December 30, 2019

Renewable Energy Asset Management

What does a Renewable Energy Asset Manager do?

An Asset Manager working in Renewable Energy is responsible for managing and optimising the life-time performance of a physical Energy Asset. On a day-to-day basis this will involve managing the obligations from a wide range of non-standard project documents such as the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), land leases (dealing with landowners), insurance, financial agreements (liaising with and reporting to lenders (debt providers)), and overseeing contractor agreements such as holding the operations and maintenance (O&M) providers to account.

An Asset Manager needs to understand the details of the agreements, the party obligations and deadlines. Some common tasks asset managers may face include regulatory filings, solving commercial and technical issues, monitoring performance, managing health and safety, creating invoices, making payments, renewing contracts, issuing certificates, interacting with customers and vendors, tracking warranties, insurance or legal claims, preparing and analysing budgets and submitting reports to investors and banks.

Is asset management the same as O&M?

Operations and Maintenance activities can be described as on the ground including technical equipment fixes in the field. Where an Asset Manager is looking at the overall performance of the asset (Commercial, financial performance, Valuation, risk +) taking into account the entire life-cycle, an O&M team is purely looking at the physical operations; are the oil levels in a transformer correct?, does the solar panel need replacing?, is there a crack in the blade of the wind turbine? Etc.

Typical Sub-sectors within Renewable Energy Asset Management

Project Enhancement – Investors within Renewable Energy typically have a 10+ year time horizon to the expected life of the asset. As projects mature and the industry develops, new lessons are learnt and it’s possible to reactively enhance physical assets. For example, a solar farm built today will have a far higher efficiency than one built in the early 2000’s. Taking lessons from the latest projects, an asset manager might look to make plant improvements to extend the life of the asset, increase the power output, improve the safety, automation and more.

SCADA – SCADA is an acronym for supervisory control and data acquisition, a computer system for gathering and analysing real time data. SCADA systems are used to monitor and control a plant or equipment across Energy and other physical assets. Often falling within a Condition monitoring function or within Asset Management software for smaller capabilities.

Asset Manager – The job of the Asset Manager is to coordinate and take ultimate responsibility for all activities relating to the optimisation of the asset over its entire life cycle.

Data and Condition Monitoring – Collection, verification and presentation of asset data for use across all processes and client reporting. It is often through condition monitoring that an Asset Manager will be alerted to an under performance or physical issue with an asset. For example, a lower yielding solar panel can be identified through condition monitoring by benchmarking it to the broader performance across the wider asset.

How do Asset Management Functions differ between types of organisation?

You can expect to find Asset Management functions within Financial Investors (Equity), Lenders (Debt), Project Developers and Sponsors (Utilities, Energy Conglomerates, Independent Power Producers) as well as third party managers. The priority of the asset management team will vary depending on the organisation they sit within. A Project Developer will emphasize physical asset optimisation (maybe they have an In-House O&M Team) as well as optimising income either via the PPA or through trading merchant power. A lender by contrast will have very little involvement in the day-to-day management of the asset but will emphasize risk management and reporting.

 For a Financial Investor, it is quite common to have a Commercial Asset Management function supported by a team of Technical Asset Managers. Within an Independent Power Producer this would be uncommon and you would expect one person to combine technical and commercial experience.

What future developments can we expect within Renewable Energy Asset Management?

The priority of an Asset Manager is to optimise performance, increase asset life and value. As a result, many of our clients are pushing for greater automation, creative forms of value enhancement (financial and technical) and reducing costs. Current themes we are seeing include; replacing physical site visits with Drone Inspections, Automating cleaning and analysis with technical solutions, driving increased investment in older assets (bringing them inline with the latest technologies), and increases in use of Asset Management software and analytics.

Example Archived Asset Management Vacancies

Senior Offshore Wind Asset Manager – International Investment Fund

Senior offshore wind asset manager sought by established international energy investor. With an operational portfolio that includes Onshore & Offshore wind, solar, anaerobic digestion and fast response assets, they are scaling their investment activities in the Netherlands and looking for an experience hire with strong offshore wind experience. 

Head of Asset Management Project Delivery – Solar & Onshore Wind

A leading Asset Manager with an operational portfolio in excess of 1GW is looking to appoint a Head of Project Delivery. The successful Project Delivery Manager will take charge of a portfolio of complex projects across a sizable Solar PV and Onshore Wind asset portfolio.

Asset Manager – Renewable Energy (Solar & Wind)

Asset Manager sought by specialist project developer and asset manager. Having recently tripled the size of the solar portfolio, our client are looking at appoint an experienced asset manager to oversee the commercial and technical operations. Split across northern Germany, the portfolio includes utility scale and commercial solar plants from sub 1mw to 10+ mw per site.