My own power Generation plant
The summer in this part of country is really hot and has this bright sunshine for most of the year. That's why one would see lot of Solar panels on the roof tops or even dedicated solar generation plants (though I don't see if there is any direct co-relation to the high temperatures out here to amount of electricity generated using solar panels). What is it that makes these installations popular these days? The federal government is promoting the use of Green energy and that's where the utilities have come up with the ways to use this opportunity for distributed energy generation. Traditionally utility customers owned and maintained the Solar Panels but various ownership and pricing models have emerged where in the Utility Company owns and maintains the solar equipment which is installed on the customer roof-tops. Some of the utilities have their own solar generation farms with vast number of solar panels spread across a large area. The pace with which the technology is emerging and the clean energy awareness is growing along with the federal government supporting it; day may not be far when every house is a distributed generation station for a utility.
So with these things, what are the new problems that these installations are bringing to the customers and the utilities? These solar installations are done by the vendors who have expertise in installing them on the customer roof tops. These installations are managed as a turnkey projects wherein the utilities get little information about the assets that were installed and how customer is going to maintain these assets against the benefits that he gets for installing these assets. Also there is no defined standardization for these solar assets and every installer would do it differently. With the new concept of utilities owning these assets, the standards are being set and utilities are taking advantage of the research and implementations done throughout the world.
With the solar installations getting very common in United States regulatory commissions would soon have some guidelines for maintaining them and also for reporting the solar generation (which I guess already they have to). This is the time when the utilities should start thinking about the maintaining these solar assets and define the strategy for their future maintenance and regulatory needs. Unlike the other traditional generation methods, this involves management of vast number of assets that are geographically scattered. The warranty and maintenance contracts for this huge number of assets should be handled using an appropriate work and asset management system. The solar technology is rapidly evolving and the manufacturers are providing long term warranty which is not forcing utilities to have a concrete maintenance policy but with time and complexity building up the utilities will eventually need to have a better control over it.
Utilities now have to view these solar assets as their regular generation assets and maintain them by defining the strategy for their optimum output. It's not just the case with the Solar but all the distributed generation technologies that are evolving over the years. Wind generation also needs similar asset management practices to get the maximum benefit out of it. This would also help the utilities to come up with the cost benefit of using these alternate methods of generation and lay down the future road map for its usage.