Category: Utility Scale Generation
With the steady cost reduction of major components, site preparation and drainage cost gain more relevance due to both, its direct (i.e. labor, materials and equipment) and indirect (i.e. land cost, general conditions, temporary facilities... all project time dependent cost elements) impact to the original budget.
Site preparation or site grading is a complex task which quantity (and cost) are directly depending on the single axis tracker's (SAT) tolerances to uneven terrain/slope. SAT could have slope tolerances as low as 3% or as high as 15%, there at least 40 different tracker manufacturers in the market, each with difference tolerances.
Typical preliminary grading plans may take between 2 and 10 days to be completed, depending on project's and site's characteristics; this task is done manually and typically relays in the Civil engineer's (CE) experience, time and development/proposal budget; typically a CE will run one or maybe two iterations when preparing a preliminary grading plan in the time indicated above.
Due to its complexity (i.e. advanced expensive software plus need of experienced Civil Engineers); most Developers and/or EPC firms decisions about site preparation budget allocation and which tracker to use are not comprehensively analyzed; leaving many times tracker price as the main driver for tracker selection, ignoring a host of indirect costs that will have similar or grater cost impact.
With the software we are developing, the preliminary grading process could be automated and performed i nfew hours rather than days by a fraction of the typical cost. This results can be used mainly to support to key decisions:
A) If tracker was already procured: will help to identify how best breach down site area such that earth moving work could be divided out to meet CUP requirements and/or project execution/supply chain constraints.
B) If tracker has not been bought: the tool could be to identify optimum surfaces for competing trackers as wells as the amount of earth work (cubic yards) needed for each product; which will not only highlight direct cost differences (i.e. labor, equipment, columns lengths, etc) but also indirect cost impacts (i.e. larger amounts of earth work implying larger project duration, triggering increased cost for al time dependent cost elements).
The audience who would benefit for this presentation should consist of any one responsible for performing any of the following project activities: procurement, cost estimating, technical due diligence, project planning & controls, M&A, engineering, tracker manufacturers.
Miguel Silva– Co Founder, Geo Future LLC