Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

Cost efficacy in a difficult time

Words: Steven Hughes, Global Asset Management Director for RES

Standardisation is needed in our industry to keep costs down and avoid discrepancies. Asset management and O&M can help save costs and counteract inefficiencies.

April 2016 was a momentous month for solar energy in the UK. For the first time ever, more power was generated by the sun than by coal. Just less than 30 gigawatt hours, or the equivalent of 4% of national demand was met by solar. This was certainly yet another tremendous achievement set by renewables over the past year. Let’s not forget, in December, wind turbines supplied 17% of Britain’s electricity demand, while clean power has provided almost a quarter of UK electricity in the first three months of this year .

News like this should normally be celebrated, as the UK takes tentative steps towards
a clean energy revolution. However, such a celebration is simply not possible, with renewable energy having taken immeasurable blows over the last few years and solar arguably taking the biggest hits of all.

According to DECC, 9.2 GW of solar capacity has been installed in the UK, enough to power 2.2 million homes, with 3.6 GW installed last year. What’s more, 49% of the total EU investment in solar photovoltaics was made in the UK, highlighting the importance of the industry to the economy.

However, this explosion of solar power has come at a price – the rush to build projects has reduced project build quality and the changes in support have reduced supply chain options available to service and maintain projects. The solar industry is not alone however in suffering these pressures. Today wind projects have a similar support mechanism cut off. In the early years of wind deployment there were a number of equipment providers who were unable to maintain their equipment after it was installed, so asset managers needed to develop flexible strategies to manage these assets and maintain asset value.

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