Q&A with NovaSource CEO, Jack Bennett, and New Energy Update by Reuters Events
Jack Bennett, CEO at NovaSource Power Services, sat down — virtually — with New Energy Update by Reuters Events to contribute to the conversation on the new normal for renewable energy asset managers, operators and owners as we deal with the impact of coronavirus. Read on for his insights on the future of global O&M services.
New Energy Update (NEU): What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in renewable energy O&M in the past 2 months?
Jack Bennett, CEO at NovaSource: Building a sustainable workforce with qualified field technicians to service the rapid buildout of projects in the United States and globally represents a significant challenge.
NovaSource has implemented a three tied qualification program to allow for a structured progression of skills acquisition. Our entry level team members go through a training program focused on core tasks like inverter maintenance, and as they progress in the program and career qualification for complicated tasks like high voltage maintenance activities. The program includes training, testing and certifying team members to ensure we continuously have a highly competent and tenured workforce.
We’ve also experienced several instances of high power factors, as compared to name plate capacity, on low and high voltage bushings. Meticulously following our transformer recovery plan, which includes a robust stock of spare bushings allowed us to rapidly recover and bring transformers back online with minimum lost energy. More investigation is need by the industry to understand the root cause of these issues.
NEU: Where do you foresee shifts in the O&M market for 2020 and beyond?
Jack: After a period of declining prices for O&M services, we believe the market has found equilibrium with O&M operators finding efficiencies to deliver competitive pricing and quality service and customers starting to differentiate and select high quality operators to service their sites. Over the coming years, O&M operators that can invest capital in training programs, analytics, proprietary algorithmic scheduling and critical spare parts will have a clear competitive advantage.
As customers scale their ownership of assets, they will seek to transfer risk and go beyond basic availability guarantees. NovaSource’s performance guarantee product, backed by structured insurance from Ariel Re, assumes risks for performance of critical equipment, like transformers and inverters, and ties our fee to the energy output of the plant.
NEU: What are you most excited about for NovaSource Power Services throughout 2020?
Jack: After 20 years of being part of vertically integrated company we’ve become an independent global solar O&M company. NovaSource will build on its legacy and track record to offer even greater value in the operations, maintenance and management of off-grid to utility scale projects around the world. We will do this by leveraging our deep and long-tenured expertise, relentless operational excellence, strong sponsorship from Clairvest, a well-capitalized balance sheet, global footprint and legacy of innovation in our service offerings
NEU: What are your goals and vision for NovaSource Power Services?
Jack: The vision for NovaSource is to deliver affordable renewable power for people around the world through a sustainable workforce. What this means for us that we’ll strive to be the premier, global O&M services provider for renewable energy assets, maintain a world-class culture of safety and integrity, while developing lasting partnerships with our customers and team members.
To operate successfully, we’ll focus on safety through our Zero4Us Safety program; provide a high level of transparency with customers and provide robust solutions to their needs and stay curious to create new solutions in an ever-changing market. To do this, we’ll need to maintain a sustainable environment for our most important asset, our team. Executing on these operating principles will allow us to achieve our mission and long-term goal of creating the best in class scaled global O&M renewable provider.
For more insights from four other industry leaders, don’t miss the full recording of last month’s live webinar and Q&A, “Now What? Adapting to the New Normal for Renewable Energy Asset Managers.” Click here to watch the recording.