Californian-heaquartered microinverter specialists Enphase has taken a giant stride into the operations and maintenance (O&M) sector with the acquisition this week of Next Phase Solar, a Berkeley, California-based provider of O&M services for the U.S. solar PV industry.
The acquisition sees Enphase add 400 MW of O&M assets to its portfolio, and builds upon last years roll-out of Enphase Energy Services (EES), which is part of the companys commercial solution that manages fleets of installations.
The move is seen as an acknowledgement of the long-term nature of solar investment, with Enphase now claiming to have a larger team of service experts, trucks, and O&M capabilities than its rivals.
"By providing customers with proactive O&M services, EES is enabling customers to focus on their core business of financing and installing solar systems," said Enphase CEO and president Paul Nahi. "The acquisition of Next Phase Solar strengthens EES comprehensive capability to proactively and cost-effectively operate and maintain residential, commercial and utility-scale PV power plants within the U.S., regardless of manufacturer or brand."
The Next Phase Solar portfolio consists of both residential and commercial projects, and Enphase VP Marty Rogers remarked that the interesting part of the O&M sector is only just beginning. "This is a repeatable business and it will be interesting moving forward since the market is really based on both the increase and age of installations," he said.
"We dont see anyone else grabbing this market sector, so we decided it was a great move for us to go after it."
In July last year, Enphase entered the O&M market amid great fanfare as a partner in a $100 million deal with crowdfunding startup Mosaic. The combined loan and O&M package has been designed to lower the upfront costs and increase the value to customers of a typical home PV system, with Enphase lending its data monitoring expertise to the deal via its module-level power electronics technology.
A recent report by GTM Research looking at the future of the global solar O&M market suggested the sector would surpass 88 GW by the end of 2014, and will triple that figure by 2018 with China, the U.S. and Japan leading the way as their legacy solar PV installations mature.
The February edition of pv magazine puts solar O&M at its core, featuring a series of articles looking at the opportunities and challenges inherent to this growing space in the solar industry. The issue is out now.