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Trade body the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has established a task force to develop best practice guidelines in the field of solar operations and maintenance (O&M).

The task force, which will be led by US firm First Solar, had its inaugural meeting at the end of April and will now begin drawing up the guidelines.

O&M is coming increasingly to the fore as PV plant owners look to maximise the value of their project portfolios.

“It is perfect timing for EPIA to take on the development of solar PV O&M best practices. Without appropriate and thorough O&M services PV power plant revenues are at risk," said Stefan Degener, senior director for O&M EMEA at First Solar.

“The members of the task force prove with their interest and work that there is a need for these guidelines. We have been supporting this initiative from the beginning and will contribute to ensure solar PV plants' reliable performance and long-term profitability.”

A number of other prominent companies join First Solar on the task force, including 3E, 7C Solarparken, Adler Solar, Alectris, DuPont, Enel Green Power, Enphase, Fortum, Lark Energy, meteocontrol, Primrose solar, Solarcentury, tco-solar, Trina Solar and UL. 

Alongside EPIA the task force will develop the guidelines over the second half of this year with the aim of creating a set of standardised recommendations for the industry.

EPIA CEO James Watson said: “Best practices to support solar PV operations and maintenance are critically important to PV solar becoming a serious energy generator here in the EU and globally. Initiatives are emerging in the US and other markets to aggregate industry knowledge into standardised recommendations. With our new solar PV O&M group, EPIA is leading efforts to ensure those practices are available to our sector.”

Beyond the core membership of the task force, EPIA is inviting other experts in the field of PV O&M and asset management to join the group.

The body said it would promote the final guidelines across the European PV industry, with the intention that they will be adopted by all relevant stakeholders.

A combination of increased PV capacity worldwide, ageing fleets and the need to maximise the revenue from plants has created a boom in the worldwide O&M business. Recent analysis from GTM Research put the 2014 market for O&M at 88GW.