Solar Construction: How to Prepare Sites for Commissioning
The development and construction of utility-scale solar projects is a comprehensive process that requires careful planning and execution, as well as a great team in place. However, even the most promising projects are not failproof. As a solar project approaches completion, commissioning is an essential step in guaranteeing the system meets all operational requirements and as-built specifications.
Those who have formulated a tried-and-true commissioning process or have a skilled contractor for this essential scope of work are aware of its benefits. However, often, projects hit roadblocks in the final stages, hindering the commissioning process altogether. There can also be miscommunications between field personnel and other parties involved when it comes to a site’s readiness for commissioning.
Before deploying your commissioning agent (whether in-house or 3rd party), you will want to ensure site readiness for commissioning. As a contractor with more than a decade of experience in PV Commissioning, we (Day Electric) suggest considering the following:
Solve problems sooner, rather than later
As an overall rule of thumb, address site issues sooner rather than later. This entails reviewing engineering plan sets throughout the lifespan of the project and having proper checks and balances in place to ensure the proper equipment is being installed according to the engineering plan set and industry standards.
Proper communication from builder and contractors on site
To ensure site readiness for commissioning, confirmation that certain steps have been completed on-site is key before deploying your commissioning team. Just because a milestone SHOULD have been completed according to the timeline, does not mean it HAS been completed. With any complex project, with high stakes and multiple parties involved, communication is the key to success.
Asking “Is the system complete enough to start and finish the commissioning process?”
Although there may be an eagerness to start the commissioning process, it is essential (Especially if using a 3rd party representative) that a site is “complete” enough to not only start the commissioning but finish all that it entails.
A commissioning team will want confirmation that a site is both mechanically and electrically complete before starting the commissioning process.
Some “red flags” that a site is not ready could look like:
No AC power
AC/DC wiring not complete
Punch list items not corrected
Installed Equipment incomplete or inaccurate
Documentation incomplete or inaccurate
Proper Photo Evidence
A photo checklist can be very beneficial for individuals not on site, to ensure that important steps have been completed. This may include photos of:
Grounding in Inverters
Modules attached to racking
DAS Installed and Wired
Stop the blame game-Get a 3rd party involved
If there is anything in question when it comes to mechanical or electrical completion, we suggest getting a 3rd party involved to perform a visual and mechanical inspection of the site. A contractor experienced in this scope can provide you and/or your contractors with a site report and punch list to ensure site readiness for commissioning and the overall assurance that a site is installed and tested according to all engineering documentation and operational requirements. This provides an unbiased overview of the project before a project is complete and transferred to the owner/operator.
If you are looking for 3rd party commissioning services, including a pre-commissioning visual and mechanical inspection of a site, please reach out to Day Electric at firstname.lastname@example.org.