Solar asset management ensures long-term energy infrastructure reliability

By Raja Soi, VP of asset management at Soltage

As the solar industry grows and new projects abound, it is increasingly important to optimize existing solar assets, not only to maximize financial opportunity, but also to ensure long-term energy infrastructure reliability.

The challenge is, physical asset management is different from traditional asset management in that it requires caring for both the financial and operational aspects of the assets. Unlike traditional asset management, physical asset management requires the technical knowledge to know when equipment is not performing optimally and is thus reducing revenue. Solar asset management specifically comes with a bonus challenge: successfully navigating complex and nuanced solar incentives to optimize revenue.

Well-managed solar assets result in more energy and dollars.

Successful solar asset management starts with the proper oversight of operations and maintenance. Asset managers detect when systems are underproducing and can quickly and accurately diagnose an under-performing array. All too often, owners rely on performance guarantees rather than actively monitoring their systems. But prioritizing active monitoring can result in a significant increase in production. Failure to proactively oversee the health of a system results in a significant amount of lost capital for array owners as well as less clean, renewable energy on the grid.

Accurately capturing system production is another crucial step in optimizing assets. Meter malfunctions, inadequately auditing utility statements and miscalculating PPA rates can all lead to lost revenue. By shadow billing, or systematically producing internal invoices to compare to utility checks, asset managers can cross-check that utility meter readings match owner meters and help detect anything from a blown fuse to miscalculated rates.

Finally, and most uniquely to renewables, managing renewable energy credits (RECs), planning for solar tax incentives and fully optimizing PPA rates, especially when tied to net metering credits, is crucial for successful solar asset management. With tax incentives and PPAs varying by state and utility, it’s necessary to fully understand and proactively plan around solar rebates and incentive registration deadlines in order to capitalize on financial opportunities.

Successful solar asset managers should be regularly checking that sunlight is maximized, equipment is healthy, utility statements match what’s in the agreement and incentives are secured. With so many moving and multifaceted factors to manage, it’s fair to askhow?

Successful solar asset management takes an experienced team armed with the right tools.

At Soltage, we develop, finance and operate utility-scale solar and solar+storage project portfolios, delivering affordable renewable energy to commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers across the U.S. In total, our team operates and manages over 250 MW of distributed generating capacity. This is made possible by our 12 years of solar industry expertise, ability to successfully foresee and navigate potential hurdles and our tenured asset management strategy which includes key partnerships with leading solar asset management software companies.

PowerHub’s asset management platform gives our experts the tools to easily view and select data through PowerHub’s custom-built solution. This simplifies the busywork, making it easy to create insightful and actionable financial reports, perform real-time monitoring to support our work, foreseeing operation and maintenance needs and streamline invoicing and record-keeping.

We also partner with AlsoEnergy, an end-to-end distributed energy monitoring, management and control platform. This tool helps our team easily detect and take action on low-performing solar arrays. Using customized tools from AlsoEnergy and PowerHub, we’ve streamlined our internal processes to better optimize our assets, both physically and financially, and ensure renewable energy stability and profitability.

And it has paid off. We’ve increased the number of assets under management by almost 60% and the number of megawatts under management by nearly 130% through the use of cost-effective, scalable and cloud-based strategies. With solar booming and more investors looking to place capital in low-risk renewable energy projects, diligent solar asset management is necessary for propelling the industry forward.

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