Utility-scale solar is one of the hottest markets in the energy sector right now.
Despite a slump due to the pandemic early in the year, 2020 saw nearly 14 GWdc of utility-scale projects installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. During Q4 2020 alone, developers installed 6.3 GWdc of utility solar, which sets a new record. For reference, that’s more than the total capacity installed in all of 2018.
Meanwhile, 2021 is on track to maintain pace with this rapid growth, with the sector expected to connect 17.2 GW of annual capacity additions.
With utility-scale solar experiencing this surging growth, and the pipeline poised to continue expanding, securing contracts will likely become more competitive. This means developers need every tool at their disposal to stand out and have a better chance to win bids.
Consider these four recommendations for drafting the most realistic and innovative solution at the lowest price point to help win utility-scale solar project proposal bids:
It’s important to plot out the irradiance of the project not just in the present, but over the expected course of a solar installation’s lifetime. The projected irradiance values at a site can vary drastically during the course of 25 years and under a host of real-world conditions.
This is where a detailed P50/P90 analysis comes into play. These analyses use meteorological data and advanced methods to help assess the photovoltaic energy yield of a potential site over a period of time. There are several resources to help with this process, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) freeSystem Advisor Model (SAM).
An often forgotten aspect of a detailed P50/P90 analysis includes using a weather file in the analysis. Using a hybrid approach of both ground-based and satellite-based weather data files can help calculate a more precise irradiance value for the proposed site.
With these values, you can then more accurately calculate the estimated amount of energy production based on the number of modules.
Having a long-term plan in place for operations and maintenance (O&M) for the site’s proposed lifetime can be a wise idea. Regular O&M of the installation helps ensure the PV system operates at optimal performance levels while avoiding energy losses.
This also requires incorporating the associated costs in the initial proposal. Failing to include these costs early on can create big surprises down the road that can negatively impact the system’s internal rate of return.
A third-party O&M company can provide cost-saving measures such as 24/7 system monitoring, coordinate service calls and cover maintenance and repairs for the PV system.
Investors and financiers choosing the winning bid want to know the solar modules used in the installation will perform as expected. This mitigates the chance of risking downtime and delaying a return on investment.
When selecting the modules, be sure to partner with a module manufacturer that has a solid track record of bankability and reliability.
Look for manufacturers that have a Tier 1 bankability rating from market analysts such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). This bankability rating indicates that the manufacturer has the financial strength and business aptitude to remain in business for years to come.
When it comes to reliability, third-party evaluators can provide guidance. For example, DNV GL releases its “Reliability Scorecard” each year, highlightingwhich manufacturers meet their high standards for module reliability.
These ratings and recognitions can ease any project financier worries about module reliability and the manufacturer’s longevity. Ultimately, this helps make investors and financiers more willing to believe in the success of your proposal.
Utility-scale solar projects can be a complicated and tedious process that requires managing multiple vendors, distributors, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and a host of other factors.
Using an all-in-one smart solar solution like TrinaPro helps streamline the installation and boost power gains.
After custom project scoping, the TrinaSolar team designs the system to ensure all major system components are optimized for interoperability. Then, a one-stop procurement process helps guarantee seamless delivery, which reduces the chance of delays and keeps the project on schedule.
An independent assessment showed that TrinaPro’s innovative bundling of ultra-high-power modules and single-axis trackerscan boost energy gains between 3-8 percent.
Ultimately, TrinaPro helps deliver increased power gains that reduce the project’s levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) all while mitigating risks. These savings and higher power gains can help make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful bid.
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