The best solution for the digitalization of PV Operations

At PV Operations Europe in Munich Martin Schneider, managing director of meteocontrol talks about the goals and challenges of the digitalization of PV Operations.

Martin, your topic this year is "The Digitalization of PV Operations". Why is meteocontrol focusing on this topic?

Digitalization is the key to empower our customers even more. We want to make it easier for them to handle the entire process of operating PV Systems. Thanks to our monitoring solution blue'Log and VCOM, we are already in the first row to detect technical issues and underperforming photovoltaic plants. But our contribution should not end by just identifying malfunctions or yield losses. Our aim is to close the loop of the O&M Service and by that to provide a holistic solution for the entire process. 

You are the managing director of an international company with a very busy schedule - just how deep are you really into the subject?

Even after years as managing director, I am still an engineer at heart and I always think solution-oriented. Our agile processes and flat hierarchies at meteocontrol allow me to stay up-to-date easily on all ongoing and future projects. I am continuously exchanging ideas with our talented product development team. 

On the other hand, I am also a stakeholder:  I receive reports and status updates for photovoltaic plants on a regular basis and consider it as a quality feature to have all information centralized in one platform – as detailed as I want. That's when digitalization becomes visible, it’s amazing.

The VCOM and other monitoring platforms do already highlight CMMS-features. Why is this not going far enough?

Never change a winning team, right? It's true, until a certain point you may work with an existing solution and any new feature is of course helpful. But what we are working on right now goes far beyond developing a ticket system or a simple calendar function. Based on the experiences with our customers, we are very much aware of the many challenges in the daily business. To raise the efficiency of their O&M teams, our customers need to streamline their processes in a single platform.

This approach comes just at the right time, since the business is being turned upside down right now. Time-management is becoming more and more critical for O&M Managers and a detailed systematic reprocessing is a very costly matter. Digitalization will empower our customers to work faster, more efficient and deliver accurate reports in a much shorter time period. 

For meteocontrol, digitalization means developing new software and networking of information. This development must then be combined with practical experiences.

Final question – do you think digitalization is especially a European topic?

The first step is always to implement O&M for assets, the second one is optimization. The acceptance of monitoring is now worldwide (almost) given and O&M is more and more established.

But in reality, it often depends on the region. It is sometimes still necessary to have service teams permanently on-site. But with a growing portfolio, usage of remote monitoring and having a highly qualified service team at hand, digitalization becomes much more critical. In the best-case scenario, new regions can benefit from our European model and will – by following our lead – be able to bypass uncontrolled experiences. On the other hand, we may just as well learn from them, as their approach often tend to start digitally – using the Cloud instead of a local intranet is just one among many examples.

Finally, when the price pressure is high, efficiency becomes even more relevant. It is the goal of the O&M providers to be able to provide high quality services while controlling the costs.

Our goal is to deliver the best solution for the digitalization of PV Operations.