Managing a PV investment is more of a marathon than a sprint

Jarosław Żelewski, Chief Operating Officer, Nomad Electric Services

Advanced analytics, modern tools, and a highly qualified team influence the quality of O&M services, translating into profitable installations.

What is the role of O&M services for photovoltaic farms?

Jarosław Żelewski (JŻ): The role of O&M (Operations & Maintenance) services is crucial for maintaining efficient energy production and ensuring the long-term maximization of solar investments. Building and commissioning a photovoltaic installation is just the beginning of the marathon that is professional investment management. Therefore, the assumption that once a PV farm is operational, it requires no maintenance, and electricity “flows on its own” is incorrect. At Nomad Electric, we provide comprehensive O&M services, including Main substation (GPO – Główny Punkt Odbioru) service and HV (high voltage) infrastructure. In our project portfolio, we have secured O&M contracts with a total capacity of over 1.3 GWp, making us a leader in this field. We focus not only on repairs but also on preventing faults and improving the efficiency of the solar system through advanced data analysis. Every plant is unique, but one thing is certain, a photovoltaic installation is an investment that requires continuous professional maintenance, and that’s exactly what we provide.

What does prevention in O&M entail?

: Prevention in O&M involves providing energy infrastructure services that help avoid failures while maintaining low costs and maximizing customer profits. We conduct periodic inspections according to a schedule determined by legal regulations, component warranty requirements, or more frequently, upon the customer’s request. Our technologically advanced Monitoring Center operates 24/7 throughout the year and is equipped with state-of-the-art devices and our proprietary SCADA Nomad NX software. This software is responsible for remotely reading measurement values from devices located on the photovoltaic farm, continuously monitoring parameters such as voltage, current, solar radiation, current production, or the status of switches responsible for transmitting electricity to the distribution network. This allows us to detect even minor irregularities and deviations from the norm at a very early stage.

What happens when irregularities are detected?

: After a thorough analysis by our Monitoring Center operators, we take remote action, or if necessary, we report the issue to Service Engineers working in the field. We have highly qualified service teams located throughout the country, enabling us to quickly respond to any reports. Additionally, the foundation of our work is the SENTINEL platform, which allows for the digitization and automation of all technical maintenance processes for PV installations. The system allows users to easily assign and track tasks, check their status, and generate reports on completed work. The integrated mobile application allows dispatchers to monitor the location of service engineers and track progress in real-time. This symbiosis of people and technology has reduced our response time and problem-solving duration. As a result, we have minimized farm downtime and maximized energy production.

You also provide modules image diagnostics, can you elaborate?

: For us, every kilowatt-hour counts. Therefore, we utilize various diagnostic methods for PV modules, including electroluminescence, which allows us to identify the exact location of any damage in the silicon layer beneath the surface of the glass. Furthermore, we have the capability to conduct this examination in our mobile laboratory. We recommend performing this type of examination even before the panels are installed to prevent future failures and issues related to the responsibility of the general contractor once the farm is in operation.
We also have our fleet of drones equipped with high-resolution thermal cameras. These drones allow us to measure cell temperature distribution and precisely detect hot spots. Specialized diagnostics, combined with advanced analytics, enable us to see the invisible.

The monitoring devices you mentioned generate hundreds of gigabytes of data. How do you manage and analyze them?

: At Nomad Electric, we combine the knowledge and experience of our engineers with new technologies daily. We invest in already available newest tools but also focus on finding innovative solutions, especially in the areas of big data and Machine Learning algorithms. We aim to be among the top 5 O&M companies in Europe and consistently build our competitive advantage through technology.

To meet O&M needs, we have developed the proprietary SCADA software, Nomad NX, which processes approximately 120 TB of data annually from hundreds of farms we manage in Poland and abroad. These data are automatically analyzed by algorithms that precisely detect any deviations in production or indicator levels, supporting the establishment of priorities. This allows for a rapid response and problem resolution, minimizing downtime and maximizing energy production. Effective preventive actions have led to higher energy generation and increased profits, exceeding the planned targets during contract negotiations. This is a source of great pride for us.

What is the awareness of farm owners regarding O&M services?

: The Polish photovoltaic market is mature and continues to grow dynamically. There are already a significant number of PV installations in our country, and there will be even more as they are an important part of the power grid. Farm owners understand that professional management and continuous operation are crucial for maintaining stable energy production and generating a higher return on investment. Therefore, many investors appreciate the quality of our services, reflected in our growing project portfolio, not only in Poland but also internationally.

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