Lightsource Renewable Energy, the UK’s largest solar developer, has announced the formation of new operations and maintenance (O&M) arm.

The company’s new O&M division employs 16 full time staff, with a further 15 new roles expected to be created during the next six months.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Mark Turner, operations director for Lightsource, explained why the company decided to launch the new venture: “Initially we have set up our new maintenance team as ‘subcontractors’ for an increasing number of the construction firms (EPCs) that build our plants. No one will care about our plants as much as we do. Our team will not only maintain the plants but actively look to improve the performance of the plant. They will go to the EPC and say ‘We think this needs attention, we’d like to work on it.

“We're moving to provide the full O&M performance wrap as our plants come out of their warranty period and we're being approached by other plant owners to provide them with the same service,” added Turner.

The developer’s O&M team will be headquartered at Lightsource’s Bath office, with engineers spending the majority of their time on site in the South West. The company has high hopes for the new arm and the level of employment it will bring to the area. Turner explained: “These new specialist maintenance jobs are created locally to our operational solar farms and therefore benefit the local economy. By directly employing the maintenance teams, Lightsource employs around three times more local people per acre than the average for agriculture.

“So whilst our business contributes over £2 million per annum to the rural economy through rental payments to farmers we are also bringing skilled jobs to the regions,” continued Turner.

The addition of a maintenance team to the developer’s business will create a new revenue stream for Lightsource Renewable Energy, which also believes that the knowledge gained working on the assets will help inform future projects.  

“We will be much more knowledgeable about what it takes to build a high performing, maintainable site and we can feed that back to our EPCs enabling them to build even better plants on the future,” concluded Turner.

Lightsource Renewable Energy is exhibiting at stand P13 during Solar Energy UK.