Clean Power Finance yesterday announced its launch of an online product to match vendors with system service agents – a move that could soothe investor concerns over risks associated with long-term operations and management of residential solar systems.
The O&M Marketplace allows solar system managers and owners – particularly third-party financiers – to connect and contract with repair, maintenance and inspection professionals. Between three and four major vendors are signed up to the marketplace which offers access to a broad network of service technicians who do not necessarily install systems but can help service them.
Standard & Poor's has listed the lack of reliable ongoing O&M services for installed solar systems as a major hurdle for investors considering the residential solar market.
Nat Kreamer, Clean Power Finance’s chief executive, said: “Lack of ongoing O&M services is a major perceived risk that currently hinders DG solar investment. The O&M Marketplace provides investors with a solution that will lead to increased investment, drive down the cost of financing and pave the way for securitisation.”
CPF says that its marketplace will ensure that the price, quality and speed of O&M servicing remains competitive by allowing those requiring service to choose the most competitive vendor bid and rate job performance. Service providers, which currently include Burnham Energy and Next Phase, will have access to new sources of revenue.
Adam Burstein, chief executive of Next Phase Solar, which provides O&M services for the solar PV industry, said: “We have been able to grow our nationwide service partnership quickly and effectively. Working with the O&M Marketplace has enabled us to deliver a higher level of service to our customers.”
Greg Sellers, CPF's vice president of field operations, told PV Tech: “The challenge that we face as we deploy more solar systems is to how to efficiently assess and service systems that are spread out over a very broad area across the US.
“The marketplace helps us to identify qualified individuals and make sure they're qualified in a particular skill set and to identify folks across that broad geography. As we have projects come up, we're then able to efficiently identify folks who have the skill set to do it and drive down the costs of O&M.
“In our case, we need to confirm that our fleet of systems is performing as expected. Most of what's out there in the industry there is quite a lot of data but most of it has been done in the classroom than the rooftop.”
The O&M Marketplace was funded in part by a 2012 grant from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.
CPF’s core product is a software platform aimed at reducing the costs associated with financing DG solar by streamlining interactions between investors and solar professionals.
In July, the San Francisco-based company announced the launch of the Paramount Energy Fund, the sixth residential solar finance fund available through the CPF Market. Founded in 2006, CPF now manages half a billion dollars of project financing on behalf of third-party solar investors.