3
June

Challenges of Utility Scale Solar PV Projects



Utility scale solar projects are expanding very quickly around the world, paving the way for many opportunities for investors and solar EPC contractors, but they also present many challenges due to their complexity and very big size.

utility-scale-solar-pv-new-annual-capacity utility-scale-solar-pv-cumulative-operating-capacity
The graphs show continental deployment of solar power plants of 4MWAC and over (source: WikiSolar)

Everyone involved in the value chain of a such big solar power facility is exposed to different kinds of risk.

Considerations on risks include site access and ground levelling, vegetation management, climatic conditions, logistical aspects, financial/political stability and, of course, design of the installation itself.

Site access and ground levelling

utility-scale-solar-pv-projects-site-access-ground-levelling

Utility scale solar projects cover very large areas of ground that cannot be perfectly smooth.

Site access and levelling ground preparation is one of the most important aspect in the construction of utility scale solar PV projects.

An uneven ground can cause flooding during periods of heavy rain. For the same reason, in rainy tropical regions it is necessary to provide a correct drainage system.

Geotechnical Testing

Geotechnical testing is essential for the construction of utility scale projects, because it helps to determine the best foundation, embedment depths and mounting system to be used.

An important aspect of soil testing is to assess corrosion rate, which can often cause unexpected costs for any installation, especially on large utility-scale projects. When there are corrosive soils mitigation measures, like protection of the material, have to be developed in the affected area.

Climatic conditions

world-climate-map

Utility scale solar PV farms are usually installed in countries with high solar radiation, but generally they are subject to cold/hot temperatures and different climatic conditions throughout the year.

Depending on the environmental conditions, the solar PV panels have to be protected from wind, snow, dust and sand. Ordinary cleaning and maintenance should be sufficient in these cases, but for very large installations these services have to be scheduled more frequently.

Climatic conditions must be also considered both during the design phase, because the yield of a PV plant also depends on the temperature, and during construction phase, because workers must operate in safe and proper conditions. For example, if the installation of the utility scale solar PV plant is in a location at extreme high temperature, like desert areas, it is important to plan night shifts.

Design, Project Management and Communication

Since that utility scale solar PV projects generate a lot of energy, design specifications acquire importance, because their modifications cause a huge variation in the production.

Most common faults are caused by combination or accumulation of actions in different stages or simply by wrong or inadequate communications between the project engineers and the construction workers.

To avoid this misunderstandings, the presence of a good project manager is fundamental, as well as a specific training for on-site workers.

It is also important to provide an expert team dedicated to the utility scale PV project, following some management aspects:

  • Scouting and vendor qualification process

  • Guarantee of supervision by a qualified and experienced team

  • Implementation of a QA/QC process that allows to manage all aspects of quality control

  • ESHS Team to manage environmental, social, health and safety issues.

pv-project-construction-team

Logistics

utility-scale-solar-pv-projects-logistics

Large scale solar photovoltaic plant projects involve a huge amount of material and many construction workers.

In order to minimise costs and avoid penalties due to installation delays, all the different components must arrive on schedule. There must be coordination between purchasing & logistics department and suppliers to make sure every component arrives on time respecting the budget.

Indeed, in order to mitigate the congestion at the delivery of the materials on the site it is important to create a direct channel of communication between the “Logistic Service Provider” and the” Facility Management Company “that manages all the general services for that site.

Regarding directly employed personnel, a secure accommodation and a trusted local driver should be booked before the beginning of the construction works.

Transmission and distribution infrastructure

To foster sustainable, low-emission development, many countries are setting ambitious renewable energy targets for their electricity supply.

Scaling up renewable energy PV projects requires electric grid expansion and upgrades to support the additional power capacity of utility scale systems, often installed far from the existing transmission grids.

It is important in this context that governments, investors or solar EPC contractors carry out grid integration studies and verifications to be sure to develop and deliver variable renewable energy in an efficient way. The development of reliable integration methods maximize the cost-effectiveness of incorporating variable renewable energy into the country electric power system while maintaining or increasing system stability and reliability, avoiding future black outs.

Financing

Like most infrastructure projects, utility scale solar PV projects normally require huge financial resources, long construction and pay back periods. Meeting the financing needs of such projects, especially in countries with an undeveloped financial market, is really a daunting challenge.

Usually, for utility scale PV projects, different shareholders are involved in the financing scheme, and banks play an important role. For the main shareholders is important to have good relationships with international banks that are often responsible for the financing of the major percentage of the utility scale PV Project.


Enerray, with 12 years of experience in the solar photovoltaic sector, is a leading Italian company in the engineering, manufacturing and management of utility scale PV systems. We can offer Italian excellence and innovation by installing projects with high engineering standards, attitude to problem-solving & flexibility and global experience, proven by over 800 MWp installed and under construction and over 860 MWp under maintenance worldwide.

Financial solidity and reliability, as well as strong relationships with the main credit institutions and international development banks as IFC and EBRD, make Enerray the perfect partner for those who want to invest in photovoltaics without worry.

Contact us for more information>

 


keep up on the latest news from Enerray and related to the solar photovoltaic sector. Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Articoli correlati

2018 Renewable energy statistics in Italy
23 July 2019
The legislation of photovoltaic systems in Italy and the new FER 1 Decree
8 July 2019
Challenges of Utility Scale Solar PV Projects
3 June 2019
Self-consumption and electricity sales options for photovoltaic systems
25 May 2019
The advantages of industrial rooftop photovoltaic systems
20 May 2019
The importance of choosing a qualified solar EPC contractor
3 May 2019
How much energy does a solar photovoltaic panel produce?
1 April 2019
Utility Scale Solar farms are seeing exponential growth
20 March 2019
MENA Solar Energy Outlook 2019
23 January 2019
Enerray’s expanding business in MENA
9 January 2019
Algeria starts its renewable energy future with a 150 MW solar PV tender
17 December 2018
Oman will build the largest solar park in the region
12 November 2018
Utility Scale Solar PV Parks in UAE and Gulf Area
17 October 2018
Commercial and industrial rooftop solar systems in UAE and Gulf Area
25 September 2018
Design and construction of photovoltaic shelters
20 September 2018
In Dubai is borning a sustainable city powered by renewables
30 August 2018
Tunisia plans to improve its economy and invest in green energy
28 August 2018
MENA Region Solar Energy Oulook 2018
24 July 2018
The Benban Solar Park shines Egypt’s renewable energy targets
17 July 2018
Shams Dubai program and DEWA’s initiatives to increase solar power in Dubai
22 June 2018
Solar power, an optimal source of energy in places where there is lack of water
11 June 2018
How a PV system works?
30 May 2018
Socio-Economics Benefits from Renewable Energies – MENA Region
22 May 2018
What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy?
18 May 2018
The transition to a fully renewable powered energy system in Southeast Asia
14 May 2018
How does solar energy work and how can it be converted into electricity ?
10 May 2018
The transition to a fully renewable powered energy system in Latam
20 April 2018
The transition to a fully renewable powered energy system in the MENA region
30 March 2018
A global transition to 100% renewable electricity is feasible
26 March 2018
Photovoltaic Energy spreads in the emerging economies. Focus on Latam countries
15 February 2018