The engineering, procurement and construction of a photovoltaic system might seem an easy activity since a PV plant is made up of different electrical components connected together and there is almost no use of moving mechanical parts.
This is not true and it is important to choose a serious and experienced solar EPC contractor for the installation of the PV plant. Quality and attention in all engineering, procurement and construction phases of a photovoltaic system are fundamental to guarantee a state-of-the-art work.
One of the most important things to take into account is to choose a solar EPC contractor who has already demonstrated a consolidated experience in the installation of photovoltaic systems, both in terms of time and installed capacity.
Engineering (and Project Management)
A qualified solar EPC contractor must have a certified engineering and project management office with professional engineers able to follow the single project from the authorisation phase to the commissioning and connection of the PV plant.
It is fundamental to comply with local (e.g. CEI standards for Italy) and international regulations (ISO for technical regulations and IEC for electrical regulations) to guarantee a state-of-the-art project.
To be proactive and anticipate possible problems, it is also very important to:
make a careful identification and assessment of possible risks, implementing an action plan
combine work time tracking with periodic assessments of the actual status of the expected results as well as of the expenses incurred (earned value)
generally, follow the best practices of project management.
Example of a Gantt chart for planning a set of activities over a certain period of time
The quality of all the PV components is a very important aspect in order to ensure the best performance over time. A qualified solar EPC contractor carefully selects the various components, relying on certified providers and international forwarders, ensuring in this way the best price, reliability and cost ratio.
A low-quality solar PV component can fail more frequently, cause electrical problems that could damage other components and reduce the whole energy efficiency of the PV system. Some brands of low-quality photovoltaic panels may show an excessive reduction in energy production after only a few years of operation.
Shipping and transportation for the solar energy industry involve careful handling of equipment and sometimes the movement of oversized goods. Careful planning around transportation for oversized goods is needed for large-scale projects such as the establishment of a utility-scale solar power plant. To minimise costs, all the different components must arrive on schedule, demanding communication and coordination between several parties to make sure everything comes together on time and within budget.
The quality of the assembly and of the electrical connections is also very important and must be performed by qualified personnel and by certified subcontractors approved by the solar EPC contractor.
For example, slow connections between photovoltaic modules, badly laid solar cables or without proper protections can cause fires. For the same reason, inverters and switchboards must be placed in properly ventilated rooms.
Most common faults are not encountered because of bad practices in one specific step but are a combination or accumulation of actions in different stages or simply due to wrong or inadequate communications between the engineers and the installers.
To avoid this kind of fault, the coordination and planning role of a good project manager is fundamental, as well as specific training for on-site workers for every new project.
It is also important to follow some management aspects and provide a suitable team dedicated to the project, especially for utility scale PV systems:
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
Operation and Maintenance (O&M)
Another important aspect is the ability of the solar EPC contractor to offer a good post-installation service, in order to keep the PV plant in optimal operating conditions. A qualified solar EPC contractor should offer a full O&M service, attentive to the specific needs of the customers, for the entire life of the photovoltaic plant.
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, both for third-party and owned plants. We can offer Italian excellence and innovation by installing projects with high engineering standards, aptitude to problem-solving & flexibility and global experience, proven by over 800 MWp installed and under construction and over 860 MWp under maintenance worldwide.
Enerray, with offices dedicated to all aspects of EPC, is certified ISO 9001:2015 for Quality Management System and OHSAS 18001 for health and safety.