Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals

Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals

Design Optimization, Planning, Procurement & Development

March 27-28, 2024 | Online :: Central Time

“Awesome course! I will use the information I learned today going forward throughout my career.” Business Developer, Engie Canada

“This course is a great way to introduce yourself to the ways the utility industry are incorporating solar power into their service territories and how the plants are designed on large scales.” Substation Engineer, Sargent and Lundy

“Having a basic understanding of solar and having an electrical power industry background, this course delivered the right amount of detail and really took my knowledge to the next level.”  Solar Power Operations & Maintenance Engineer, Southern Company

“Provided an excellent amount of information and tools to evaluate and plan PV resources.” Senior Systems Analyst, Entergy

“My second EUCI event that I experienced deep technical training and in-depth content.” CEO, True South Renewables Inc

“This course expanded greatly on the basic knowledge I already had for the design process of solar fields.” Assistant Project Manager, McCarthy Building Co

“This course was a helpful tool to fill in some of the blanks in my knowledge of solar power plant design.” Estimator, McCarthy Building Co

“Very fluid course – topics are relevant, yet diverse.” Manager, Brookfield Renewable

“Presenters conveyed strong subject matter expertise.” Director – Generation & Optimization, Brookfield Renewable

“Well organized conference that provided basic and advanced information.” Project Manager, Entergy

“I thought the session was very good and on task to help me learn more about utility-grade solar.” Senior Energy Conservation Specialist, Florida Public Utilities

“Great intro course to the industry!” Senior Electrical Engineer, Acciona Energy

“Great program! Highly recommended!” Technical Director, ICF

“Very beneficial for people in the renewable energy industry, regardless of experience level.” Solar Development, E.ON North America

“Very informative. Well worth the two days of time spent. Years of experience taught in a few hours.” Engineer II, Hawaiian Electric

“Informative, well-experienced speakers.” Utilities Engineer, CA Public Utilities Comm’n

“Great attendee number to encourage collaboration and shared experience.’ Engineer – Generation Planning, AECC

“This course hit all the key topics to provide an individual with a good foundation in solar plant design and development. Coming from the O&M world, I was happy to hear the speakers point out the key considerations you need to make in order to ensure your building or buying a plant that can stand the test of time and be able to perform as you expect it to. I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned here to provide better feedback and informed suggestions to my company’s generation development team.” Engineer, Southern Company

“Excellent program to provide decision-makers the right level of knowledge to ask critical questions and arrive at well-informed decisions.” Director, Bear Valley Electric Service

“Better-than-intro-level to PV EPC considerations.” Senior Project Manager, Avangrid Renewables

“Good, comprehensive overview of solar power plants. Everything is covered from technology overview, financial modeling, to O&M.” Senior Project Engineer, Indeck Energy

“EUCI offers insightful, comprehensive training that the PV industry has been in desperate need of. A great event to attend for a wide range of experience levels.” E&C Manager, Sonnedix

“I knew very little coming into this event, but am walking away with very valuable knowledge, which I believe will benefit my colleagues and company. Great speakers!” Business Support Analyst, Entergy Services

“Excellent opportunity to meet fellow engineers in solar.” Field Applications Engineer, SolarEdge

“Knowledgeable industry experts that convey course materials at a level most useful to attendees.” Engineer, Georgia Transmission Corp

“This course offers a good knowledge base for pursuing solar projects.” Metering and Sustainable Electricity Manager, Saskatoon Light & Power

“Great course for anyone who wants to learn more about this ever-changing industry!” Assistant Director – Hydropower, Colorado River Commission of Nevada

“EUCI finds really good topic presenters!” Product Management, NB Power

“Excellent content for large scale solar installation education.” Manager, AMPT

“Great training content and exceptional speakers.” Technical and Development Manager, Elawan Energy

“Excellent presentation by knowledgeable speakers.” Manager – Technical Services, FirstEnergy

“As a newcomer to the solar industry, the EUCI Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals presentations helped me better understand concepts from the function of PV cells to the larger picture of utility scale projects development and economics, a very well organized set of presentations by interesting presenters.” Assistant Engineer, Olsson

“The course provided a tremendous amount of detail and left me thinking of all the follow-up actions I can take to improve our business practices.” Manager – Power Supply, Wolverine Power Cooperative

“The speakers did a phenomenal job at presenting digestible information on complex subject matter.” Assistant Engineer, Olsson

“Being new to the industry, EUCI did a great job harmonizing jargon and basic principles while still allowing for advanced principles to be discussed and understood, no matter the current level of expertise of the attendee” Associate Development Manager, Enerfin

Utility-scale solar power plants now constitute the largest number of facilities under development in the power sector.  Industry experts confirm that trend will hold and even accelerate as the demand for renewable energy resources escalates. Thus, the pool is expanding of project developers, investors and utilities who must understand how to plan, develop, and interconnect these plants to the existing electric grid.

This course is designed to familiarize attendees with:

  • The key elements of planning solar power plant resources
  • Design and development elements
  • An understanding of component function and selection
  • Site selection
  • Operational optimization

Register today to benefit from a broad review of development and capital cost deployment coupled with energy production modeling techniques that will provide course participants with the basics of cost-of-energy analysis and how design decisions can impact overall plant economics. Solar industry practitioners will also review procurement best practices, along with design and equipment procurement considerations to reduce risk for asset owners.

Learning Outcomes  

Attendees at this course will:  

  • Discuss the fundamentals of solar utility-scale generation and its distinctive requirements on transmission and distribution systems  
  • Review fundamental design and system integration requirements of utility-scale and large-scale commercial solar projects  
  • Assess cost estimating and EPC considerations
  • Evaluate independent engineer’s (IE) role and functions
  • Examine energy modeling fundamentals
  • Analyze design optimization considerations
  • Evaluate risk assessment, risk allocation, and performance guarantees
  • Describe third-party installation review, testing and commissioning
  • Identify procurement considerations
  • Assess resource planning for solar and technological advances
  • Define core financial modeling elements


Wednesday, March 27, 2024 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In and Welcome

12:45 – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Course Timing

9:00 – 9:20 a.m. :: Overview and Introductions

9:20 – 11:00 a.m. :: Solar Building Blocks

  • History of solar technologies and industry overview
  • Line diagram of PV plant
  • Photovoltaic solar modules
  • DC electrical – string and conductor sizing, protection
  • Inverter types and design considerations
  • AC collection and system protection
  • Transformers
  • Power plant control (SCADA) and monitoring
  • Other BOS components
  • PV math – data sheet on components

11:00 – 11:15 a.m. :: Morning Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. :: Power Plant Design & Engineering Component Evaluation/Specification/Optimization

  • Site studies
  • DC design
  • AC and medium voltage collection
  • High voltage and interconnect
  • SCADA and instrumentation
  • Spacing design
  • GIS
  • Inverter loading and tradeoffs
  • Row spacing and tradeoffs
  • Metrics and myths for evaluating optimal plant designs – lowest cost of energy and AC capacity factors
  • Procurement considerations
  • Evaluating storage

12:45 – 1:30 p.m. :: Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. :: Engineering, Testing and Commissioning Process and Timeline

This presentation will address the elements of an independent (owner’s) engineer’s role and the related concept of commissioning and how they should be executed:

  • Development phase support
  • Permitting phase support
  • Interconnection request support
  • EPC request for proposal (RFP) support
  • Construction/commissioning support
  • Support during operations
  • Verify applicable equipment and systems are installed according to the contract documents, manufacturer’s recommendations and industry accepted minimum standards
  • Verify contractors perform adequate operation checkout
  • Verify, document proper performance of equipment, systems
  • Verify that the operations and maintenance (O&M) documentation left on-site is complete
  • Verify owner’s operating personnel are adequately trained

3:00 – 3:15 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. :: Essential Data Collection for Successful Development of a Solar Project

  • Typical questions for development
  • Key Data Collecting Activities
  • Geotechnical Evaluation
    • Soil tests
    • Pile testing
    • Preliminary vs. Final
    • Report Content
  • Land Survey
    • Topographic survey
    • Time considerations
    • ALTA survey
  • Site Constraints
    • Streams/Wetlands
    • FEMA Floodplain
    • Environmentally sensitive areas
    • Site access
    • Slope Analysis
    • Standard Setbacks

4:45 p.m. :: Program Adjourns for Day


Thursday, March 28, 2024 : Mountain Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In and Welcome

12:45 – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Course Timing

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. :: Energy Modeling Fundamentals

  • Overview of available modeling tools
  • Evaluating weather data
  • Module mounting and shading
  • Overview of modeling losses
  • Mechanics of generating an accurate energy model
  • Energy tests, capacity tests, and performance guarantees
  • Review of energy production inputs
  • Overview of operational costs

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:45 – 11:45 a.m. :: Cost Estimating and EPC Considerations

  • Site screening – what makes a cheap solar site?
    • Terrain and soil conditions
    • Hydrological impacts
    • Environmental mitigation
    • Labor and site access
    • Interconnection location
  • Site surveys to reduce site risk
  • Construction permitting
  • Costs associated with the power system
    • Civil works and site preparation
    • Modules and DC collection
    • Inverters and AC collection
    • HV and substation
    • Other balance of system/plant costs
  • “Soft” costs
  • Supplier considerations
  • Module warranty and degradation
  • Quality, reliability and testing protocols
  • Role of third-party certifications
  • Inspection services

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. :: Solar + Storage

  • Drivers
  • Configurations
    • AC-coupled
    • DC-coupled
  • Site considerations
  • Equipment considerations
    • Components
    • Technologies
    • Electronics
    • Package solutions
  • Solar + storage design and planning sequence

12:45 – 1:30 p.m. :: Group Lunch   

1:30 – 2:45 p.m. :: Procurement & Supply Chain Considerations

  • Supplier considerations
  • Module warranty and degradation
  • Quality, reliability and testing protocols
  • Role of third-party certifications
  • Inspection services
  • Crafting the RFP solicitation
  • Responding to RFP solicitations
  • IRR, NPV and other metrics

    2:45 – 3:00 p.m. :: Afternoon Break 

    3:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Thinking with the End in Mind: Linking PV Plant Design Considerations to O&M

    This segment explores linkages between key decisions made during the initial design phase and their impact on life cycle operations and maintenance (O&M) costs to better inform “thinking with the end in mind.” Given the accelerating investment in solar PV by electric utilities — and their emphasis towards holistic costs over the life of the plant, as compared to maximizing return on upfront capital expenditures — this is an increasingly important aspect in optimizing solar power plant design.  Yet, sound advice is not always followed.  Therefore, the discussion will also consider the consequences on an operating basis of how to deal with plant condition and performance issues when the design and development team doesn’t follow O&M team guidance.  And, it will examine how the O&M team can effectively communicate its preferences to the design and development team in a fashion that can may circumvent the internal minefields that sometimes bedevil inconvenient truths. 

    4:30 p.m. :: Course Adjournment


    Joshua Ahrens, Project Manager – Power Generation, Burns & McDonnell

    Josh Ahrens is Solar Engineering Manager at Burns & McDonnell.  He has more than 13 years of experience in project and engineering management as well as structural engineering for conventional power and photovoltaic solar power projects. Mr. Ahrens has managed multiple concurrent and complicated projects supported by local and non-local Burns & McDonnell staff.  Mr. Ahrens’ experience in the energy industry including both conventional and renewable power projects starting with his support of a large Air-Quality Control Project, leading into several utility-scale solar projects and most recently managing the development, permitting and implementation of a multi-unit gas turbine new generation project for Arizona Public Service.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Arizona State University and a master’s degree in engineering management at the University of Colorado.

    Matthew Brinkman, Vice President & Regional Practice Manager – Energy, Burns & McDonnell

    Matthew Brinkman is Vice President & Regional Practice Manager for Energy at Burns & McDonnell.  In that capacity, starting in 2008, he led the company’s entrance into the solar market.  His team of nearly 100 multi-disciplinary engineers, has more than 15GW of experience in Solar as Owners’ Engineer, Detailed Design, and Integrated EPC execution. 

    Kyle Burns, PV Senior Electrical Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

    Kyle Burns is a Senior Electrical Engineer in the Solar Energy Group at Burns & McDonnell. He previously worked an active NASA mission prior to pivoting focus to renewables where he has 10 years of experience in the solar industry. Mr. Burns leads the PV electrical design of various solar EPC projects contracted by Burns & McDonnell. In addition, Mr. Burns has been the technical lead for equipment selection and procurement of inverters, DC and MV cable, and DC collection systems for various utility-scale PV projects. Mr. Burns other areas of expertise include detailed electrical PV system design, PV System owners engineering, battery energy storage design, PV plant performance analysis and project management.

    J.Tanner Dowell, Senior Civil Engineer & Solar Civil Design Lead, Burns & McDonnell

    Tanner Dowell is a Senior Civil Engineer & Solar Civil Design Lead with Burns & McDonnell and has worked in the solar industry for more than 15 years. His current role is the Solar Civil Design Lead responsible for the planning, oversight, quality, and construction coordination required for integrating the civil design on solar projects and pursuits for the entire company. Mr. Dowell has led the civil design for over 1 GW of executed solar EPC projects and has supported more than 10GW of solar development as Owners Engineer. He also has extensive experience in early site development, evaluating grading and civil cost impacts of different technologies, and working with municipalities on land use permitting across the country.

    Martin Gonzalez, PV Senior Electrical Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

    Martin Gonzalez is a senior electrical engineer in the Solar Group at Burns & McDonnell. He has nearly two decades of experience in a variety of roles related to the design and construction of PV systems.  Mr. Gonzalez has been responsible for the design of residential, commercial, and utility scale PV systems, in addition to various other renewable energy projects. He provides on-site support for the installation, testing, and commissioning of PV systems and PV system monitoring equipment.  He has worked on some of the largest and most lauded solar projects in the nation, including serving as the the owner’s engineer on the largest solar PV project in the United States – the 580-MW Solar Star.  Mr. Gonzalez has developed a strong understanding of PV system design and operation, equipment selection, electrical installation best practices. He assists with PV system troubleshooting, testing, and maintenance, in addition to performing design reviews in an owner’s engineering role.

    Torrey Graf, Vice President – Engineering, FastGrid LLC

    Torrey Graf is Vice President of Engineering at FastGrid LLC, which he joined in 2022.  He has 12 years of electrical engineering experience across both traditional power and utility scale solar generation, as well as deep experience in large scale energy storage. In addition to building and leading multidisciplinary teams at Burns & McDonnell, Mr. Graf has served as engineering and project manager on more than 4GW of solar and 2GW of energy storage projects across the United States. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Arizona State University.

    Tyler Hogle, Construction Manager, Burns & McDonnell

    Tyler Hogle is a Construction Manager at Burns & McDonnell in the firm’s Construction/Design-Build Group.  His more than 7 years of experience includes site management as well as the planning and execution of direct hire and sub-contract strategy. He has managed the pre-construction and onsite construction in excess of 650 MW of power generation, with 250 MW of that being solar generation. Mr. Hogle coordinates with architecture, engineering, and procurement throughout the construction process for various energy production and commercial project sites.

    Lynsey Tibbs, Director – Asset Management, Silicon Ranch

    Lynsey Tibbs is Director of Asset Management at Silicon Ranch. She has a decade and a half experience as an engineer in the energy sector.  Skilled in power generation with a focus on solar energy, specifically managing nearly a gigawatt of installed solar.  Ms. Tibbs is versed in project and contractor management having overseen one-half billion dollars of solar installations.  Besides her role in solar project implementation, she also has served the company as a solar project engineer and forecast analyst.  Before joining the organization, she was Solar Operations Project Manager at Southern Power Company.


    We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

    • Microsoft recommends downloading and installing the Teams app if possible. You may also use the Edge browser or Chrome.
    • You will receive a separate email with a unique link to a personalized landing page which will include links to join all sessions of this event.
    • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
    • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


    EUCI is pleased to offer this hybrid course, which will be conducted in-person and simultaneously live-streamed through its on-line interactive Teams platform.

    Please Note: This event is being conducted entirely online. All attendees will connect and attend from their computer, one connection per purchase. For details please see our FAQ

    If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all attendees for 7 days after the event


    Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals

    March 27-28, 2024 | Online
    Individual attendee(s) - $ 1295.00 each

    Volume pricing also available

    Individual attendee tickets can be mixed with ticket packs for complete flexibility

    Pack of 5 attendees - $ 5,180.00 (20% discount)
    Pack of 10 attendees - $ 9,065.00 (30% discount)
    Pack of 20 attendees - $ 15,540.00 (40% discount)

    Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours in advance of the event. Cancellations must be received on or before February 23, 2024 in order to be refunded and will be subject to a US $195.00 processing fee per registrant. No refunds will be made after this date. Cancellations received after this date will create a credit of the tuition (less processing fee) good toward any other EUCI event. This credit will be good for six months from the cancellation date. In the event of non-attendance, all registration fees will be forfeited. In case of conference cancellation, EUCIs liability is limited to refund of the event registration fee only. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as complaints and refunds, please contact our offices at 303-770-8800

    Registration & Attendance Criteria

    This course is open to utilities, power and energy industry operating companies, software vendors, consumer groups, and regulators only.  Registrations that do not meet this criteria or that may be construed as a competitive conflict will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and may not qualify for attendance.  Any determination as to the fulfillment of a registration to attend this program shall reside solely with EUCI.  Questions re: the application of this restriction can be addressed to [email protected].




    EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

    EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.3 CEUs for this course.

    Instructional Methods

    PowerPoint presentations and test cases will be used to present course information.

    Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

    Participants must log in each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

    Upon successful completion of this event, program participants interested in receiving CPE credits will receive a certificate of completion.

    Course CPE Credits: 15.0
    There is no prerequisite for this Course.
    Program field of study: Specialized Knowledge
    Program Level: Basic
    Delivery Method: Group Internet Based
    Advanced Preparation: None

    CpeEUCI is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its web site: www.nasbaregistry.org