Interview with Paolo Chiantore, Kenergia Sviluppo

We recently spoke to Paolo Chiantore, Managing Director at Kenergia Sviluppo, about his experience of the European solar industry. Read on for his insights..

Q. What’s your greatest professional achievement to date?
In 2012, I have been called to lead the start-up of Kenergia Sviluppo (KS), the first independent O&M service provider in Italy for large scale  PV plants, when this activity was made only by the EPC contractors.
During this very challenging period, KS  has organized a modern Control Room in Rome, developed an O&M managing system based on the proprietary KCS monitoring software and set up a proper organization of engineers and technicians, obtaining ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications.  
Thanks to the hard work of a highly professional team, after three years, the company has reached a leading position in this field in Italy, having provided services on almost 500 MW of PV plants. 

Q. Energy storage is predicted to be a game changer for the solar industry – what’s your opinion on this?
Energy Storage is gaining momentum in many countries. This will speed up cost  reduction and the diffusion of this solutions both in domestic and industrial applications.
For large scale plants, energy storage could play a key role allowing Virtual Power Plants made of clusters of non programmable renewable energy units, to compete with conventional technologies, in non subsidized  mature energy markets.  We look forward to seeing reduced price for the storage systems and suitable regulations to apply them.

Q. What is the biggest challenging facing the Solar O&M industry today?
Nowadays  O&M contractors are not only required to provide efficient service at competitive price but also to act as a loyal  technical partner to the plant owners, in order to help them in maintaining their assets in excellent conditions and  to exploit maximum performance. As a result, contractors are required to set up a proper organization, develop management tools and apply correct procedures  to operate with quality and competence. This is a big difference compared to the previous approach on maintenance: we see the transformation of O&M contractors from providers of a marginal service required on call, to an organized entity in which the mix between engineering company know-how  and industry procedures will provide a measurable added value to the plant owners. This is the way we are acting as Kenergia Sviluppo.

Q. What advice would you give  on building good relationships with asset managers/owners?
Although with different responsibilities, plant owners, asset managers  and O&M contractors should look at the same objective, that is to to optimize plant performance, to improve them when feasible, and to prevent technical problems in the assets. For this reasons it is important to create a relationship of mutual trust and cooperation and to set up planning and reporting methodologies that comply with the requirements and the roles of all the the actors.  To achieve such a goal, the parties have to constantly share information and views. Plant documentation, historical data, performance analysis, etc. should be constantly available. This is the reason why we have implemented in our monitoring portal, some sections  specifically designed to support plant management such as the tracking of the maintenance tickets and the data-warehousing of documents and reports. 

Q. What are you most looking forward to about the SPG Europe congress?
SPG Europe congress will represent a tremendous networking opportunity: I look forward to spend those days in London to share views with experts of the European solar industry. 
As a member of the Solar Power Europe O&M Task Force, I believe that this event will represent an important milestone for our effort to develop O&M guidelines and best practice and to definitely asses the importance and the  key role of Operation & Maintenance in this industry.