Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Design Fundamentals
August 7-8, 2017
Cambridge, MA

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Overview

Utility-scale power plants are increasingly the development of choice in the solar arena.  Industry experts confirm that trend will hold and perhaps even accelerate into the future as the demand for renewable energy resources escalates. Moreover, the average size of utility-scale plants — starting at, say, 5 MW and going to 500 MW — is enlarging also.  Thus, the pool is expanding of utilities, developers and investors who must understand how these power plants are planned, operate and interconnect with the existing electric grid. 

This course is designed to familiarize attendees with the key elements of solar power plant design and development, including an understanding of system criteria, component function and selection, power flow through the plant, and interconnection requirements with the distribution utility and the power grid. Instructors will examine the selection of PV module and mounting/racking systems, as well as other balance of system (BOS) components.  A broad review of site preparation and development costs will also be addressed.  Energy prediction, assessment and modeling elements, as well as technology and EPC evaluation approaches, and RFP process best practices will be examined.   

At the conclusion of the program, attendees should have a sound understanding of the important elements that serve as the foundation of utility-scale PV plant development and design.   

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  
  • Define the components of a solar power plant and identify their respective functions  
  • Discuss the function of the inverter between the DC and AC sides of the plant and its role in regulating power to the interconnection   
  • Examine grid interconnection requirements   
  • Assess energy prediction tools, methodologies and applications  
  • Discuss equipment and component selection criteria and processes  
  • Evaluate control systems and software needed to balance variable power output to grid interconnection  

Credits

AP_Logo

EUCI has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  In obtaining this accreditation, EUCI has demonstrated that it  complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider status, EUCI is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.3 CEUs for this course and 0.6 CEUs for the workshop.

 

Instructional Methods

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

Requirements for Successful Completion Of Program

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

Agenda

Monday, August 7, 2017

7:30 – 8:00 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast   

8:00 – 8:15 a.m. :: Overview and Introductions


8:15 – 10:00 a.m. :: The Solar Building Blocks 

  • Overview of technologies  
    • PV panels and racking  
    • DC electrical  
    • Inverters/transformers  
    • AC collectors  
    • Power plant control (SCADA) and grid integration  
  • Designing the DC system   
    • Photovoltaics 101  
    • Sizing panels and configuration for site  
    • DC system protection  
    • Cabling to inverter
  • Designing the AC system   
    • Collector system overview   
    • Power flow analysis and conductor sizing  
    • Collector layout and installation  
    • System grounding  
    • Substation  

10:00 – 10:20 a.m. :: Morning Break


10:20 – 11:45 a.m. :: The Solar Building Blocks (cont’d)

  • Inverter types and topologies   
    • Inverter types, equipment and modules  
    • DC connections  
    • Inverter grid monitoring and controls  
    • Maximizing output – Best practices  
    • The role and future of “smart” inverters with advanced (and currently restricted) functionalities  
  • Other Balance of System components
  • Interconnecting PV to the Grid  
    • Interconnection agreements and studies  
    • Connection locations and impact on costs  

11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon


1:00 – 2:00 p.m. :: Site, Engineering and Other Balance of System Aspects

  • Terrain 
  • Proximity to distribution/transmission system(s) 
  • Permitting issues and timeline 
  • Mounting/racking design and assembly  
  • Access to modules 
  • Construction staging 
  • Geotechnical considerations

2:00 – 3:15 p.m. :: Technology Selection – Quality, Equipment Warranties, and Performance Guarantees 

  • Performance metrics 
  • Performance tests 
  • Performance guarantees 
  • Types of metrics and adjustments 
  • Capacity tests 
  • RFP and PPA specifications 

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. :: Afternoon Break 


3:30 – 4:30 p.m. :: Component Quality and Reliability 

  • Industry metrics 
  • Module and power plant 
  • Components  
  • Testing 
  • Supplier vetting 
  • O&M 
  • Project “life

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. :: Thinking with the End in Mind: Linking PV Plant Design Considerations to O&M

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 presentation qualitatively 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.” Illustrative decisions include the effects of row spacing, racking and tracking choices, cable management solutions, soiling and vegetation management approaches, data monitoring and communications set up, inverter selection and engineering, inverter loading ratio (i.e., high DC:AC ratios), and others.  Overarching findings are intended to convey a better understanding of a PV plant’s long-term ownership costs — which include both CAPEX and OPEX considerations — to inform future utility investments and maximize their economic value. The presentation will also reflect on ways to improve upon future plant designs, based on learnings from existing lessons shared by a range of solar practitioners, and offer insights into future plant build and acquisition strategies.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

7:45 – 8:15 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast 


8:15 – 9:15 a.m. :: Energy Assessment and Prediction

  • Solar power assessment 
  • Energy estimation 
  • Insolation forecast 
  • Module and mounting aspects 
  • Soiling and snow loss 
  • Ambient ecosystem, environmental and atmospheric conditions 
  • Predictive modeling and development analysis 
  • Energy assessment and other advanced topics 
  • Data sourcing and collection reflecting 24/7 operation 
  • Environmental, weather and other ambient conditions 
  • Modeling assumptions 
  • Power factor, inverters and energy model 
  • Uncertainty 
  • Bankability 

9:15 – 10:30 a.m. :: Resource Planning and Solar Modeling that Adjusts to Improving Technologies

  • Accurately assessing solar resources in the enterprise long-range plan 
  • Resource planning best practices
  • Data and modeling assumption improvement options 
  • RFP designs and specifications to ensure “apples-to-apples” evaluations 
  • Technology advances 
  • Trade-offs offered by more sophisticated tracker systems 
  • Outlook and value proposition for solar+storage implementation  

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. :: Morning Break


10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. :: Cost Estimating 

  • Costs associated with the power system  
    • Modules  
    • Inverters  
    • Electronics   
    • Balance of System costs  
    • Other components  
    • “Soft” costs
    • Labor  
  • Procurement / logistics
  • Acquisition and siting elements  

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. :: Group Luncheon 


1:30 – 2:45 p.m. :: Third-party Installation Review, Testing and Commissioning

Commissioning is a way to formalize quality control of installed PV systems. The commissioning process begins at project inception (during the pre-design phase) and continues through the life of the facility. The commissioning process includes specific tasks to be conducted during each phase in order to verify that design, construction and training meet the owner’s project requirements.  This presentation will address the core elements of commissioning and how they should be executed:

  • Verify that applicable equipment and systems are installed according to the contract documents, manufacturer’s recommendations and industry accepted minimum standards
  • Verify that installing contractors perform adequate operation checkout
  • Verify and document proper performance of equipment and systems
  • Verify that the operations and maintenance (O&M) documentation left on-site is complete
  • Verify that the owner’s operating personnel are adequately trained

2:45 – 4:00 p.m. :: Risk Assessment, Risk Allocation, and Performance Guarantees

  • Risk assessment and identification
    • Best practices
    • Natural hazards
    • Contingent exposures
  • Risk allocation
    • Developer
    • EPC contractor
    • Vendor and supplier
    • Interconnection
    • Customer
    • Lender
  • Insurance market
  • Bonds, surety and guarantees

4:00 p.m. :: Course Adjourns

Workshop

O&M Best Practices

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Overview  

As utility-scale solar installations merge into the generation mainstream, greater attention is turning to solar operations and maintenance. In just a few short years, the technology has matured so rapidly that a solid body of best practices is emerging from the lessons learned.  

This workshop offers a comprehensive treatment of operational processes and maintenance practices that solar owners and asset stakeholders will find essential. It will address the distinctions of scope, scale and responsibilities associated with utility-scale solar installations.  It will delve into the key system components and their critical requirements. Controls management, forecasting, performance engineering and analyses, training and risk assurance metrics are examined in detail. Maintenance measures will be spelled out by function.  And risk exposures, with their commensurate remedies, will be set forth.  

Learning Outcomes   

Attendees will cover materials and engage in discussions that will allow them to:  

  • Define the O&M roles and functions with regard to various types of owners and stakeholders   
  • Review the scope, scale and responsibilities of O&M for the different types of solar installations  
  • Examine the O&M requirements for primary system components  
  • Discuss operations best practices associated with…  
    • Controls  
    • Alarms  
    • Forecasting  
    • Performance engineering and analysis  
    • Compliance and training  
  • Evaluate and apply best practices associated with critical maintenance metrics, such as…
    • Cleaning and vegetation management 
    • Supply chain management  
    • Spares and tools 
    • Warranty enforcement
    • Most common field problems
    • Technology upgrades and longevity
  • Review cost metrics and ranges for O&M in North America

Agenda 

7:45 – 8:15 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast 

8:15 – 8:30 a.m. :: Overview and Introductions


8:30 – 10:00 a.m.  :: O & M / Asset Management Foundations

  • Describing O&M service options, their plusses and minuses
    • Turnkey EPCs
    • Dedicated providers
    • Asset owner (in-house) division
  • Scoping elements
    • Geography
    • Climatic, seasonal and environmental variances
    • Regional and national commonalities and variations
  • Operations and maintenance – Challenges
    • Agreements – not standard within industry
    • Scope of services and responsibility
    • Cost model
    • Protocol for additional services (and cost estimate)
    • Guarantees
      • Performance guarantee may appear in EPC, O&M, or separate agreement
      • LDs for availability shortfalls – availability calculation method critical
    • Equipment warranty lengths
    • Limited experience with aging PV systems
  • What happens when storage is added?
  • Calculating levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in solar

10:00 – 10:30 a.m. :: Morning Break


10:30 – 11:45 a.m. :: PV Plant O&M Practices and Pricing

  • Basis for increasing focus on O&M
  • Scope, applicable scale and responsibilities of power plant contract parties
  • Key factors that frame the O&M budgeting process
    • Employed performance levels and strategies
    • Contractual structures
    • Contract provisos
    • Budget development terms
  • PV budget ranges for O&M components and costs
  • Budgeting process improvement opportunities

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. ::  Group Luncheon


12:45 – 1:45 p.m. :: Operations (O&M) Best Practices

  • Reliability metrics
    • MTBF
    • MTRS
    • Response time
  • Data collection
  • Monitoring
  • System and component performance management and reporting
  • Physical processes 
  • Staffing
  • Controls 
  • Alarms 
  • System enhancement 
  • Testing methods (curve tracing, thermal imaging of connectors/transformers, etc.) 
  • Predictive diagnostics
  • Emergency planning and response
  • Supply chain and protocols
  • Spare parts inventory
  • Curtailment
  • Remote tie-in at switchgear location
  • Weather station(s)
  • Physical security considerations and allowances
  • Establishing and maintaining reserve funds

1:45 – 2:45 p.m. :: Maintenance (O&M) Best Practices

  • Metrics and practices 
    • Diagnostic
    • Preventive 
    • Corrective/reactive 
    • Condition-based 
  • Monitoring systems 
    • Cleaning and vegetation management 
    • Supply chain management 
    • Sub-station  
    • Spares and tools 
    • Useful life and life expectancy  
  • Vehicular/equipment access
  • Safety
  • Warranty enforcement
  • Most common field problems
  • Technology upgrades and longevity

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. :: Afternoon Break


3:00 – 4:00 p.m. :: Managing the O&M Process

  • Documentation
  • Training
  • Execution
  • Work Management
    • Scheduling
    • Access and transparency
    • Equipment
    • Site

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. :: Utility Scale PV Performance Analytics

  • Analytics
  • Reporting
  • Plant health assurance
  • Data quality
  • Plant energy forecasting

5:00 p.m. :: Workshop Adjourns 

Instructors

Matt Brinkman, Solar Business Unit Manager, Burns & McDonnell 

Matthew Brinkman is the Solar Business Unit Manager at Burns & McDonnell.  In that capacity, he is responsible for business development, resource allocation, and business planning related to utility-scale solar projects.  He manages a multi-disciplinary group of 70-plus engineers and directs a $20 million annual budget for utility capital projects.  His team specializes in capital and operations & maintenance projects at existing power plants, and utility-scale solar plants.  Mr. Brinkman’s team has worked on some of the largest and most lauded solar projects in the nation, including serving as the Owner’s Engineer on the largest solar thermal plant in the world (392 MW Ivanpah) and the largest solar PV project in the United States (580 MW Solar Star).  Mr. Brinkman was appointed by Governor Janet Brewer to serve on the Arizona governor’s Solar Advisory Task Force. 

Michael Bolen, Senior Project Manager – Solar Generation, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Michael Bolen is a Senior Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). For the past two years, he has managed EPRI’s Solar Generation team (Program 193C), whose mission is to provide members thought leadership and expert guidance on solar research, development, demonstration, and deployment. The team works on a broad range of activities and time-scales, a cradle-to-grave approach that spans field-testing novel solar technology to assessing end-of-life valuation, disposal, and/or recycling options. Prior to joining EPRI, Mr. Bolen was an Advisor to the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) in the Solar Energy Technology Office for three years, directing the efforts of the SunShot Initiative. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as well, contributing multiple technical innovations. He earned an MBA, M.S. and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

Jeff Gilbert, President, Azimuth Solar

Jeff Gilbert has more than 22 years of experience in the renewable energy industry.  He considers himself a serial entrepreneur, having started and successfully grown three solar companies, one of which was acquired by a large national company in 2008 after hitting Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest growing companies. His experience in the solar industry includes hands-on installation, system design and engineering, project management, project development, operations management, O&M and commissioning, as well as solar training and curriculum development.  Before starting Azimuth Solar, he was Director of Operations and Maintenance Services at Vigilant Energy Management for three yrs.  In 2000 Mr. Gilbert co-founded Chesapeake Solar, a leading mid-Atlantic solar energy company, providing a wide variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to residential and small commercial customers. In 2008, the company was listed on Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing small companies, and later that same year it was acquired by groSolar, then a leading solar energy company. 

Paul R. Paxson, Senior Manager – O&M Services/Plant Performance, ICF

Paul Paxson is an operations and maintenance (O&M) consultant at ICF with 33 years of experience in power generation, plant systems operations, staff management, power program administration, and environmental health and safety (EH&S) systems, and computer maintenance management systems (CMSS). He has a deep understanding of plant supervision, administration, operations, and maintenance, as well as contracts and service agreements. In his related work as an Independent Engineer, Mr. Paxson has supported project finance, refinance, and sell- and buy-side due diligence for a wide range of generation technologies, including combustion turbines (frame and aeroderivative), solid fuel (biomass and coal), solar (PV and CPS), and reciprocating engines. Before joining ICF last year, he was a director of generation asset management, O&M mobilization manager, and manager of plant programs for Kinder Morgan, which owned and operated a number of generation facilities throughout the U.S. He also served in a number of supervisory roles at Tenaska’s 245 MW cogeneration facility in Ferndale, Washington. Mr. Paxson began his power career while enlisted with the U.S. Navy, where he supervised reactor and steam plant operations and instructed Naval officers and enlisted personnel in the theory and practical application of nuclear power plant operations.

Jordan Shechter, Senior Manager – Client Services, MaxGen Energy Services   

Jordan Shechter is Senior Manager of Client Services for MaxGen Energy Services. He joined the company at the beginning of 2017, and is responsible for managing the utility fleet that contracts with MaxGen Energy Services for O&M work spread across the US. His 10-plus years in the solar industry has included roles at Akeena Solar as an engineering technician, SunPower Systems as corrective maintenance team lead, SunPower Corp as western operations and maintenance manager, vice president of operations and maintenance manager at enfinity and director for O&M services at Radiance Solar. Mr. Shechter earned a BA at San Francisco State University and a certificate in project management through UC Berkeley.

Instructors

Michael Bolen, Senior Project Manager – Solar Generation, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Michael Bolen is a Senior Technical Leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). For the past two years, he has managed EPRI’s Solar Generation team (Program 193C), whose mission is to provide members thought leadership and expert guidance on solar research, development, demonstration, and deployment. The team works on a broad range of activities and time-scales, a cradle-to-grave approach that spans field-testing novel solar technology to assessing end-of-life valuation, disposal, and/or recycling options. Prior to joining EPRI, Mr. Bolen was an Advisor to the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) in the Solar Energy Technology Office for three years, directing the efforts of the SunShot Initiative. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as well, contributing multiple technical innovations. He earned an MBA, M.S. and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

Jeff Gilbert, President, Azimuth Solar

Jeff Gilbert has more than 22 years of experience in the renewable energy industry. He considers himself a serial entrepreneur, having started and successfully grown three solar companies, one of which was acquired by a large national company in 2008 after hitting Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest growing companies. His experience in the solar industry includes hands-on installation, system design and engineering, project management, project development, operations management, O&M and commissioning, as well as solar training and curriculum development. Before starting Azimuth Solar, he was Director of Operations and Maintenance Services at Vigilant Energy Management for three yrs. In 2000 Mr. Gilbert co-founded Chesapeake Solar, a leading mid-Atlantic solar energy company, providing a wide variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to residential and small commercial customers. In 2008, the company was listed on Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing small companies, and later that same year it was acquired by groSolar, then a leading solar energy company.

Torrey Graf, Senior Electrical Engineer – Solar Group, Burns & McDonnell

Torrey Graf is a senior electrical engineer in the Solar Group at Burns & McDonnell. Mr. Graf’s responsibilities include providing electrical design, value engineering analysis, construction monitoring, commissioning/performance field engineer and energy production modeling for energy, government, municipal, and various other projects. He has developed an understanding of solar inverters for the PV market both for established and emergent technologies, as well as a deep expertise in the operation of PV power generation and their systems. Mr. Graf holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. p>

Eran Mahrer, Senior Director Utilities, First Solar  

Eran Mahrer serves as the Senior Director of Utilities for First Solar in North America.  He joined First Solar in 2014 and leads the company’s engagement with utilities on solar planning and programming.  In this role, Mr. Mahrer establishes and maintains relationships with utilities, engages in strategic planning, integrated resource planning and program design initiatives.  With more than eight gigawatts (GW) of modules installed world-wide and as operators of 30 utility-scale power plants with a plant availability of over 99 percent, First Solar is considered the industry’s leading partner to utilities in the transition to diversified carbon free generation fleet.  Prior to joining First Solar, Mr. Mahrer served as the Executive VP of Strategy and Programs for the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).  He joined SEPA in 2012 and led the organization’s efforts in driving utility and solar industry strategies and practices in support of solar energy.  He also led the organization’s efforts in educational programming, overseeing SEPA’s research agenda and working closely with utility leadership, regulators, developers, as well as other key stakeholders to position solar as part of the utility’s core resource strategy.  Under his leadership, SEPA advanced critical research in utility planning, strategy development and program design.  Prior to joining SEPA, Mr. Mahrer served as Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS’s) Director of Renewable Energy and Resource Portfolio Planning.  In his 11 years with APS, he led the company’s renewable energy strategy, renewable and customer program resource planning.  He was the company’s regulatory interface on many renewable matters, and implemented all its renewable programs.  He received his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, a Master’s of Science from Washington State University, and his Bachelors of Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Will Persyn, Vice President and Senior Account Executive – Power & Utility Practice, Aon Global Power  

Will Persyn is Vice President and Senior Account Executive for Aon’s Power & Utility Practice – Western Region. He quarterbacks the client relationship to identify and deploy the most impactful Aon resources to deliver mutually agreed-upon Aon Client Promise Plans. Mr. Persyn has over 15 years of Risk Management experience. Prior to joining Aon, he spent over ten years as the insurance, risk management, claims, and compliance manager with full responsibility for the strategic planning and leadership of the risk and insurance programs for a diversified, publicly traded company with over $12 billion in assets. Their holdings included Arizona’s largest electric utility, the US’s largest nuclear power plant, commodity trading floor operations, a diverse renewable energy portfolio, unregulated energy services operations, real estate development and construction, and golf course operations. He then spent five years at Willis where he ultimately led their Power, Utility & Renewable Energy practice.

Austin Quig-Hartman, Senior Technical Manager, First Solar  

Austin Quig-Hartman has over 12 years of experience in the solar industry. As Senior Technical Manager at First Solar, Mr. Quig-Hartman oversees technical aspects of First Solar’s US business development organization from origination through contract execution. Prior to joining First Solar in 2014, he managed the design team at SunPower. Mr. Quig-Hartman holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

Robert Wanless, Vice President – National Accounts, M + W Group   

Robert Wanless is Vice-President of National Accounts at M + W Energy, which is a company of the M + W Group.  He has been associated with the organization for three-and-a-half years.  He previously worked for SOLON Corp, a producer of solar power modules and solar systems for rooftop, roof integrated and greenfield installations specializing in the turnkey development, construction, and maintenance of commercial and utility-scale solar systems.  Prior to that, Mr. Wanless worked as a senior analyst at Arizona Public Service (APS), as a northeast energy trader for Pacific Gas & Electric, and at the Ontario Power Generation.  He also served as a board member on the Arizona Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory Task Force for 3 years.

Location

Hyatt Regency Cambridge
575 Memorial Dr.
Cambridge MA 02139-4896

To reserve your room, please call 1-617-492-1234 or book online here.
Please indicate that you are with the EUCI group to receive the group rate.

Room Rate:

The room rate is $259.00 single or double plus applicable taxes.

Room Block Dates:

A room block has been reserved for the nights of August 6 – 8, 2017.

Rate Available Until:

Make your reservations prior to July 20, 2017. There are a limited number of rooms available at the conference rate. Please make your reservations early.

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