[Interview] West O&M President on Solar Plant Maintenance, Inspection (1)

2018/03/06 06:12
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Institute
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West Holdings Corporation has expanded its business operations as a company that handles overall solar power generation businesses including designing, construction, O&M (operation and management) and power generation, targeting residential and business solar power equipment, through the companies belonging to the group.

We interviewed Masahiko Oyama, president of West O&M of Hiroshima City, which belongs to the West Group and handles the solar power plant O&M service business, and asked about the key points in maintenance and inspection of mega (large scale) solar power plants that have been in operation for several years.

Received 300 orders for O&M services

Q: The West Group is one of the major players in solar power generation plants in Japan; one of its group companies, West Energy Solution Inc of Hiroshima city, offers EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) services to more than 240 solar power plants. Could you tell us about the actual contracts on O&M services offered to completed power plants and the goal you have set?

Masahiko Oyama, president of West O&M (source: Nikkei BP)

Oyama: We have signed approximately 300 contracts so far and the contracts cover a total capacity of 400MW or more. We originally aimed for 320 contracts, but we now want to aim for 400 and then 500 because the original goal is about to be achieved.

In addition to offering O&M services to the projects to which EPC services were offered by West Energy Solution, we also aim to receive orders from projects that entrusted EPC services to external companies.

Some companies recently have been withdrawing from the mega solar EPC business, and these companies also tend to withdraw from the O&M service business that they handle via group companies. In regard to entrusting the O&M services to a different company, the number of inquiries from mega solar sites that entrusted the EPC services to these companies has been increasing.

Q: The solar power O&M service business is growing and the competition is becoming more intense.

Oyama: The West Group has knowhow on solar panels, which was accumulated through construction of residential solar power facilities, and so forth, as well as knowhow on grid connection equipment, because we handle large-scale projects connected to high-voltage and extra-high-voltage transmission lines. The wide range of business operations and knowhow are the strength of our group.

Q: Are you concerned about receiving orders at lower prices because of excessive competition?

Oyama: It is an important theme for us to appeal our unique strengths and streamline the O&M operations, and we have been making efforts with this theme in mind. For example, to solve problems, engineers on-site and highly skilled specialists discuss by remote communication using web images, aiming to avoid high costs arising from sending the specialists to the sites. We introduce systems that streamline operations while maintaining the quality of O&M services.

Continued efforts to streamline operations while improving and maintaining the quality are essential for survival; something that is applied to all industries.