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Actis in practice: 24/7, remote monitoring of assets

Ralf Nowack

by Ralf Nowack
 Director  
London

Actis in practice: 24/7, remote monitoring of assets Image

A view of the new Control Room of NovaSource in La Serena, integrating the 24x7 operational and security monitoring of Pelicano and other powerplants.

Optimising operations

In 2019, El Pelicano Solar Company set about optimising its Operations and Maintenance (O&M) delivery at its 110MWdc photovoltaic plant in Chile.

The plant had performed well since commercial operations began in late 2017, it had reliable, high-bandwidth energy capacity and excellent communication systems, able to operate at the high-standard required in the remote environment of the Atacama Desert. The aim was to build on this success and explore new technologies to enhance operations and reduce costs without sacrificing service quality.

Around the clock solar plants

Due to the configuration of its inverters, El Pelicano offers 24x7 operational oversight even when the sun does not shine. This includes providing useful services to the grid at night such as voltage control support.

Around the clock monitoring

Pelicano´s performance and communications capability made it an ideal candidate for remote 24x7 operation and security supervision. The plant’s O&M provider, Novasource Power Services, a spin-off of Sunpower Corporation, providing O&M services to 3.5 GW worldwide centralised the plant’s operations in the city of La Serena, 130 km south of the Pelicano plant. Novasource built a state-of-the-art control room to monitor operations and security 24x7 for its expanding portfolio of operating plants.

The new control room lead to a more effective workforce; plant maintenance can now be performed on weekdays with a ´9 to 5´ schedule by a two-person team; module washing is done at night by two subcontractors using semi-automated equipment; and as less personnel are required, the safety risks associated with transportation have been reduced.

Pelícano also upgraded security systems at the plant, to support remote monitoring of the perimeter and the rapid response of police assistance in the event of incidents.

The operational improvements underlined by the O&M contract change represent a cost reduction in excess of 30% with respect of the original value. This process and its outcomes can serve as a basis for optimisation of other assets of Actis Long Life Infrastructure Fund.