March 15 (Renewables Now) - Leigh Zanone, senior director of operations and asset management at solar developer Avantus LLC, previously 8minute Solar Energy, spoke to Renewables Now about trends in solar asset management ahead of the Solarplaza Summit Asset Management North America conference next month. In this quick Q&A, Zanone shares his views on cybersecurity, innovation and weather challenges, which represent some of the key topics to be discussed at the event.
Q: Cybersecurity is a bigger topic now more than ever before because of the geopolitical situation and following issues certain European companies faced last year. Are solar assets prepared?
All of our projects are designed to meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection standards for low impact assets, so this sector of the market is prepared. We have robust hardware and cybersecurity monitoring in place.
However, projects from 1 MVA to 75 MVA that are not NERC-designed may have vulnerabilities.
Q: Are asset managers and solar farm operators ready to embrace innovation?
The historical core issue for solar asset management is that the cost of execution is often underestimated during design. Therefore, we are highly economically motivated to search for and recommend innovation to our design and supply counterparts in the industry to reduce the cent-per-watt cost of operation and maintenance (O&M).
Q: What can asset managers do to deal with extreme weather conditions and maximise damage prevention associated with natural disasters?
First, design for 100-year events. Second, seek better wind stow solutions in the southeast and hail stow in the Midwest to help mitigate hurricane damage and hail damage, respectively. Third, preplan an insurance programme that accurately estimates the total maximum loss. Really, only a Category 5 hurricane on a project very near the coast would be a 100% total installed value loss. Almost every other natural disaster would affect only a percentage of the equipment.
Avantus will be present at the Solarplaza Summit Asset Management North America conference that will take place on April 13-14 in San Diego, California. Speaking at the event, Zanone will focus on the topic of future-proofing revenue strategies.