O&M Services: Extending the Useful life of Solar Plants through Value Added Services

Ranked fourth for utility-scale solar O&M providers in the US by managed capacity, Cypress Creek O&M Services offers best in class business solutions for owned and third-party assets across 19 states. Our four-pronged approach consists of 24/7/365 Operations & Engineering, Account Management Services, Special Projects, and Field Services and Predictive Maintenance. 

In this post, Cypress Creek O&M Services’ Sr. Director of Projects Todd Rouse describes our approach to value added services as a part of our Special Projects Group. Todd has over 25 years of professional electrical engineering management experience in utility substation and controls along with 5 years of experience in solar energy engineering and management.

As the solar industry matures, operation of solar facilities becomes more structured and solar asset owners are looking to get the most value from their fleet. At the same time, rapid growth along with maturing plants has introduced the need to address root causes of key issues at both the beginning and end of a solar facility’s life cycle. 

The Special Projects Group within Cypress Creek O&M Services conducts root cause analyses and corrective action plans to investigate plant underperformance and systemic plant issues. The seven-person team includes 50 plus years of utility and renewable engineering experience. 

Infancy Cycle (Burn-in period) 
During the transition from construction to O&M, both installation and early component failures lead to increased attention to new plants. Cypress Creek has been successful in establishing taskforces to address the root cause of component failures and/or design issues, reducing the burn-in period and the severity of the failure rates. The taskforce works with vendors as well as manages warranty claims. Recently our team has worked with inverter and transformer manufacturers to evaluate the root cause analysis of high transformer gassing through testing, site operating records and transformer teardown. The lessons learned are used to address future plant designs through updates to specifications, approved vendor lists and contract warranties. 

Production Cycle (Useful life period) 
During the production cycle, the operations engineering team identifies repeating systemic component failures along with the resiliency of the plant and grid to weather related failures. The taskforce uses operational, financial and technical knowledge to identify the root cause of the issues and establish corrective actions. Addressing the root cause through these corrective actions returns the failure rate back to a sustainable level. The root cause analysis may also identify systems approaching the end of life cycle and signal the need to begin plans addressing upgrades to the plant. For example, our Special Project Group is working with an inverter manufacturer to improve inverter controls extending the life of the inverter and addressing the value of extending the manufacturer’s warranty. Keeping failure rates low during the production cycle increases the plant availability and production. 

End of Life Cycle (Wear-out period) 
The end of life cycle cannot totally be avoided; new plant upgrades will be required. The first step is to be prepared and identify the appropriate time financially to address a plant upgrade or warranty extension by evaluating the risk and benefits of performance and availability which provides time to budget for these corrective actions. The Special Projects Group, with assistance from a taskforce of both internal and external engineering, construction and financial resources evaluates the appropriate time and upgrade designs. The group provides re-powering services for module and inverter replacements. For larger projects, our team oversees third-party engineering services to meet the needs of the plant and the owners. 

The Special Projects Group wishes the thank our clients, both new and old, for growing with us and having the confidence in our team to provide value added services for your fleet thus extending its production life and our relationship. To speak directly with a member of Cypress Creek's O&M Services team, please send us a message.