Developments in the O&M sector: Interviews with Stern Energy and greentech

There is only one week to go until our annual O&M and Asset Management Conference: a highlight of the O&M calendar which is not to be missed. In the meantime, we caught up with two event sponsors, Stern Energy and greentech, to hear their thoughts on 2018 developments in the sector and our upcoming event:

Stern Energy

We met with Alfredo Beggi, Head of Sales and Asset Management from Stern Energy, one of Europe’s leading O&M and commercial management specialists. Here is what we found out:

  1. Stern are among the leading supporters of the O&M Best Practice Guidelines. Going forward, what do you think the value of the Guidelines will be for the industry?

We joined the task force since the second edition of the guidelines in 2017 and from our involvement we have put efforts in order to contribute with our experience to the development of this tool for the industry. In fact, we believe that this guide is a useful tool for the O&M sector to better fine tune its positioning within the PV industry value chain, helping asset owners and technical service providers to liaise more effectively under a common understating of their respective roles.

Enhancing plant performances should always be the final outcome and the main objective of both actors and the guide helps to understand and construct a virtuous relationship between the parties. In addition, we believe this guide will help even more those minor operators that are looking to better operate their plants and that sometimes lack of practices, procedure and contracts check lists that could be used to increase professionality in the management of their plants.  In fact, the PV sector Europe-wide is made also of smaller PV plants and smaller investors that sometimes have not the structured approach that is needed in order to manage plants at the highest standards that could be delivered by professional and structured O&M service providers.

  1. This has been a big year for Stern, with some major acquisitions. Looking back, what stands out as the most significant accomplishment?

Stern is growing very fast. In the last two and half years we grew from a pure Italian based operator with around 150 MWp PV plants under management into a professional Independent Technical Service Provider, focused only on PV, with over 450 MWp under management in Italy and the UK. Maybe the main accomplishment for 2018 is our new UK branch, founded in April 2017, that in less than 2 years grew to 185 MWp and 25 plants under management. This is a really big accomplishment and paves the way for Stern’s future growth with the target to open other branches in selected EU countries, in order to become a truly international O&M service provider.

Besides this, we also followed up with a strong growth in our organization now counting over 40 professionals with a high know how in the PV industry. However, the red line has been and will be, to keep acting as a highly specialized boutique where the highest standard of the service delivery and our clients’ satisfaction should always stand as our main targets.

  1. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s O&M and Asset Management Conference?

The O&M and Asset Management Conference in London always proved to be an important meeting point where the major players of the EU PV industry come, join and exchange high level thoughts. On top of being a very important appointment because the new guidelines will be presented, it is also a moment to meet already known operators to understand and share their future plans. Clearly it is also a chance to set the basis for some new possible future cooperation. Stern is always happy and committed to take part and contribute to the success of this Conference.

 

greentech

We’ve asked a couple of questions to Jörn Carstensen, Managing Director of greentech UK, a global service provider specialising in the management of photovoltaic plants. Here is what we found out:

  1. We’ve heard a few examples of situations where replacing older and inefficient modules can be profitable, but much less about inverter replacement. Why do you think that’s the case?

Within the photovoltaics industry we see that module repowering is far more popular than inverter repowering. Replacing old or degraded modules with new and more efficient module-types dominates the discussion within the PV-market. The focus is gradually shifting towards a more diverse perspective on repowering photovoltaic plants including inverters. At greentech, we promote this diverse repowering approach because there are always numerous perspectives to be examined to find the optimal service solution for the customer. Inverter repowering is definitely more complex than module repowering as there are several options and interfaces, such as DC-, AC-, and communication integration, to be considered. This increases the scope of more work during the engineering and implementation stage – but the projects we have done so far proved to be worth the effort.

  1. What sets greentech’s inverter repowering offering apart from the competition?

Besides our practical expertise in O&M and technical advisory for photovoltaic plants, greentech developed a comprehensive approach – the greentech Repowering Tool – to evaluate repowering concepts technically as well as economically. By assessing the interdependencies of the relevant parameters, we set a profound basis for our customers to make the right decision about the individual re-investment case. Our customers appreciate that we are not only focusing on the technical solution but also taking the overall economics into consideration. In the end, a PV system is a financial investment and this needs to be reflected.

  1. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s O&M and Asset Management Conference?

As the UK is one of greentech’s core markets, we are highly interested in the exchange about latest O&M trends with other experts within the industry. This year’s O&M and Asset Management Conference is accompanied by SolarPower Europe’s publication of the new O&M Best Practice Guidelines (Version 3), in which greentech took over the responsibility for the completely new chapter about repowering. This will also be a major step towards more standardisation and high quality of services within the O&M sector. As the PV fleet in the UK is getting older and warranties expire, we see a growing demand for revamping and repowering and look forward to discussing this with the other participants.

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