Mastering Renewable Energy Asset Management for Cleaner Projects
Learn how effective renewable energy asset management can drive cleaner projects and reduce emissions.
Published:
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Mastering Renewable Energy Asset Management for Cleaner Projects
Learn how effective renewable energy asset management can drive cleaner projects and reduce emissions.
Published:
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Mastering Renewable Energy Asset Management for Cleaner Projects
Learn how effective renewable energy asset management can drive cleaner projects and reduce emissions.
Published:
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Renewable energy asset management: what you need to know

Renewable energy asset management is crucial for ensuring efficiency, longevity, and profitability. 

Renewable asset management involves a multifaceted approach that considers the life expectancy of renewable assets, their importance for long-term investment, and the diverse range of services involved. 

Outsourcing asset management tasks in the renewable energy sector offers numerous benefits, including flexibility, allowing organisations to tap into specialised expertise without the burden of in-house management. 

This allows for a tailored and cost-effective approach, allowing organisations to focus on their core competencies. Support and consulting services are integral components of renewable energy asset management, offering strategic insights to optimise performance and navigate the complexities of the renewable energy landscape. 

These services include technical studies, performance analysis, and supply contract optimisation, aiming to enhance plant performance and maximise the useful life of assets. 

By embracing effective asset management practices, stakeholders can ensure their renewable energy investments’ longevity, profitability, and sustainability.

What is asset management for renewable energy?

Renewable energy projects require specialised attention due to complex financial and regulatory landscapes. 

Commercial asset management provides tax compliance, financial reporting, financing structuring, regulatory compliance, and stakeholder records maintenance, while technical asset management oversees operations and maintenance.

Commercial asset management

Renewable energy projects, given their complex financial and regulatory landscape, require specialised attention for sustained success. 

The commercial asset management department plays a pivotal role in ensuring the seamless functioning of these projects. 

Here is a breakdown of the key components:

Comprehensive services

The commercial asset management team provides a spectrum of services crucial for financial health. Tax compliance is a significant aspect of navigating the intricate tax regulations associated with renewable energy projects. 

Financial reporting is a cornerstone service, offering transparent insights into the project’s economic health. 

Managing structured financing

Structured financing is a common practice in renewable energy projects, and the commercial asset management team excels in managing these intricacies. 

This involves optimising the capital structure, managing debt and equity, and ensuring the financial stability of the project.

Regulatory compliance

Navigating the evolving regulatory landscape is a daunting task. The commercial asset management team diligently tracks regulatory changes, ensuring the project adheres to all stipulations. 

This includes managing permits, licenses, and other regulatory requirements.

Shareholder and board records

Maintaining transparent communication with stakeholders is paramount. The team keeps meticulous records of shareholder and board interactions, fostering trust and ensuring compliance with corporate governance standards.

Benefits of outsourcing

Outsourcing commercial asset management to a specialised team brings several advantages. It allows project owners to focus on their core competencies while ensuring that experts handle financial and regulatory aspects. 

This approach enhances efficiency, reduces the risk of errors, and provides a holistic view of the project’s financial landscape.

Technical asset management

Technical Asset Management is the backbone of renewable energy projects, ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of assets. Here is an in-depth exploration of the key responsibilities and tasks involved: 

Key responsibilities and tasks

Operation and Maintenance Oversight

Technical asset management involves meticulous oversight of the day-to-day operation and maintenance of renewable assets. This includes monitoring equipment performance, ensuring timely maintenance, and optimising operational efficiency.

Regulatory and Contractual Compliance

Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and contractual obligations is a critical aspect. The team manages permits and licenses, guaranteeing that the project operates within the parameters set by authorities and contractual agreements.

Performance Deviation Diagnosis

Diagnosing and addressing deviations in asset performance is imperative for sustained efficiency. Technical asset managers employ advanced monitoring systems to identify performance issues promptly and implement corrective measures.

Preventive and Corrective Maintenance

A proactive approach to maintenance is adopted, encompassing both preventive and corrective measures. 

Preventive maintenance schedules are rigorously followed to mitigate the risk of unexpected breakdowns, while corrective maintenance swiftly addresses any identified issues.

Relationship with the local environment

The direct relationship with the plant’s local environment is a key consideration. Technical asset managers ensure that the project aligns with environmental regulations and minimises its ecological footprint. This involves managing waste, noise, and other environmental factors.

Supervision of surveillance company

Outsourcing surveillance to specialised companies is common in the renewable energy sector. 

Technical asset managers supervise the work performed by these surveillance companies, ensuring that the monitoring and reporting are aligned with project objectives.

Coordination with external technical advisors

External technical advisors play a pivotal role in project success. Technical asset managers coordinate activities with these advisors, leveraging their expertise to optimise operations, implement efficiency measures, and address technical challenges.

Handling insurance claims

In the unfortunate event of damage or disruptions, technical asset managers take the lead in handling insurance claims. This involves comprehensive documentation of incidents, coordination with insurers, and ensuring a smooth claims process.

Benefits of asset management

Asset management is crucial for improving renewable energy projects’ financial performance by 

  • Identifying efficiency gaps
  • Implementing targeted measures
  • Reducing costs
  • Reducing risk
  • Focusing on technical and availability performance using secure cloud-based operations and internal controls.

Increased profitability and lower costs

Asset management plays a pivotal role in enhancing the financial performance of renewable energy projects. 

Here is an exploration of how effective asset management contributes to increased profitability and lower operating costs:

Performance optimisation

Asset management is instrumental in optimising the performance of renewable assets. Rigorous monitoring and analysis of operational data enables the identification of efficiency gaps and opportunities for improvement. 

By implementing targeted measures, asset managers enhance the overall performance, leading to increased energy output and, subsequently, higher profitability.

Low operating costs

Detailed oversight of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) execution is a hallmark of effective asset management. 

By ensuring that O&M activities are executed efficiently and in line with industry best practices, asset managers contribute to reducing operating costs. 

Automation through software-enabled project management

Automation is a key driver of efficiency in asset management. Leveraging software-enabled project management systems, asset managers automate various day-to-day tasks. 

This includes scheduling maintenance activities, monitoring performance metrics, and generating reports. 

Automation not only reduces the workload on operational teams but also enhances the accuracy and timeliness of key processes.

Reduced risk during operations

The operational phase of renewable energy projects has its challenges. Effective asset management plays a crucial role in mitigating risks and ensuring continuity. 

Here is an in-depth look at how asset management contributes to risk reduction during operations:

Secured cloud-based operations

Cloud-based operations and data storage offer a secure and resilient framework for managing renewable energy assets. By leveraging cloud technologies, asset managers ensure the accessibility and integrity of critical project data. 

Internal controls for auditability

Asset management involves establishing robust internal controls that contribute to auditability. This is particularly crucial for regulatory compliance and financial reporting. 

Internal controls provide a systematic approach to documentation, ensuring that every aspect of operations is traceable and verifiable. 

Centralised architecture for portability

The centralised architecture of software platforms used in asset management enhances portability during various project transactions and sales. 

Whether transitioning ownership or integrating with different systems, a centralised approach streamlines the process. 

Increased efficiency

Efficiency is a core focus of asset management in the renewable energy sector. 

Let us delve into the ways asset management enhances efficiency, from identifying critical assets to boosting technical performance:

Identifying critical assets and defining risks

Asset management involves a comprehensive assessment of all components within a renewable energy project. 

By identifying critical assets and understanding their significance in the overall system, asset managers can prioritise maintenance efforts and allocate resources effectively. 

Implementing feasible improvement options

Continuous improvement is a key tenet of asset management. By regularly monitoring performance metrics and analysing operational data, asset managers can identify areas for enhancement. 

Implementing feasible improvement options may include adopting innovative technologies, optimising maintenance schedules, or fine-tuning operational parameters. 

Concentrating on technical and availability performance

Technical performance and availability are critical factors in the efficiency of renewable energy assets. 

Asset management concentrates on optimising technical performance by addressing issues such as equipment reliability, system monitoring, and preventive maintenance. 

What to consider when improving asset management

Enhancing current asset management practices involves strategic considerations across key areas for optimal performance. Here is a concise exploration of vital factors and challenges:

Key areas of focus

  • Asset reliability and availability: Improving asset management begins with a focus on maximising the reliability and availability of critical components. This involves adopting preventive maintenance strategies, leveraging predictive analytics, and ensuring quick response times to minimise downtime.
  • Operational cost management: Efficient asset management requires a keen eye on operational costs. By optimising maintenance schedules, streamlining workflows, and embracing cost-effective technologies, organisations can manage operational expenses effectively.
  • Decision support: Informed decision-making is crucial for effective asset management. Implementing advanced decision support systems that leverage data analytics and real-time insights empowers teams to make timely and strategic decisions, contributing to overall operational excellence.
  • Risk management: Robust risk management strategies are essential to mitigate potential threats to asset performance. Identifying and assessing risks, implementing preventive measures, and having contingency plans in place enhance the resilience of the asset management framework.

Types of asset management

Monitoring: enhancing renewable asset performance

Renewable energy assets, such as wind turbines and solar panels, demand continuous oversight to ensure optimal performance and minimal downtime. 

The monitoring system, a critical asset management component, integrates various elements to achieve this goal as shown in Figure 1.

24/7 monitoring

Constant surveillance is maintained to track the real-time performance of renewable assets. This ensures that any deviations from expected behavior are promptly identified and addressed.

GPS tracking

Incorporating GPS technology allows for precise location tracking of each asset. This feature aids in efficient maintenance planning and enhances overall operational control.

Condition monitoring

The health of renewable assets is closely monitored through condition monitoring. This involves tracking factors such as temperature, vibration, and other relevant parameters to identify potential issues.

Handling potential faults

In the dynamic environment of renewable energy, potential faults are inevitable. A robust monitoring system is equipped to manage these situations effectively. 

Clear protocols for activating Emergency Rescue Plans are established. These plans outline the steps to be taken for critical faults, ensuring a swift and coordinated response. 

Factors analysed during shutdown

When renewable assets experience shutdown or downtime, key factors are analysed to understand the root causes and plan for improvements. 

Any deviations from expected performance metrics are thoroughly examined. This includes analyzing power output variations, equipment malfunctions, or environmental factors affecting asset efficiency. 

A diagram of a solar monitoring network
Figure 1: Enhancing solar system performance. (Source: Blue Solar Solution)

Data analysis: optimising renewable energy performance

In the dynamic landscape of renewable energy, harnessing the power of data is crucial for maximising efficiency, identifying issues, and ensuring the safety of both assets and personnel.

Issue identification and downtime prevention

Data analysis in the renewable energy sector involves scrutinising vast datasets generated by wind and solar farms. This process aims to identify patterns, anomalies, and potential issues that could lead to downtime.

Utilising analytics tools

The importance of analytics tools cannot be overstated. These tools play a pivotal role in transforming raw data into actionable insights. They provide:

  • A comprehensive view of wind and solar farms’ performance metrics.
  • Offering a detailed analysis of power generation.
  • Equipment health.
  • Environmental factors that may impact efficiency.
  • Detailed Reports and Health and Safety Considerations

Accurate performance reports

Analytics tools contribute to generating accurate and detailed reports on the performance of renewable energy assets. 

These reports go beyond simple power output figures and delve into the intricacies of each asset’s health and functionality.

Health and safety (HSE) audits and compliance checks

Ensuring the safety of both personnel and equipment is paramount in the renewable energy industry. 

Data analysis is instrumental in conducting Health and Safety (HSE) audits and compliance checks. 

Asset managers can create a secure working environment by identifying potential risks and assessing adherence to safety protocols.

Compliance with Environmental Standards

In addition to HSE considerations, data analysis is instrumental in ensuring compliance with environmental standards. 

Monitoring environmental impacts, such as noise levels or wildlife interactions, allows for proactive measures to mitigate any adverse effects.

Reporting

Reporting is a cornerstone of effective renewable asset management, providing stakeholders with vital insights into portfolio performance, financial health, and technical aspects. 

Types of reports

Portfolio Performance Reports

These reports offer a holistic view of how the entire renewable energy portfolio is performing. 

Metrics include energy production, downtime analysis, and efficiency metrics. Graphical representations aid in visualising trends and patterns.

Financial Reporting

Financial reports focus on the economic aspects of renewable assets. They encompass revenue generation, operational costs, return on investment (ROI), and cash flow. 

These reports provide a financial snapshot, allowing stakeholders to gauge the economic viability of the renewable energy portfolio.

Technical Reports

Technical reports delve into the operational details of renewable assets. They cover equipment health, maintenance activities, and any deviations from optimal performance. Technical reports are essential for understanding the intricacies of asset functionality.

Customisation options for enhanced insights

Reports can be customised based on the audience. Executives may require a high-level overview, while technical teams might need in-depth technical reports. 

Asset managers can tailor the frequency of reports to meet specific needs. Critical stakeholders may prefer more frequent updates, while others may find monthly or quarterly reports sufficient. 

Customisation includes the incorporation of KPIs that align with the strategic objectives of the renewable energy portfolio. 

Site inspections in renewable asset management: ensuring operational integrity

Site inspections play a pivotal role in maintaining the operational integrity of renewable energy assets. It requires:

Maintenance checks

Thorough site inspections involve a meticulous examination of all renewable energy infrastructure. This includes wind turbines, solar panels, support structures, and associated electrical systems. 

Identifying HSE risks

Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) risks are a crucial focus during site inspections. Inspectors assess potential hazards, ensuring compliance with safety protocols. 

This includes evaluating equipment accessibility, emergency response preparedness, and adherence to safety guidelines.

Reporting non-conformities

In the event of identifying non-conformities or deviations from established standards or procedures, a robust reporting mechanism is essential.

Clear documentation of non-conformities enables prompt corrective action, preventing potential disruptions or safety hazards.

Thorough inspections feed into preventive maintenance planning. Identifying potential issues early allows for strategic scheduling of maintenance activities, reducing downtime and optimising operational efficiency. 

Regular site inspections contribute to ongoing regulatory compliance. By staying ahead of compliance requirements, renewable energy operators mitigate the risk of penalties and ensure adherence to environmental standards. Most importantly, site inspections assure safety. 

Turbine inspections for wind assets

Turbine inspections are critical components of wind asset management, focusing on maintaining the health and efficiency of wind turbines. Here is a breakdown of the key steps involved:

Key steps in turbine inspections

  • Visual Turbine Inspections
  • Blade Inspections
  • Gearbox Analysis

A thorough technical report follows inspections. This report covers visual inspection, blade, and gearbox results. It provides a complete turbine status report. 

Effective client communication is crucial. Rapidly disseminated technical reports outline concerns and offer actions. 

Transparent communication keeps clients informed about their wind assets. Different types of inspection techniques for wind turbines are shown in Figure 2.

Wind turbine inspection types
Figure 2: Types of wind turbine inspection (Source: heliguy)

Issue resolution with O&M provider

If issues are identified during inspections, a systematic process is followed to document and categorise them. 

This includes determining the issues’ severity and potential impact on turbine performance. Issues are raised with the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) provider responsible for the wind assets. 

Open communication is essential for a collaborative approach to issue resolution. 

High voltage (HV) systems in renewable energy: monitoring and ensuring reliability

High Voltage (HV) systems play a crucial role in the renewable energy landscape, ensuring the efficient electricity transmission from renewable sources. 

A smart grid network is another example of advanced monitoring of high voltage systems in renewable energy, as shown in Figure 3. 

Here is an exploration of the importance of monitoring and assessing HV systems:

Ensuring Proper Functioning

High-voltage components, including protection systems, circuit breakers, and transformers, are essential for the smooth operation of renewable energy facilities. Monitoring these components is critical to ensuring their proper functioning.

Identifying Potential Issues

Continuous monitoring allows for the early detection of anomalies or issues in HV systems. This proactive approach helps prevent potential failures that could lead to downtime or damage to equipment.

Assessing HV systems: procedures and reports

Implementation of monitoring procedures

Establishing robust procedures for monitoring HV systems is fundamental. This involves using advanced sensors, data loggers, and monitoring software to track the performance of protection mechanisms, circuit breakers, and transformers.

Comprehensive assessment

Regular assessments involve a thorough examination of HV systems. This includes evaluating protective device condition, checking for wear or overheating signs, and assessing the system’s overall integrity.

Transparent reporting

A key aspect of HV systems management is transparent reporting. A comprehensive report detailing the findings of assessments is submitted to the client. This report includes insights into the current state of HV components, any identified issues, and recommendations for corrective actions.

Ensuring transparency and accountability

Effective communication with the client is essential. The comprehensive report is shared promptly, providing clients with a clear understanding of the status of their HV systems. HV systems require meticulous maintenance to address identified issues promptly. 

Collaborating with skilled technicians and maintenance teams ensures that necessary repairs or replacements are conducted, maintaining the reliability of the high-voltage infrastructure. 

diagram of high-voltage infrastructure
Figure 3: Monitoring of high-voltage infrastructure in Smart-Grid (Source: Ferrandez et al, 2019)

Managing the balance of plant (BOP) in renewable energy

The Balance of Plant (BOP) is a critical aspect that demands strategic management for the smooth operation of the entire facility. Here is an exploration of the importance of BOP management and the various tasks involved:

Ensuring smooth operations

The BOP, encompassing all components excluding turbines and solar panels, plays a pivotal role in maintaining the seamless functioning of a renewable energy plant. Effective management is essential for sustained operations.

Holistic project management

BOP management involves comprehensive project oversight. This includes coordinating various tasks, ensuring timely execution, and aligning activities to meet project timelines and objectives.

Tasks in BOP management

Project Management

Strategic project management is fundamental to BOP success. It involves planning, organising, and overseeing all BOP-related activities, ensuring that each component functions cohesively within the larger renewable energy project.

Ground Condition Surveys

Understanding the ground conditions is crucial for BOP management. Surveys assess the terrain, soil composition, and environmental factors, providing insights for effective foundation design and construction.

Electrical Component Maintenance

Apart from turbines and solar panels, the BOP includes various electrical components like switchgear, transformers, and grid interconnection infrastructure. Regular maintenance of these components ensures their reliability and performance.

Key elements in the bop

Substation infrastructure

The substation forms a critical part of the BOP, facilitating the transformation and distribution of energy to the grid. Efficient management of substation components is vital for grid connectivity.

Access roads and security installations

BOP management extends to access roads for maintenance and security installations to safeguard the entire facility. A well-managed infrastructure enhances operational efficiency and security.

Environmental mitigation measures

BOP management incorporates measures to mitigate environmental impacts. This includes erosion control, water management, and other eco-friendly practices aligned with sustainability goals.

Installation maintenance strategies

Scheduled inspections of BOP installations are essential for identifying wear, damage, or potential issues. 

Utilising predictive maintenance technologies enhances BOP management. Predictive analytics and monitoring systems can anticipate potential failures, allowing for preventive actions and optimising maintenance schedules.

The importance of renewable energy asset management

Renewable energy asset management is a complex field that involves understanding the life expectancy of assets and strategic outsourcing for flexibility. 

It offers benefits such as greater profitability, reduced risk, and increased efficiency. 

Key focus areas include reliability, operational cost management, risk mitigation, and decision support. The profession also involves high-stakes turbine inspections, monitoring, and plant management. 

Renewable energy asset management is more than just monitoring; it represents a comprehensive strategy for durability, dependability, and sustainability. A proactive approach is crucial for a more resilient and environmentally friendly energy future.

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Author

Muhammad Mahad Malik
Muhammad is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical power engineering. His research interests include smart grids, power systems, RES, and computational coding in energy systems.

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