October 9 (Renewables Now) - In 2024 the annual operations and maintenance (O&M) costs in the solar sector will top USD 9 billion (EUR 8.2bn), up from roughly USD 4.5 billion in 2019, according to Wood Mackenzie.
The cumulative global photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity is projected to grow from around 500 GW direct current (DC) in 2018 to 1,234 GW DC in 2024. China, India and the US will be the top markets. The combination of significant new capacity additions and the age of current installed capacity will bring the increase in O&M costs.
Wood Mackenzie says that regular preventative maintenance and corrective repairs will bring 35% and 24%, respectively, of total O&M costs. Inverter replacement costs, typically accounting for 12% to 13% of the average O&M cost for a 50-MW solar farm, will approach USD 1.2 billion in 2024.
The market research firm also calculates that unplanned repairs could cost solar plant owners up to USD 3,000 per MW per year, based on an average-sized park of 50 MW.
Leila Garcia da Fonseca, Wood Mackenzie Principal Analyst, stressed that solar technology has greatly improved technician utilisation ratios. One technician could service 20 MW of solar capacity several years ago, but now that has risen to 40 MW-60 MW.
“As asset owners and operators continue to invest in advanced analytics and O&M specific software, and move from more time-consuming methods of spreadsheet-based analytics, operational costs will be reduced and higher data quality achieved," the analyst said. However, she noted that getting costly, advanced analytics platforms for older equipment does not make sense.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.91)