When it comes to renewable energy asset management, there is now very little room for error. The years of lofty FiT contracts are behind us. So, whether you’re in wind or solar, you need to know how your projects are doing. Whether production is meeting expectations or not, and above all, how to improve the returns from a given project.
Streamlining renewable energy asset management is all about improving project returns—in fact, it’s the raison d’être of PowerHub. Understandably, it’s a word we use quite often. For this discussion, I wanted to dig deeper and explain what exactly we mean when we talk about streamlining renewable energy asset management.
What Does Streamlining Renewable Energy Asset Management Mean?
Simply put, streamlining asset management means automating tasks so you and your colleagues can focus on value-added activities.
You’re dealing with big projects and big data. You have busy schedules. Your valuable resources should not be tied up in manual copy-pasting within excel sheets. Get this, I’ve spoken to companies that are spending 40 hours a month (an entire workweek of someone’s month!) generating reports. I’ve spoken to companies who are taking weeks or days to generate invoices. That’s just too much inefficiency.
Streamlining processes is about looking at these time-sinkholes in the face and getting rid of them. It means using the right tools to free up valuable time, so that your team’s expertise and manpower is focused on activities that move the needle on asset performance.
When Should I Start Streamlining Renewable Energy Asset Management?
While I always assert that streamlining energy asset management should be the first priority on an asset manager’s mind, we don’t live in an ideal world. A world where all factors are in our control and real-time asset management tasks are easy.
Which is why, when I am asked about the timeline to streamline, my answer is: it depends on the type and number of projects you have in your portfolio.
I always conjure a matrix in my mind when I think about this. There are four possible combinations. You either have:
- A small number of standard projects (similar PPAs & jurisdiction)
- A large number of standard projects
- A small number of complex projects (a mix of wind and solar, across different jurisdictions) OR
- A large number of complex projects
Scenario 1: You’re in a rinse-and-repeat business when it comes to project design and operation. Renewable energy asset management is simple and factors affecting all projects are pretty much the same.
Scenario 2-3: With added complexity, you should definitely be streamlining your asset management. Consequently, you will spend less time tracking your projects and more time fine-tuning them.
Scenario 4: It’s a no brainer. You need streamlining. If you haven’t already done so, please get started. Like now. It will lower your operating expenses and maximizing profitability so you can be more competitive in the long run.
How Does Streamlining Renewable Energy Asset Management Benefit Me?
By streamlining energy asset management processes like invoicing or billing, you free up time—and time (here it comes…) is money.
Trust me, a little restructuring can help a smaller group of asset managers oversee a larger number of assets. The work they do will add value because now, they’re not wasting time finding or copying numbers. Instead, they’re analyzing those numbers to ask why and how.
Since these numbers will now be available readily across the organization, you can easily pinpoint issues with renewable energy asset performances and work to optimize the portfolio faster.
How’s that for a plan to maximize profitability?!
Streamlining your operations and maintenance plans means taking a critical look at truck-roll calculations, route optimizations, and other parts of your maintenance regimes.
Literally speaking, optimizing O&M means sending the right person to the right site at the right time. Ask yourself: how long is this person travelling between sites? Does she have the right tools to do her job? Does she have the right permissions and certifications? Indeed, these are some of the crucial factors that mark the difference between a cumbersome maintenance period, and a streamlined plan.
By automating such repetitive tasks and refocusing your teams on optimization, you can turn decision making into a much more productive process.
When it comes to reporting, everyone thinks their needs are unique. I recently spoke to a company who was sinking 40 hours a month of an asset manager’s time to create reports in Excel—that’s a waste of time, especially when reports can take minutes to create!
However, more than uniqueness, there’s an underlying fundamental issue. Reporting is a mundane, repetitive task that involves pulling numbers, copying, pasting and formatting. These are the perfect activities that can benefit from automation. Consequently, the same asset manager will now focus on what really matters in a report.
For instance, an asset manager should be spending time breaking these numbers, their impact on asset value and what they mean in terms of next steps. With the right automation, the asset manager will have the time for these analytical duties, that’s what streamlining renewable energy asset management is all about.
Where to Start? Right Here, Right Now.
If you’re in renewable energy asset management, start this journey by looking at the processes that take the most time. Ask your teams which of these cause them the most pain and the value they will get out of automating them.