Ron Corio, the CEO and founder of Array Technologies says that developers in the U.S. solar tracker market responsible for selecting equipment are placing a greater focus on O&M costs, as competition among manufacturers increases.
Speaking at the early December PV Operations & Maintenance USA conference in San Francisco, Corio reckons that “tracker O&M can be huge, but many developers just throw in some lump sum to represent expected O&M costs.” He adds, “There is no estimated cost of ownership assigned by tracker manufacturers today. There is no rating agency that performs that analysis.”
“There are scientific methods for calculating O&M costs,” Corio says. “We’ve been doing failure mode analysis since we began, 27 years ago, and we assign frequency detection severity, as well as remediation duration, or lifetime,” he says.
“We have 6 GW, or about 60 square miles of trackers on the ground now, and when an issue arises, we proactively go fix it,” Corio says. “If there is one mistake, then there are likely 1,000 repetitions of that mistake; quality control, simplicity and elegance of design is what sets us apart from the competition,” he claims.
“If you dig deep enough, you can plug these O&M numbers into the LCOE model and work out the net present value, as well,” says Corio. The company also offers five or ten year warranties, with upgrades optionally.
One growing U.S. market segment in which O&M costs may prove to be very important is the commercial and industrial market, Corio reckons. “C&I is growing and trackers will take an increasing market share going forward,” he says.
Array also is augmenting its non-U.S. marketing and sales force, with teams stepping up in the MidEast, Australia, South America, and Mexico in particular, Corio notes.