Installers are aware about this situation: the PV plant has been installed with an integrated PV monitoring system. And now the question arises, who will look after the reports and error notifications in the future?
Binsdorf/Geislingen, Germany, August 22, 2017 - In some cases, the customers take care of monitoring their PV plants themselves - and according to the monitoring feedback, this might end up in a lot of workload. In such cases, problems can easily slip by undetected, leading to high yield losses. Another option is that the installers enter into a service contract with their customers to monitor and service the PV plants. Such service contracts normally benefit both parties. The customer can sit back and relax since a PV professional is taking care of everything and is always available, if a problem occurs. Monitoring and service agreements offer installers the option to establish and expand their customer base as well.
Every service, of course, involves a certain amount of time that is agreed upon by the installers. In practice, this means analyzing incoming error notifications and the possible causes, e.g. detecting a string failure and fixing the problem.
When monitoring a small number of plants, this is not a major problem. However, as the number of plants increases, so does the amount of time resources. Daily monitoring and error reports in particular require a considerable amount of time. Solare Datensysteme GmbH, for example, offers this support with the "Solar-Log™ WEB-4U" service. The technical expert team from the monitoring system manufacturer takes care of the PV monitoring directly, if requested. In this process, all incoming error notifications are analyzed, evaluated and proactively reported to the installers.
Reiner Stauss, General Manager of ezee Energy GmbH, a specialist wholesaler for renewable energies, describes how installers use this service on a day-to-day basis and how they benefit from it:
To what extent do you use the monitoring service?
We monitor about 1000 PV plants in total and use Solar-Log™ WEB-4U to monitor about 350 of them.
What are the advantages from your point of view?
Our service team is often on site with the customer. And because of this, we have a limited capacity to monitor plants from the office. Subcontracting some of the monitoring tasks allows us to utilize our resources more effectively and to save time.
How would you rate your experience so far in regard to subcontracting PV monitoring?
We had, for example, the case that an inverter was overheated. This apparently small malfunction can quickly lead to severe yield losses for the customer. We immediately received the notification from our contact person at Solare Datensysteme that the inverter was about to overheat. Our team reacted by contacting the customer and solved the problem. In this case, the fan was defective and had to be replaced. Thanks to fast communication between our service provider, the customer and us, yield losses could have been avoided.
In another case, the configuration check that is carried out as standard was rather helpful. Numbers were mixed up during the initial configuration of the plant data in the portal. This mix-up was immediately detected and fixed with the check performed by the Solar-Log™ WEB-4U team. We received the information about the error and that it had been corrected. As a result, we did not have to waste any time with troubleshooting.