Podcast O&M Solar en España

19 may

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Bienvenidos a Solar O&M Insider, la primera serie de podcasts dedicada a Operación y Mantenimiento y asset Management del sector Solar. Esta serie la pone a su disposición Alectris, una compañía innovadora global de gestión de activos solares. La serie está presentada por

Glenna Wiseman de Identity3.

Este episodio es: O&M Solar en España. Hablamos con Salvador Andreu, Managing Partner de Optimal Sun.

En este podcast, Salvador explica los cambios en el mercado fotovoltaico español y su impacto en la operación, mantenimiento y gestión de activos fotovoltaicos. Incluye:

  • Implicaciones de los cambios de propiedad de las plantas fotovoltaicas en la Operación y Mantenimiento en España.
  • Gestión del balance entre productividad y durabilidad de las instalaciones fotovoltaicas.
  • Identificación de oportunidades en el mantenimiento preventivo
  • Costes O&M Solar en el mercado secundario español
  • Gestión remota de plantas solares ubicadas en las islas.

Queremos agradecer a Alectris esta valiosa introducción en la gestión y operación de plantas solares en España.

Transcripción completa (traducción al español)

Glenna: Bienvenidos a Solar O&M Insider, la serie de podcasts dedicada a operación, mantenimiento y asset management del sector solar. Esta serie se la proporciona Alectris, empresa innovadora líder mundial en gestión de activos solares. Soy Glenna Wiseman de Identity3, your coordinadora.

Hoy hablamos sobre el mercado fotovoltaico en España y las implicaciones para operación, mantenimiento y gestión de activos solares. Nuestro invitado es Salvador Andreu,  Managing Partner de Optimal Sun, con sede en Barcelona, España. Bienvenido al show, Salvador.

Salvador: Muchas gracias Glenna. Es un placer participar en Solar O&M Insider.

Glenna: Excelente. Salvador, ¿podrías hacernos una introducción de tu experiencia en la industria solar?

Salvador: Bien, estoy en la industria solar desde 2008. Empecé en este excitante mercado como Country Manager de Kioto Photovoltaics en España. Kioto es un fabricante de módulos fotovoltaicos austriaco dedicado también a la construcción de plantas fotovoltaicas.

Gestioné el desarrollo de 11 plantas fotovoltaicas en Italia y España con un total de 12 MW de potencia instalada.

En 2013, empecé como Managing Partner de ENcome Energy Performance en España. Durante este tiempo desarrollamos nuestro mercado, gestionando la operación y mantenimiento de un portafolio de 20 MW en 16 plantas fotovoltaicas. Además, desarrollamos Due Diligence Técnicas para algunos de nuestros clientes y coordinamos la construcción de 2 plantas fotovoltaicas en Rumanía, con una capacidad de 12 MW.

Optimal Sun y Alectris, Fuertes Partners del  Sector Solar en España

En Noviembre de 2015, fundé una nueva compañía con el nombre de Optimal Sun, que es Partner Oficial de Alectris en España. Nos dedicamos a la Operación y Mantenimiento de activos solares y servicios de consultoría relacionados.

Glenna: Excelente. Gracias por introducir a Alectris. ¿puedes explicarnos un poco acerca de la colaboración entre Alectris y Optimal Sun en España?

Salvador: Sí. Optimal Sun actúa como partner oficial de Alectris en España. Optimal Sun desarrolla el mercado español de O&M, implantando ACTIS en todos nuestros clientes con el soporte de Alectris.

Además Alectris y Optimal Sun trabajan muy estrechamente en actividades con clientes potenciales de ámbito internacional en términos de ventas, conceptos de servicio y procedimientos. Finalmente, los objetivos de ambas compañías están totalmente alineados. Queremos suministrar el mismo nivel de servicio a nuestros clientes independientemente del país en el que tengan sus activos.

Cambiando las estructuras de propiedad de las plantas fotovoltaicas en España.

Glenna: So for our listeners, let’s just clarify that ACTIS is the award-winning solar ERP system that Alectris has developed. And thank you, Salvador, for that explanation. Let’s dive right into what’s happening in the Spanish solar PV market. We understand that the market there is going through a pretty dramatic shift in how ownership of the PV parks is organized. Can you give us some background on this situation?

Salvador: Yes. This is a very specific thing in our market. The plants developed in 2007 and 2008 that represents 70 percent of the market in Spain were divided in 100 kilowatts each, in order to have a better tariff. That means that for a single plant of three megawatts, which, in every other country is a single plant with one owner, we have 30 companies involved, with 100 kilowatts each, with 30 counters, 30 inverters, etc.

This is a situation specific to our market that requires a lot of very hard work in terms of administration. For some of our customers, it is necessary to prepare tax declarations for 30 companies to manage 30 accounts.

Glenna: That sounds like a whole lot of work to me.

Salvador: Yes, I promise you.

Glenna: Tell us a little bit about how you handle solar O&M and asset management when you have, on average, 30 organizations owning three megawatts, and how that transition to one owner is going?

Salvador: Well, it’s a little complicated. Because, if we continue with this example of three megawatts and 30 organizations, we would need to generate 30 invoices each month for each three megawatt plant. This would involve splitting corrective interventions for common parts into 30 invoices, etc. It’s not something that is easy to manage.

We would also need to manage 30 bank accounts for each plant if we were doing the asset management. As you can imagine it’s not simple but we have to do it. Additionally, there are a lot of plants in Spain where each individual plant belongs to different owners. Or there is a customer that has six individual plants inside the 30 PV plants of the PV park. To summarize, we need the maximum flexibility in our organizational procedures in order to manage these Spanish PV assets.

ACTIS – Going Beyond Solar PV Monitoring

Glenna: Okay. So we talked about ACTIS a little bit ago. How does this solar enterprise resource planning tool, solar ERP, help with the level of detail that you’re having to deal with in this Spanish market?

Salvador: Well, for us, it’s a fantastic tool. ACTIS has a perfect platform to create that information hierarchy. We divide each plant into its minimum components and this allows us to structure our work well. We can organize our invoicing and our operational procedures according to the needs of each individual customer of the plant. The same thing applies to the monthly reporting. ACTIS is absolutely customizable. We can prepare our reporting and adapt it to each customer that has a PV plant. And then we can have different reports for the different owners inside the plant. This is very easy to do with ACTIS.

Glenna: Do you see other types of software in the market that allow you to do the same thing that you are doing with ACTIS?

Salvador: Well, there are other systems in the market but normally those are focused only on monitoring. ACTIS is focused on the operational part also. Everything we do in operations is transferred to the correct part of the monitoring. This helps us to be move quickly in any type of analysis, in any type of reporting, in everything. It’s a very good tool.

Glenna: So, really, the structure of the ownership — on average, 30 for each park moving to one — is really on the asset management side of it? Reporting the financial, that part of the software tool, correct?

Salvador: Yes, that’s it.

Managing the Balance Between Energy Productivity and Solar PV Plant Durability

Glenna: Correct. So then, on the operation side, you talked a little bit about the monitoring. What other kinds of operations and/or performance issues are you seeing in the Spanish market that you’re having to pay attention to? You and I spoke before, and we talked about durability versus highest generation possible. So tell us a little bit about what are your goals, in terms of the operation side?

Salvador: Yes. With the regulation change that was approved in 2014, under the Royal Decree 413, Spain became the first country in the world, I think, with a tariff that is not 100 percent related to production. Additionally, a cut in the tariff was introduced that could be anywhere between 12 and 35 percent, depending on the size and technology of the plant.

In this new concept, the government has defined that the tariff basically has three different points. The plant could receive a fixed amount because of the investment cost of the plant. It doesn’t matter how much the plant produces. If you produce more than the minimum required by the law that is fixed in this Royal Decree, and this is not a high quantity, the plant receives the same amount of money. This is a fixed amount and represents approximately 80 percent of turnover.

And then, we have a variable amount under operational cost concept. The perceives a variable amount rounding 10% of the total that comes from the production, up to a maximum limit of hours

Then you have the market price at which you are selling the energy, which is similar to the RID in Italy. That represents another 10 percent of the amount received.

Identifying Solar Preventive Maintenance Opportunities

Additionally, the regulation has extended the life of the plant from 25 to 30 years. As you can see, this changes the priorities of our customers. Now the priority is not to produce more. It is to produce while being careful with the plant, in order to have five years more of duration.

The increase in production affects only 20 percent of turnover. If I increase the production by five percent, this only increases the turnover of the plant by one percent.

And the customer begins to be more worried about the durability of the components, and not to have to invest there before it’s necessary. It’s for that reason that we need to find the best balance between productivity and durability. In this situation preventive maintenance is getting more important for PV plant management, in order to extend the life of the existing components. And this is where ACTIS is helping us a lot. It helps us analyze where the problems are, to find the causes, and to try to reduce the problems before they appear. I don’t know if it is understandable because our regulations are very particular.

Glenna: Well, that is something to wrap your head around. That it isn’t about necessarily the highest performance that can be generated out of the PV park. It’s about meeting that point at which you are reaping the most advantageous tariff level, for a longer span of life. Is that correct?

Salvador: This is correct. And we need to manage this with very accurate costs, in order to have a perfect balance.

Glenna: So you are doing the same types of monitoring, and incident monitoring, and making sure that the plant is watched on a 365-day level, as would happen in other parts of the world, correct?

Salvador: We are doing the same.

Glenna: Right. But the goal is to extend the life of the plant past the normal 25 years into 30 years and to keep the generation at an optimal range?

Salvador: Exactly. That’s it.

Glenna: Well, you certainly have an interesting job.

Salvador: It’s good because we are not only thinking in terms of corrective actions and how to solve the problems fast. This is a large part of our work. But we need to think a little more in-depth. What happened? Why did it happen? How we can avoid this happening again, in order to avoid the big problems later that could be more expensive and reduce the life of the equipment?

Glenna: And you’re looking at each type of incident very strategically in terms of how and when it is resolved?

Salvador: The customer has less interest in the problem being resolved quickly like most plants. This is not as important as it was before. Now the customer is more interested in lowering cost. This is very clear.

Glenna: So is there anything else that you want to mention about this move in the structure of ownership in Spain, and how it would affect solar O&M and asset management?

Salvador: Well, with the new regulation we have the opportunity to try to reduce this dramatic structure of having a lot of companies working in the PV plant. When we work with the sole owner of these 30 companies, we are now helping our customers merge these 30 companies into one. Now this is something that is possible. With the new regulation, the incentive to have 30 companies has disappeared. And it’s necessary to try to avoid costs. Reducing administration from 30 companies to only one is a big opportunity to reduce costs. This is another area that we are working on with our customers, optimizing the organizational structure.

Solar O&M Costs in the Spanish Secondary Market

Glenna: And it would seem that having all of that organized into the software, organized into one owner, would also help the secondary market. Let’s talk a little bit about the secondary market that’s emerging in Spain. Can you tell us about this trend? What’s happening with the secondary market there? And how does it affect solar O&M and asset management?

Salvador: Yes. In the last year we had a time where the market was at an absolute stand-still. Nobody wanted to speak about any asset in Spain. But now that the new regulation has stabilized, and all the players know how it works, it seems that there is interest in investing in solar assets in Spain again.

With the combination of this new regulation and the cut I was commenting about before — between 14 and 30 percent tariff reduction — there are a lot of individual owners and small companies that had invested in solar O&M in the past that are having difficulties for refinancing the projects. This is a good opportunity for big firms to purchase these assets.

Finally, obviously there is a lot of movement now. We know of several companies that are looking for projects in Spain, and they are purchasing projects. Every month, we know of several companies, several projects that are sold to different firms. And this is making up a bigger concentration of the market. That means that individual firms become the owners of big portfolios.

What influence does this have on O&M? It’s clear. If there are bigger portfolios, then there are bigger pressures in the negotiations of the O&M contracts. So we need to know all the costs we will have, in order to be competitive in this new market. For that reason, ACTIS is a very good tool for us. The combination of the monitoring and operational modules allows us to know where the costs are and how much we spend in each of our activities. And this will help us to be more competitive over time.

Glenna: And there’s two parts of this. There’s the seller’s preparation of his asset, in order to be sold. And then, there’s the due diligence that the buyer needs to have done, in order to ascertain whether the asset is worth acquiring. So you are working on both sides of that?

Salvador: Yes. We are also working on the due diligence concept with the buyer. And we are collaborating with some firms to evaluate the solar asset they want to purchase. Our assessment is not only based on the technical points. We also try to find out how much the new customer or the buyer needs to invest in order to put the plant into good operation. This information could help them with the final negotiations.

Glenna: So in other words, if a buyer has the additional information of exactly where the plants stand within that portfolio and exactly what’s needed in order for them to meet the optimal tariff remuneration or benefit, then you can provide them with those in-the-field, very detailed reports in order to give them a true view of what the site is doing, and what kinds of costs will be expected in the future?

Salvador: Exactly.

Managing Island Based Solar Plants Remotely
solar field

Glenna: All right. We understand that you have an island-based PV plant in Mallorca that’s coming online and that you’re using ACTIS there. Can you tell us a little bit about this project? Also, what do you see as the implications for PV plants in general, in Spain? And for island installations in particular?

Salvador: Yes. We are beginning our operations in a PV plant in Mallorca. This is a new contract for us. The plant has 3.1 megawatts and is a fixed-installation. And working in the islands is different than working in other places. There are several plants in the islands, but there are not a lot of specialized people close to the plants.

For us, it’s important to have a reference person very close to the plant, in order to have good service and quick reaction time. And then electrical contractors wholesalers are not specialized in PV. Then it is necessary to identify the minimum stock you have in the plant, in order to avoid delays in repairs. Logistics is very important in the islands.

Glenna: Okay, so that’s a really interesting point. You have the combination of that cloud-based point of view, that you can actually see what’s going on in the plant. But you have to be able to get manpower and parts, and determine what needs to happen, and have everything you need in order to make it happen. And it’s not just right down the street.

Salvador: Exactly. It’s different than working someplace that you can take the car and get there in two or three hours. To get there, you need to take a plane. And it’s not easy to send specialized engineers for a big problem at the plant.

Fortunately, in Barcelona, we have a very good site collaboration flight combinations with Mallorca. But obviously it is more expensive to operate there than to operate someplace that you can get to without flying.

ACTIS provides us a very good tool for analyzing all the details about the operations of the plant. And to schedule the maintenance in the islands you need to have a very good plan.

Glenna: Perfect. So the last point there was that, having that plan in place and the ability to execute on the plan is important. I really see that what you’re dealing with in terms of that island installation is also happening in the emerging solar markets where the solar industry needs to reach out. And I think that’s why Alectris has so many new global partners. The company can bring the expertise that’s been learned globally into a new market without that new market needing to generate that expertise in a more organic manner. So I think that’s really good insight into some of the logistics and planning of the on the ground issues that are related to island installs.

Well, Salvador, is there anything else that you would like to bring up, related to the Spanish PV market and O&M, that you think will be helpful to the listeners?

Salvador: Well, I think we have discussed most of the differences that we have in our country compared with other countries. No. I think we have touched on the most relevant points.

Glenna: Okay. Excellent. So can you share with our listeners how they can get in contact with you and your team at Optimal Sun?

Salvador: Yes. It’s very easy. They can reach us through our webpage at optimalsun.com. Or through our email at info@optimalsun.com. Or by telephone at +34-935-790-727. And if you go to the Alectris website, you can also find our contact information in the partners’ part of the website.

Glenna: Excellent. Well, it is absolutely fascinating and helpful to get insights into what’s happening with the Spanish solar PV market, and the trends related to solar operations, maintenance, and asset management. Thank you, Salvador Andreu from Optimal Sun.

The Solar O&M Insider podcast series is brought to you by Alectris, at alectris.com.

Salvador: Thank you very much, Glenna.

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