As any plant owner or operator knows, running a renewable energy project has its fair share of challenges. When considering these challenges, Invenergy’s Director of Operations Engineering Sarah Connelly suggests plant operators tend to approach them in one of two ways — as a renter or a homeowner.
As a “renter,” some operators may not be inclined to make significant improvements to a project because it’s not considered a long-term investment. Invenergy thinks differently. We’re committed to having the best, most well-built house on the block and operate our fleet accordingly.
“We think of everything and analyze it with an owner’s mindset. We take this approach for every site in our fleet, whether we own it or operate it for customers,” Sarah says.
Sarah has been with Invenergy for six years and is a part of the Operations Engineering team. As she puts it, her team is one of the first lines of defense against any underperformance and lost production issues a site may face. Working with her team at Invenergy’s Chicago headquarters, Sarah coordinates with on-site technicians and managers to monitor site operations to ensure each aspect of power production is going as smoothly as possible.
“When you own a home, you notice the little things that might become big things and bite you later on,” she says. “The same applies when operating a power plant. Our technicians notice small things in the turbines that might lead to bigger issues; the engineers notice small issues in the site data that might indicate or lead to bigger issues.”
A robust program of preventative maintenance is critical to avoiding issues down the line. “You get your HVAC cleaned in your house, we change our gearbox oil filters in our turbines,” Sarah says.
And Invenergy has added major component repairs, blade repairs, solar analytics and drone scans of project sites to our routine maintenance repertoire over the past few years. We’ve developed in-house analytics tools, heatmaps for combiner currents, and inverter performance models. Invenergy understands that improving equipment reliability also improves safety — the less you get on your roof to clean a gutter or climb up-tower to repair a piece of equipment, the less risk you face.
Finally, just like homeowners can turn the lights off or control the temperature from anywhere with a smartphone, each of our projects (down to individual turbines or solar trackers) can be controlled through the Invenergy Control Center, our central operations hub that allows us to monitor the real-time performance of assets around the world.
“All this comes together to help managers, technicians and engineers to see issues at the site quickly,” Sarah says. “Wherever you are in project operations, you’re only one or two steps away from talking to an engineer or technician and getting valuable feedback about site operations.”
Like a homeowner eager to show neighbors a shiny new tool, we are happy to share these lessons with the other sites we operate so they can see similar improvements in productivity, safety and efficiency. We take success personally and are committed to being the best operators we can be for the short, medium, and long term.
Whether you’re looking for an Energy Manager, Asset Manager, or O&M and Balance of Plant (BOP) service provider, we are comprehensive yet flexible in our approach and can work with you to customize the best management for your project. Invenergy Services’ owner’s mindset sets us apart, and we’re excited to show you how.