MILAN, 19 September 2013 - Italy boasts nearly 20,000 PV plants each with a capacity of 100 kWp or higher, with 5 GW of O&M contracts coming opening up this year and another 2 GW in 2014. Many plant owners and asset managers face important decisions relating to investing in the right O&M services in order to preserve and increase the financial returns of the PV plants.

“PV plant owners need to understand if the services provided by an O&M provider are matching their needs, which means they also have to be able to recognize which kind of problem the plant has: in this way they will have the chance to minimize O&M costs” – states Pierre D’Amours, Executive Vice President of Solar Forensics.

Field data has demonstrated that professional O&M can result in a 5% increase in performance ratio of photovoltaic power plants. Even for small plants, this can lead up to thousands of euros of extra revenue each year. Thus, investing in the right O&M services is not just a basic need but also a route to substantial financial rewards.

“The main challenges in high quality O&M services” D’Amours continues, “are related to the Value Proposition an O&M provider can give in terms, above all, of warranty for services and products, availability and response time when there is a problem, and experience across all levels. On the other hand, asset managers and plant owners need to understand that whilst it is relatively easy to build and commission a PV plant, the true test is the ability to keep the plant operating at peak performance to assure optimal production and optimal revenue generation. “

Understanding the specific needs and possibilities of O&M is quite complex. Every PV plant is different and every situation demands specific solutions and services. In addition, the expertise in O&M services varies amongst different providers, many companies only having recently started to provide this service.

“Italy currently represents a huge potential market for companies that provide O&M related services” explains Federico Frattini, Vice Director of Energy and Stategy Group - and this is the reason why many Italian installers and System Integrators are more and more repositioning their business model to provide Operation and Maintenance Services of existing plants. As a matter of fact, we are talking of a market producing a yearly turnover of around 533 million Euros: O&M is therefore for many companies an added activity up to ensure an adequate level of profitability, which can no longer be guaranteed solely by installation only”.

Mr. D’Amours is just one of the experts speaking at the Solar Operations & Maintenance conference organized by Solarplaza on 9 October in Milano. At this event, questions around demand and supply of O&M services will be discussed in order to understand better the needs, issues and opportunities related to maximizing financial returns of PV plants through optimized O&M.