Since 2008, various national subsidy schemes supported and then did not the development of the nascent photovoltaic sectors in Europe. Photon Energy is one of the few companies to have navigated through these troubled waters from its home (the Czech Republic), to Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Romania, to Hungary, at present. Three representatives of Photon Energy powered the Energy Breakfast Club dedicated to business optimization in the photovoltaic industry, this April, in Bucharest.
Georg Hotar, one of the founders and CEO of Photon Energy presented on overview of the Romanian PV market, based on his extensive knowledge of the sector in Europe and Australia. “Being aware of the specific situation on the Romanian PV market mainly due to the dysfunctional green certificate scheme and the resulting dramatic shortfall in PV plant revenues and therefore limited O&M budgets, we believe that our expertise can help PV plant owners optimize their asset performance”. He then presented some of the options for “making the best out of a challenging situation”.
Control Room with state-of-the-art plant monitoring operating 365 days per year increases plant uptime through fast corrective maintenance. Jan Cerny, Sales Representative with Photon Energy detailed on the levels of monitoring. Data is acquired from inverters, zone monitoring and string monitoring, based on sensors, through PLC to reach the software platform for aggregation and generation of visual and sheet reports. “We are also able to do retrofit. If you have normal inverters we can upgrade them for the string monitoring, with wired or wireless version, which means there is no digging needed”, said Jan Cerny.
He also presented the operator’s workflow in the Photon Energy Monitoring platform – PECOM. “We are looking at the monitoring system and we detect a fault – first thing is to create a ticket, to contact the owner, the local distribution, and the internet provider in order to get as much information available. Then, our technicians are contacted by ticketing and by phone call as well, and they go to the field plant to get fixed what is needed. They will double check with the operator by phone, are when everything is solved, we are closing the ticket and we contact the owner for announcing the job is done.”
At turn, Lauru Bădiță, Country Manager O&M Romania, explained that, at the moment, the dispatch and control teams are located in Prague, and there are some technical teams available in Romania for field interventions. When the volume of business in Romania will make it feasible, there is open the possibility for opening a control room in Romania.
Lauru Bădiță also presented the Inverter Cardio solution from Photon Energy, as an industry-leading preventive & corrective maintenance of central inverters. This allows the company to run a repair shop for virtually all brands of string inverters, based on the website www.fixmyinverters.com, launched in 2017. Up to now, the repair shop repaired over 4000 string inverters, said Lauru Bădiță. “This is a cost-effective option to repair inverters cheaper than original manufacturers, and also a time effective approach, as we typically fix and ship string inverters in a matter of days”, he said. “This also allows for our clients to keep costs under control, as they will get an upfront repair cost estimate; we also provide procurement of replacement modules & inverters with warranty claim handling when possible”. Inverter Cardio proved to be a valid solution especially for older, out of warranty inverters, to various brands, Lauru Bădiță concluded.
From 2018 Q3, plant performance forecast services for the Romanian market will be available in order to reduce balancing costs. Jan Cerny explained that forecasting is done based on the mathematical model which combines satellites meteorological data with local ground meteorological stations and results are compared with technical set up of the specific power plant. “Real-time monitoring of performance ratio (PR) is warranty for accurate forecasting, as PR influenced by local faults of PV plant inverters and others”, he said.
“There is no investment protection in the EU”, Georg Hotar bluntly stated, based on his extensive experience in many European countries. “As investors worldwide today face the threat of unpredictable and shortsighted governments attacking their assets for their own political gains, Photon Energy has developed effective platforms and tools for investors who want to effectively protect their assets, as well as current and future investments”, he promised. “If you invest based on a support scheme of any kind, if have to rationally expect they can switch you off the very next day”, Georg Hotar said. The most effective investment protection is restructuring the business under a foreign holding company in the most optimal jurisdiction, which at present is Switzerland, as it is outside EU, and there are bilateral investment treaties enforced that will not be affected by the changes in national support schemes in the targeted countries.
Photon Energy is also available to support in generation of ancillary revenues by mining SolarCoins (www.solarcoin.org). “I am not suggesting to mine bitcoins – that is something I find very strange -, but a small amount of revenues can be generated through SolarCoins”, said Georg Hotar.
Photon Energy delivers O&M solutions and services to more than 217 MWp of power plants worldwide. From full O&M solutions to specialized maintenance services or independent audits and reports, the company offers as a reliable O&M service partner. The power plants managed by Photon Energy’s O&M division run with an average uptime of more than 99%, keeping downtime to a minimum and maximizing the NPV of its partners’ projects. Also, Photon Energy is also one of the leading providers of services for PV central inverters of various brands, such as Satcon or Siemens.