In addition to daily monitoring and fault management, one of the core tasks of the Operation & Maintenance department is annual solar park maintenance. Every solar park in the IBC SOLAR portfolio is put through its paces. The so-called “Health, Safety, Security & Environment Requirements”, or HSSE requirements for short, are decisive for all work in solar parks. The most recent maintenance took place at the Kösten solar park (Germany) – and this time, the Executive Board was also present alongside the O&M team.
Quality and occupational safety are top priorities at IBC SOLAR, not only on paper, but also in operational dealings. To ensure this for all solar parks in the portfolio, we sometimes brave single-digit temperatures during service visits and maintenance – including our Board of Directors. During a recent two-hour inspection of the Kösten solar park at 8 a.m., the board of directors experienced the challenges of solar park maintenance and learned about the exact procedure for complying with occupational safety and environmental protection at solar parks.
From environmental protection to safety
In view of the HSSE requirements, on-site solar park maintenance focuses particularly on quality-assuring and quality-enhancing aspects. In compliance with strict safety regulations and in accordance with the ISO standards DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 = quality, DIN EN ISO 45001 = occupational health and safety and DIN EN ISO 14001:215 = environmental protection, the following criteria were discussed and evaluated together with the Executive Board:
- Risk assessment for the Kösten solar park in accordance with hazard and stress factors for ground-mounted systems in accordance with DGUV.
- In-house and O&M-specific regulations for safe services in solar parks according to valid occupational health and safety guidelines
- Operational handling and documentation of access monitoring in coordination with the control centre
- Securing and documentation of critical areas in solar parks
- Structure and sustainability of installed components
- Checklists and logging of maintenance work
- Integration of partner companies
In addition to the safety aspect, environmental protection was of course not neglected. For example, topics such as possible oil pollution from green lawn mowers but also the development maintenance of trees with wildlife protection fencing were discussed. Irrespective of the topics to be discussed, the Board was particularly surprised by the length of time required for preparation and maintenance work. However, this is necessary to ensure not only that the daily yield is secured and the value of the plants is maintained, but also that the environment and people are protected. The latter is regulated with regard to employees primarily by DGUV Regulation 1 within the framework of the HSSE requirements. Regular instruction and trainings are held, which make a major contribution to the protection of employees. Because in this way, the O&M team receives specially oriented explanations and instructions that are necessary for carrying out the work in a safe and healthy manner.
All findings and experiences from the inspection are in turn directly incorporated into the revision of the risk assessment for the Kösten solar park and into the internal process optimisation from EPC to O&M.