Key Mistakes EPCs Should Avoid

We have compiled below areas where EPCs should tread cautiously.

Infrastructure mistakes

  1. Right of way

Right of way refers to the activity of securing the legal rights to use the land of another person/entity for own use (in this case setting up poles for grid connection to the nearest substation). Since dealing with local land owners can be a time-consuming task, possible delays due to this have to be accounted for while preparing the project implementation schedule.

Solar Mango has even encountered cases where landowners were unwilling to share their land resulting in massive project delays and losses to EPCs developing their own projects

2.Topography of Land

Get to understand the nature of land before giving a quote as land levelling could be a significant expense.

Although, land levelling might seem like a simple activity, it can be an expensive endeavour in certain topographical conditions such as when the terrain is rocky. Therefore, a thorough site assessment has to be performed by the EPC before providing the final quote for the project.

3.Water availability and the type of water

Water requirements for O&M activities such as panel cleaning necessitate the availability of ample water resources at the location. Typically bore wells are dug to source water plant requirements.

Not just the availability but the quality of water also has to be assessed too. Water has to be tested for parameters such as pH level, hardness etc., which can have a significant bearing on the long performance of the solar panels.

4.Clarity on stuff like the type of fencing etc. before you start the work

The EPC has to familiarize the client with the scope of work covered in the quote. When it comes to fencing, chain-link fencing is what is typically offered by EPCs. But, in case the client wants concrete fencing, it can be a costly affair. In order to avoid confusion, the EPC should ensure that this is explicitly mentioned in the quote.

Technology mistakes

  1. Don’t try out new tech outside of crystalline and reliable thin film panels

It can be often tempting to try out new technologies. But in a highly dynamic market, it is safe to go for reputed and tried-out technologies rather than taking a risk with newer technologies.

2. Be careful with inverters that have few installations in India

If the EPC goes for an inverter manufacturer who was a recent entrant into the Indian market, chances are that he doesn’t local service and support at the site you set up the plant or the inverter may not even perform best under Indian conditions.

Even if you go for an inverter manufacturer that has very few installations in India, do perform sufficient due diligence on their reputation, customer responsiveness etc. In this regard, the feedback from existing customers can be of paramount importance.

3. Ensuring Presence at Factory during Production

Most EPCs do not ensure their presence at the module manufacturer’s factory to test the modules before they are dispatched to the site. EPCs should go the extra mile to ensure that EL tests, flash test, etc. are conducted at the factory before shipment of modules

Additionally, there is a need to verify the modules at the sub-component level. It is essential to check the branding of the EVA, back sheet, glass etc. This can go a long way in ensuring plant integrity.

4.Galvanising of the mounting structures

Solar Mango has encountered cases where some EPCs compromised on the design of mounting structures. Instead of having a thickness of at least 80 microns for the galvanized structure, they had reduced it to probably 60 microns. Such practices can only spell disaster for the EPC as well as the client.

Often, vendors who are sub-contracted the job of doing this can disregard providing this optimum thickness thereby causing unexpected structural failure.

Therefore, EPCs must take the initiative of being physically present at the premises while the galvanization is done and catch any malpractice in the process.

5.More than just traditional inverter-based monitoring systems

 On monitoring systems, it will be a good idea to look at a more comprehensive SCADA systems. Typically, EPCs go with an inverter-based monitoring system. But remote monitoring solutions which provide string-level and modular-monitoring can make sure that the EPC is well-equipped to handle any difficult-to-monitor energy losses.

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