Global solar operations and maintenance (O&M) spend is expected to hit $15 billion by 2030—for the non-residential market alone. 

With residential solar O&M factored in, the industry looms even larger. 

O&M, which governs preventative maintenance, repairs, and site and asset management, is crucial to maintaining a successful solar project.

Here, we’ll look at three major trends to watch in this essential and growing industry. 

1. Escalating costs

According to Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consultancy firm, the solar industry has seen a consistent reduction in costs over the last few years. 

The trend has now shifted, and O&M costs have begun to climb—mostly due to rising labor expenses. Companies wanting to provide quality service from trained technicians will need to find more room in their budgets. 

But it’s not just the labor. 

Equipment expenses are struggling to recover from post-pandemic effects, such as the rising costs of materials and manufacturing delays. Plus, solar panel tariffs caused a spike in product costs before the US enacted a 24-month hold on them in June.

2. Increased adoption of automation

Daniel Liu, Principal Analyst at Wood Mackenzie, called O&M automationone of the last few places to unlock additional cost efficiencies on a project.”

O&M is increasingly relying on automation to solve numerous woes and streamline processes. 

On the back end, for example, scheduling apps have automated the systems needed to book meetings and schedule events on the calendar. While these apps have existed for years, their adoption by many companies has been slow. 

As the user interface of these apps has improved, the adoption rate has increased. Many companies now schedule preventative maintenance and other services automatically, with the software doing the work of applying schedule restraints and the type of technician needed.

Automation has also streamlined the maintenance of equipment. For instance, some tools allow for event monitoring and self-diagnosis to improve overall efficiency and decrease time and labor investment.

3. Continued shift to cloud-based software

Automation isn’t the only tech trend to watch. 

While many large enterprises have been on the cloud-based software train for some time now, small- and mid-size companies are discovering this time and cost saver.

On-premise software requires upgrades and managing hardware, but cloud-based software offers an approach with no strings attached. 

Instead of spending time and mental energy on monotonous tasks, team members can focus on delivering high-quality services. 

Cloud software consolidates the management of O&M processes and makes daily tasks much more efficient. For example, SiteCapture streamlines field operations, letting users complete site surveys, take photos, and organize and share data with their teams. 

What’s on the horizon? 

As O&M companies watch costs rise, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the solution lies in introducing automated systems and “cloudification.” 

Companies keeping a close eye on profit margins should keep an even closer watch on tech trends.

Ready to start streamlining your solar O&M processes? We’re here to help. Book a demo with SiteCapture today.