All solar EPCs look the same in the beginning. Most of them seem to be the same even during the power plant implementation. It is when the power plant starts operating that you see how a poor quality EPC has robbed your power plant of a number of functionalities.

Here’s a list of performance aspects that could be compromised in your solar power plant by an average or a poor quality EPC:

  • Shading losses: Not incorporating shading into the layout design of the power plant can account for 10-20% of losses in a solar plant. Spending good time doing a thorough design of the plant layout will avoid shading losses.
  • Corrosion in mounting structure: As an example, EPC may specify optimum specs for hot dip galvanized steel in their quote, but while subcontracting it out to another vendor, the galvanization layer might not be thick enough leading to structural failures after just a few years. A high quality EPC in this case will be proactive in ensuring procurement of optimum galvanized structure
  • Cable sizing methods: Sometimes, an EPC will conveniently under-sizing the cables, with respect to the plant output, to reduce costs.
  • DC size: An excellent EPC gets this right for the developer by analyzing not just the technical side but also the commercial side to get the best revenues at reduced costs.
  • DC-side SCADA monitoring: This is one factor that is not emphasized by an average EPC which just goes for an inverter –level monitoring system. Analytics on the DC side, e.g. string-level monitoring, implemented by a good EPC can lead to big improvements in revenue losses.
  • More scrutiny of components: A good EPC will give a good thought to the individual components for good long-term performance of the plant. E.g., having canopies over the string inverters will prevent damage from rain.
  • Quality of modules: A few EPCs will take the extra effort of visiting the module manufacturer’s facility to witness the testing and pre-shipment inspection of modules. Similarly, only a few will make the extra effort to take look at the module manufacturing at the component level, that is, what’s the quality of the ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), backsheet and glass that’ve been used in the modules.

You might want to check out these questions too

  • What are the different kinds of solar EPCs? – Here
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of a solar EPC? – Here
  • How many EPCs are there in India? – Here
  • Solar EPC in India – Roles, Value Chain, Companies, Cost – Here
  • Solar EPC Contracts – Terms & Conditions, Formats – Here
  • What is the need for choosing the right EPC? – Here
  • Should I go for a small EPC or a large EPC? – Here
  • What are the critical characteristics of an EPC I should be most concerned about? – Here