Why is it important to have a technical advisor during the construction of a solar PV plant?


When it comes to tackling the construction phase of a renewable energy project, many problems and unforeseen events can arise. The support of a specialised technical advisor, who performs the Owner’s Engineering and guarantees specific quality standards, increasing the productivity of the plant and reducing costs under regulations in force at any given time and place, can make the difference in the final result of a project.

At Vector Renewables, we are aware of this and have a highly qualified team with extensive experience in supervising the construction of renewable projects. Specifically, Vector Renewables' Technical Advisory team has been involved in the design review, construction monitoring and quality control of projects totalling more than 6 GW worldwide. The lessons learned by performing Owner’s Engineering over the past, years are the key to our know-how. That is why, in this post, we have compiled some of the points to take into account when supervising the construction of a photovoltaic solar plant:

  1. Environmental factors. The environmental study of the site where a plant will be built is fundamental to ensure its durability. For example, external agents such as the humidity of more than 80% can cause severe problems in the construction materials, such as increased oxidation in the metallic elements and, therefore, reducing their useful life. This type of damage can also be more accentuated in areas of high environmental aggressiveness, areas close to the coast or places where flooding is likely to occur. Therefore, a previous detailed study of the place where a solar PV plant will be built is essential to avoid this type of difficulty in the future.

  2. Access and unevenness of the terrain. Analysing the access to the land where a project is to be built is also a factor to consider. From the point of view of Owner’s Engineering, it is important that the construction of the project not only complies with quality standards and regulations but also that its construction is operational. For example, a site with slopes steeper than 10% will make access difficult for vehicles transporting the leading equipment.

    In addition, during a construction supervision service, the type of terrain and its hydraulic behaviour will also be analysed, performing a flooding study to place the modules and inverters in the right place and prevent them from being affected in heavy rainy seasons. This analysis will also include details of the internal flows of the terrain, drainage, problems that may exist with the stability of the slopes, durability of the structures, etc.

  3. Analysis of activities near the plant. Another of the functions of the Owner’s Engineering is to verify beforehand that there is no interference in the area with any other type of activity. For example, the existence of construction sites close to the plant can produce dust which, when adhering to the modules, can reduce the production levels of the installation. Similarly, a plant near a mine could be damaged by the projections of materials released after a detonation, causing extensive damage to the solar panels.

  4. Communication systems. One of the most common problems during plant construction is the lack of communication between trackers. Although the telecommunications systems of the different modules are a point that is defined by the manufacturer, a technical advisor will verify that the communication between the different groupings of trackers is optimal, in order to achieve a higher level of production in the plant. It will also be necessary to check that there is a sufficient number of repeaters and, if there is a poor signal or any kind of interference nearby, that it impacts the proper functioning of the plant.

These are just some of the problems that can arise during the construction of a renewable project. To prevent them from happening, Vector Renewables' technical advisory team supports its clients through close monitoring during the project's construction, ranging from remote construction supervision with monthly site visits to 24-hour on-site presence.

Do you need Owner’s Engineering for your project? Give us a call.

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