Solar power plants have been seen in growing numbers all over the world as there is a rise in solar demand globally by over 150% in 2010. The solar plants that are built on the floor differ from the ones that are set up on the roofs of the houses. The reasons include environmental assessment, feasibility, grid connection and siting among others. The residential solar installation built on rooftop is built in time less than the time required to build a solar plant project. Solar farms are usually built in countries that have subsidy programs such as tax rebates and feed in tariffs. Nevertheless, constructing a solar plant has become easy not like the past. Today solar inverters, solar panels and installation experts are available quite easily. However, the regulations and permits required for constructing a solar plant differs in every country and region depending upon federal as well as the state laws. The smaller the dimension of the installation, the lesser number of regulations are required.
Building a solar plant needs to follow certain steps. Here are the steps that you will need to follow to build a solar power plant.
1. Site identification
The first and foremost thing you need to do is identify an appropriate site for constructing the plant. You need to take care that the area you select is not a densely forested one and offer simple access to the roads as well as the power grid.
2. Preliminary financial analysis
You also need to make a financial analysis regarding the costs that you will incur in the project. Make a list of all the preliminary financial feasibility along with inputs, such as the land costs, solar installation and interconnection possibility with the power grid operator.
3. Land leasing or buying
Once you are done with earlier 2 steps, you can begin with the land acquisition which can be done through lease or ownership formalities.
4. Basic engineering design/technology selection
Next step is to get an engineering layout made. Also make the selection of the solar equipment technology as well as vendors.
This step involves several permitting procedures to be done. These steps are particular to an area and sometimes can be burdensome. For instance, in the USA, permitting includes incurring heavy costs that form around 15-20% of the solar projectsâ cost.
6. Power purchase agreement
A power purchase agreement (PPA) should be signed along with the power utility, which will buy electricity.
7. Selection of EPC
Now you also need to select a system integrator or an EPC contractor. After you select an EPC contractor, you will need to purchase mounting, solar panels as well as inverters. You also need to finance the project. You need to note that solar power plants need elevated initial investment with low O and M costs. Usually most of these projects are 60 to 80% debt financed.
9. Testing and connection to grid
Once the building of the solar plants is completed, you need to test the Plant before you are connecting it to power grid. This should be done to avoid any mistakes.
10. Ongoing O and M
The solar plant has a considerably long life between 25-30 years. It also needs minimum maintenance as well as monitoring. After 10 to 15 years, you will need to replace the solar inverters. If the solar module fails, you will have to replace it as and then as it will degrade the functioning of other solar panels.
The given steps are the basic procedure followed to install a solar powered project. You can also further refine them into additional steps.
Building a solar plant involves project management skills that are typical for any industrial project with exceptional characteristics. The above noted steps are a simple procedures stating how you go about building a solar plant. The process will need more of detailed as well as perfect execution skills. It takes around 3 months to over 2 years in building a solar plant, depending on the permitting and the expertise required. If you are considering about constructing a solar thermal plant, then note that it will make much more time than a construction of a solar plant. A solar thermal plant will take about 3 to 5 years for building.