a very strong performance in 2018. Under our management – combining asset management and O&M, the assets are optimised to deliver the best return possible and hopefully exceed their target yield in 2019.
“Having more than 37 years’ experience in renewables means we’re able to leverage our expertise from across the globe to create specialised tools that can address common issues efficiently and deliver maximum value for clients.”
The ROI tool undertakes a component-by-component assessment to measure the criticality of its function, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) and what its current prevention controls and failure detectability is – delivering a significant and sustained improvement in plant availability
This then allows RES to allocate a quantified “Lifetime Failure Risk (LFR)” to each piece of equipment, thereby ensuring present risks can be prioritised and mitigated. Mitigation steps typically involve contingency planning for repairs, proactive purchasing of replacement parts, enhanced monitoring and inspection or upgrading of components.
RES also developed a new String Energy Maximisation (SEM) tool to improve the asset yield further. By focussing on string performance rather than just availability, the SEM tool uses advanced data analytics to monitor and analyse the performance of all solar panel strings across the site. The O&M team is then able to identify under-performing strings and investigate individual faults that could be impacting on yield. Implementation of the SEM tool into routine O&M operations has seen RES improve individual sites in excess of 1%.
The results of the works programme saw success in 2018 as for the first time asset performance exceeded expectations. Since then, RES has continued to reverse the negative performance trends of the assets and ensured they are in a strong position to deliver maximum value over their remaining lifetimes by boosting availability to 99%+.
RES’ expertise in increasing renewables efficiencies extends beyond solar. In March, RES announced that its managed onshore wind farms are 1% more efficient than the industry standard. An independent study by DNV GL found that the company’s asset management approach and capabilities in the UK, France and Ireland have resulted in higher availability figure. The 1% improvement equates to £1m in additional revenue to clients over the project lifetime.
RES manages more than 1.3GW of solar across the globe and its UK solar support services portfolio recently increased to 229MW following the acquisition of REG Power Management.