MRO Magazine

Maintenance, monitoring plans added to solar-power systems


December 6, 2010
By PEM Magazine

Toronto’s Spark Solar has introduced what it claims is the first peace-of-mind plan for the solar photovoltaic (PV) market in Ontario: monitoring and maintenance packages that provide measurable production assurance and investment protection.

Investing in a solar system or power plant is a major long-term financial undertaking that can deliver returns over the lifespan of the PV system. But when there are interruptions to the system, it can put financial returns and the investment at risk. Although solar PV systems have made major advances in efficiencies, too often the complexities of ownership and operations are understated.

For example, the simple accumulation of dirt on solar panels can have a significant impact on the performance of a PV system. And in the rapidly evolving solar PV market, solar investors can’t always count on their installers or project developers to also maintain and monitor their systems.

Recognizing that the vast majority of PV solar systems installed in Ontario are unprotected and risk underperformance, Spark Solar is partnering with AS Solar Inc. of Toronto to sell and distribute the maintenance and monitoring plans across the province. AS Solar Inc. is one of the leading distributors of complete solar PV systems, with a growing network of 100 dealers, installers and project developers. The plans will be available to solar customers through these dealers and AS Solar Inc.


Regular maintenance and ongoing monitoring of a solar system are essential to maximizing power generation and minimizing financial risk, says Andrew Clark, CEO of Spark Solar.

"Most systems are underperforming by 32 percent, stretched over the life of your microFiT contract, and that equates to almost $92,000 in lost production revenue. Our solar monitoring and maintenance solution gives users the visibility required to maintain peak production and continue to operate a profitable solar power plant," Clark says.

"Ground-mounted solar systems, especially trackers, can be a reliable source of income for the next 20 years, but these systems need to be monitored and maintained to maximize return on investment," says Ian Karleff, managing director of AS Solar Inc. "AS Solar has teamed up with Spark Solar to offer a comprehensive plan, with or without insurance, to give solar installers and their customers peace of mind for their solar harvest."

Spark Solar’s economical suite of packages all include site inspection, remote monitoring and preventative maintenance services, as well as system optimization, service and warranty management. And to round out the protection, Spark Solar’s insurance plan covers mechanical breakdown during testing and commissioning, property and general liability insurance, business interruption insurance and boiler and maintenance insurance.

Spark Solar uses cellular-based remote system monitoring to capture PV generation data, which can be accessed using Spark’s web-based monitoring dashboard. Spark’s web interface allows customers to log on from any computer to get real-time visibility of their PV system performance, track generation data and identify potential issues.
View PDF of monitoring plans.