Smart Energy Technologies & Energy Storage
With the explosive growth of the solar industry and the lack of skilled laborers it is becoming imperative to implement simplified and efficient construction methods. This research focuses specifically on streamlining the design, procurement and installation of electrical systems for utility scale solar power plants. It has been observed that there is currently no standardization of electrical equipment and it is becoming increasingly difficult for electrical engineers to keep up with code changes and new product offerings. Electrical contractors are often required to “figure out” what materials they need from electrical drawings and loosely defined scopes which leads to missed material and project delays. There are often no procedures for managing the material onsite of which some can be over 500 acres. The answer to these issues is as simple as to look over to the other trade onsite – mechanical. When developers or EPCs receive a proposal on a mechanical system they get just that – a system. They aren’t given mechanical drawings and have the responsibility of figuring out where to buy the posts, motors, actuators, etc and their mechanical contractors aren’t responsible for providing the nuts and bolts. The mechanical scope often includes engineering, procurement of components, scheduling and receiving shipments, onsite training and commissioning. Providing a turnkey electrical system that mirrors the scope of the mechanical system would greatly improve efficiency on construction of solar power plants. There would be better accountability and coordination – one point of contact for all electrical material. Engineers would specify material that is readily available and consolidate as much as possible to reduce waste on site. No longer would electrical contractors have to interpret what is needed to build the system – all components needed would be provided by the electrical system provider along with simplified instruction manuals to alleviate the need for highly skilled electricians onsite. This methodology should become the standard for the utility scale solar industry.