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Solar plant repairs to cost sector $16b as demand increases


Solar panels

Nothing less than $16 billion will be expended over the next six years on unplanned solar plant repairs, a new research from Wood Mackenzie said yesterday.

Indeed, yearly cost on solar plant operations and maintenance (O&M), which currently stands at around $4.5 billion will grow to just over $9 billion in 2024.

“This increase is due to future demand growth and current installed capacity. Unplanned repairs alone can cost owners up to $3,000/MW/year, based on an average-sized solar power system of 50MW,” the report said.

Though there was a modest decline in 2018, Wood Mackenzie noted that the global solar market would reach a new annual high of 114.5GW in 2019; growing by up 18 per cent from the previous year.


Yearly installations is expected to hover around 120-125 GW in the early 2020s as emerging markets begin to deliver results, the group stated, adding that global cumulative solar PV installations are expected to grow from ~500GWdc in 2018 to 1,243 GWdc by 2024.

Though Nigeria reportedly has immense opportunity for solar energy in the face of the country’s energy gap, countries like China, India and the US reportedly have more than 50 of global solar PV installations to 2024, making both Asia and North America the most attractive regions within the solar O&M segment.

Out of Nigeria’s population of about 180 million, only about 40 per cent of the citizens reportedly have access to electricity. Though the actual electricity demand in the country was estimated at 10 GW, available supply to consumers averages 4,000 Megawatts.

A report published by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), earlier this year showed that the growth of solar energy on the continent was primarily driven by five specific countries; Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Ghana.

Solar installations nearing inverter end of life will reach 21GW by the end of 2019, representing 3.4 per cent of the global market, Wood Mackenzie noted, stressing that the development will increase to more than 14 per cent of the total cumulative capacity over the following five years.

By 2024, Wood Mackenzie expects the solar industry to have 176GW of projects with inverters older than ten years.”

“Solar technology has greatly improved technician utilisation ratios over the last few years. Previously, one technician would be able to service 20MW of solar capacity. Global downward price pressures have driven the implementation of automated solutions and digital platforms, making it possible for technicians to service from 40MW-60MW of solar capacity – more than doubling their efficiency in some cases.

“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, Wood Mackenzie’s Principal Analyst, Leila Garcia said.

Solar plant management is often erroneously assumed to be simplistic when compared to other generation technologies, Wook Mackenzie said.


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