PART 5: The Energy company of the future: Use case - installation of photovoltaic powerplant

PART 5: The Energy company of the future: Use case - installation of photovoltaic powerplant

4 min read

Installation of photovoltaic powerplant

Traditional ESCO contracts are for 15+ years. During this period, the installed equipment and all the work invested must pay for itself through the power generated. Therefore, it is in the contractor‘s interest to install high-quality equipment and follow good engineering practices. Any poor opera-tion and subsequent fault recovery will be the contractor‘s cost and not the client‘s, as in a conven-tional implementation. Therefore, it is crucial to pay particular attention to quality control during the construction phase, especially if subcontractors are involved.


Regardless of the quality control during construction, there may be hidden faults in the system that become apparent during commissioning and the first year of operation, which is the most critical period for ESCO projects. The test operation verifies both the technical soundness and the actual ability to achieve savings.


Energy management process simplified 

For this purpose, we must set up control charts that allow us to monitor the operational parame-ters in real-time. In addition to the critical process indicators, we also need to define an action plan in case of noncompliance. In this way, employees have clear instructions on how to rectify faults as soon as possible, thereby increasing the project‘s profitability and reducing the losses in a poorly functioning system. Therefore, all ESCO projects are based on a PDCA cycle of continuous improvement throughout the whole contract period.

Operation & maintenance

The first operation and maintenance phase starts in the first year of test operation, although this is still considered the Design & Installation phase for ESCO projects. During the operation and maintenance phase, we carry out performance monitoring in addition to the regular operating activities. If we detect anomalies, actions are required to correct the irregularities as soon as possible.

Performance monitoring

Without good data, it is not possible to monitor the efficiency of the energy process. However, data alone does not provide valuable information, so a systematic approach to setting up meas-urements is needed. Before setup, a checklist and a measurement plan should be prepared, defining the measurement site, the measurement principle, the design of the meter, the accuracy level, the recording interval, the data storage and the person responsible for setting up and control-ling/maintaining the measurement. The measurement plan allows us to quickly check the meas-urements‘ consistency, re-establish the measurements in case of malfunctions, and interpret the results correctly.


Measurement plan of a digital representation of the real world.

In addition to the process data, we need to capture data on external factors such as the quality of the input materials, operating parameters, production and weather conditions for the same time interval. External factors may be beyond our control, but we must certainly consider them in the analyses.


Performance monitoring process flow

When implementing control charts, we must remember that they are tools that can identify specific causes of variability, if used routinely and carefully. However, it is the commitment of management and technicians that is important to eliminate the causes. We need to establish a system of accountable employees and powers, which is the basis for the effective implementation of the corrective measures set out in the action plan in the event of a loss of control of the process. 

When dealing with specific causes, it is essential to find the root of the problem and try to eliminate or control it. We need to involve technicians and engineers in the statistical process and control process if we do not know the reason. Cosmetic fixes do not give us permanent results. We must propose actions for all identified weaknesses. To determine the logical sequence of their implementation, we can classify activities according to their cost and the time needed to implement them.

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About the Author

Matej Fröhlich Novkovič

Product manager for Utility and Energy solutions