For the last two years, GEFF in Armenia has been successfully conducting its activities in the financing of “Green investments” and the first stage of the programme is now almost at an end. Among the various financed investments, the GEFF in Armenia has played a significant role in developing solar energy usage and in particular the financing of solar PV projects. Overall, GEFF has supported and financed more than 160 investment projects related to the construction of solar power plants with a total installed capacity of 26.7 MW. Although the high number of investments has led to very positive results for investors as well as for the country’s power generation segment, our experience has shown that such technically complex projects contains potential risks with regard to the construction of plants. Based on the lessons learned regarding typical errors and possible solutions, we have summarised here the most important tips and recommendations which may be useful for those of you who plan to invest in solar PV projects:
Choose a reliable supplier. The PV supplier is key for the implementation of the whole project and for the operational stability of the system. First of all, check the suppliers’ experience as well as their reputation in the market. A conscientious PV supplier should be able to provide the customer with a transparent commercial offer including a forecast of annual electricity production levels. It is also recommended to select suppliers who will themselves implement the main installation work (own staff) and will provide a guarantee for the subsequent performance of the system and overall system functionality.
Avoid objects that cause shade and ensure correct spacing between panels. Close spacing between PV panel rows and the existence of objects that throw shadows can reduce annual production by 30% or more. It is recommended to give preference to suppliers who conduct a detailed design and assessment of the actual shading factors present at the client’s site and include them in the simulation of the plant’s projected production levels.
Ensure proper electrical safety. Neglecting to use proper grounding and protection devices, even though they may be “invisible” in everyday life, leads not only to a decrease in solar plant performance, but can also seriously damage your equipment and electrical appliances and – most importantly – it can constitute a serious threat to human health and safety. It is therefore vital that all electrical work should be in line with electricity safety standards and manufacturers guidelines.
Pay attention to quality of mechanical installations and structural materials. Mistakes in mechanical installation and inappropriate structural material selection may lead to equipment damage and loss (due to wind, snow, etc.). The overall weight-bearing structure should be static and all placements and connections should be undertaken in accordance with current construction standards and manufacturers guidelines. This can be ensured by choosing a supplier who has experienced engineers in the field of structural construction.
If you are planning to invest in solar PV stations, please bear in mind that your investment may be a one-off, but you will benefit from the output for a long time to come. Therefore, in summarising the above-mentioned tips and recommendations, we can confidently say that a proper approach to the implementation of your planned investment will not only ensure the stable functionality of the system, but – more importantly – it will give you all the long lasting benefits of solar energy use.
The use of solar energy is also gaining popularity in Georgia. Due to recently implemented changes in regulations, only during 2020 the number of solar power plants in Georgia has increased by 40%. Consequently, the experience of GEFF in Armenia can prove beneficial to investors interested in carrying our solar energy projects, especially in a growing solar power market, where the number of suppliers is also increasing.
For those interested in renewable energy and solar energy in particular, GEFF in Georgia is organising “Opportunities of using Solar Energy” training session, that will take place on TBC Bank’s business training platform, on December 16, 15:00. Join our training session and find out about the latest regulatory changes, available solar technologies and the benefit solar energy offers to businesses and individuals.
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