Electricity from photovoltaic assets is encouraged via the feed-in tariff. Plant operators are guaranteed a fixed remuneration for solar electricity fed into the grid over a period of 20 years. This means that the revenues of a solar PV asset can be forecast relatively reliably.
Feed-in remuneration through the German Renewable Energy Sources Act of 2005
The development of the feed-in tariff under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act or EEG (German: Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) from 2005 is shown in the following table and graph:
Effects of falling feed-in tariffs on the PV service industry
The initially high feed-in tariffs have also allowed relatively high margins for the professional support of solar PV assets. However, the rapidly declining investment costs for solar PV assets is leading to new expectations in the market. The service industry has to follow suit and draw a similar price trend. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, prices for O&M contracts fell by 30% to around €10/kWp per year. Personnel costs play the largest role in the service business. This cost pressure has a direct impact on maintenance contracts and in order to meet the price targets, these contracts have to be adjusted.
With the introduction of digital technologies in the solar industry, workflows can be partially automated and available resources can be used in a more targeted way. In the future, monitoring systems will examine PV systems reliably and cost-effectively, while maintenance personnel will be able to carry out value-adding activities at the customer’s premises.
The prices for monitoring software today are still often around €0.80/kWp per year. This will change very soon, because from the customer’s point of view the price-performance ratio is no longer right. The simple visualization of data is no longer perceived as value-generating or even value-adding.