HOTO – A Holistic Process with a Large Impact on Solar PV Plant Revenue

Excerpt from a virtual panel in partnership with EQ Magazine

5 min read

The past decade has seen a significant evolution in the way asset management planning is conducted and encouraged. While an increasing number of asset owners and operators are now starting to recognize the need for a broader approach to asset management, many are struggling to make the transformation. Recently, EQ magazine, in an association with SenseHawk hosted a panel discussion on the topic “Digital Tools and Analytics for Efficiency in PV Operations.”  A few heavyweights of the solar industry were present, including:

  • Mr. Rahul Sankhe, President and Co-founder of SenseHawk
  • Dr. Negi from MNRE, 
  • Mr. Prashant Kumar Upadhyay, Manager BS from Solar Energy Corporation of India, 
  • Mr. C. Chaudhary, COO of Amp Solar, 
  • Mr. Kapil Kumar, Head O&M division from Azure Power, 
  • Mr. Dinesh, Head Asset Management from Sprng Energy, 
  • Mr. SK Madhusudhana, VP and Head O&M, SB Energy, 
  • Ma’am Shilpi Dangi, Senior Manager from Sembcorp Green Infra Limited, 
  • Mr. Brajesh Kumar Jha, DGM Distributed Solar Operation and Maintenance from ReNew power, 
  • Mr. Sudhir Pathak, Head Central Design and Engineering from Hero Future Energies, and
  • Mr. Premchand, General Manager at Tata Power Solar Limited.


Watch the excerpt

While all too often asset management has been approached from a purely technical perspective, Mr. Dinesh, during his time, takes an initiative to put a different spin to asset management. “I personally feel that asset management is a holistic approach. It’s not a transaction,” he begins. “The method of someone constructing and somebody else taking over is popularly known as HOTO. If you look at HOTO as a holistic process, then the involvement starts right from the day one, where the asset management team is considered as an internal customer. When we see the asset managers as the internal customers, then we call that the voice of customer, (VOC – known popularly) to be taking the center stage in asset management.” 

Project Learning is to be Documented

Mr. Dinesh further says, “To ultimately build a 200 or 400 megawatt, or even bigger plants, we invest a lot of time and money with the hope of getting positive or sustained returns, which eventually comes from megawatt hours during the asset management. In the project stage, you keep spending money to build something which is going to give you the returns for next 25 years, or even longer. For this, the asset management should start at the very beginning, in the sense; at least one asset manager must become responsible for the rest of the life of the project. He should be involved in the early stages of the project at the field level, which will give a valuable input in terms of technical things, because while a lot of learning happens in the project, unfortunately, it does not get systemized in terms of capturing. If a company which built 3-4 projects is asked if they have the learning of the project documented, probably half of the organization will take some time to compile it.”

He continues, “To that end, we have been following a certain practice. For every project that is nearing its handover time, we systematically capture all the information of its different broad aspects such as land, piling, modules, logistics, training of the people, or processes systems. This is a real case built by your real people, and is within your ecosystem. In this manner, whatever the solution or learning curve is, can be easily replicated in the second station or project where you are ready to build a similar plant. This is how the concept of considering the asset managers as internal customers and HOTO as a holistic approach, plays a role.” 

Early Stages Weigh More in Strength

“It’s not that later in time, transactionally, HOTO just happens. It is to be implemented in the earliest stages,” says Mr. Dinesh. “Sometimes, people take the first year of operation for granted as it is expected to have a lower availability with some dent in the generation. They go in the justifying mode, thinking it’s just the first year, and they can in time, buckle up. Even from a financial understanding when I interact with the asset management teams or O&Ms, some of them promise us the third-fourth high wind season to be ours while the first to be theirs. What they do not understand is, the first season is the most important. Whatever happens in the new trials, will be for the rest of the life. Right at its sprouting stage, the asset management team has to take utmost care of the plant because this is when the process and mindset is built, and so is the ownership of the asset.”

Mr. Dinesh further explains the importance of the early stage from a financial standpoint. “If a certain plant has 100 Cr revenue, and if you put a good amount of money in next 25 years, you’re supposed to have 2500 Cr revenue. However, if you lose out 5% in the first year, 3% in second year, and over the rest of the 23 years, you get even 1% higher than your estimate, you are still at loss. People tend to misjudge a 5% energy loss in the first year, thinking it is okay as it’s just the start. But if you look at the overall NPV, what you are getting, you are actually lowering it. At the sigma level, if you generate 1 Cr revenue more for next 23 years, your revenue is gross 15 Cr plus, but looking at the NPV, you are still at negative. In the sense, your IRR is impacted, and it’s not the absolute revenue. The first year has to be considered equally important if not more; in terms of NPV because no matter how many crores you generate for 25 years, the economic value addition is all that matters. This is a holistic approach and it should start from day one, if not prior. One person should always be there who is really trying to see what is going to happen in the next 25 years,” he says.

Do Not Lose Out on the Bigger Picture

“I will finally touch on the digital aspects of PV assets,” begins Mr. Dinesh. “Sometimes when you go too close to the plant, you tend to lose the bigger picture. It is, therefore, vital to have digital dashboards available for different stakeholders. What the CEO would like to see is something different from what the HO Performance Monitor would like to see, and it will be again entirely different from what the site manager wants to see. A digital tool here will help generate smart exports for a given role and perspective. Data is the new oil and rightly so, it’s generating a revolution and many companies are putting in a serious investment, which people sometimes perceive as an added cost to the company. But basically, if you make use of it and increase your top line, which directly translates your bottom line, especially as renewables have fixed variable costs, you don’t end up paying for the fuel. With that inched up revenue line, the bottom line has got to be healthy. That should be the approach, to spend only when it is to be considered an investment to generate revenue, which will not just sustain the cost of your digitalization, but it should give some superlative profits,” he concludes.

SenseHawk can help you successfully adopt a holistic approach to sustainable asset management. Contact us
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SenseHawk

SenseHawk

SenseHawk, Inc. is a provider of cloud based drone data analytics and productivity tools for the solar industry. With customers in 15 countries, SenseHawk solutions are used by solar & EPC companies for terrain analytics, construction monitoring, thermography and task management on solar sites

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