Serving the energy industry for over 30 years
By - Jon Brown

Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals
Design Optimization, Planning, Procurement & Development
October 26-27, 2020 | Online :: Central Time

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

This course is designed to familiarize attendees with the key elements of planning solar power plant resources as well as design and development elements, including an understanding of component function and selection, site selection, and operational optimization. A broad review of development and capital cost deployment, coupled with energy production modeling techniques, 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 for mitigating risk for long-term 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



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 1.1 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.


Monday, October 26, 2020 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In 

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Overview and Introductions

Solar Building Blocks

  • History of solar technologies and industry overview
  • Photovoltaic solar modules
  • DC electrical – string and conductor sizing, protection
  • Inverters types and design considerations
  • AC collection and system protection
  • Transformers
  • Power plant control (SCADA) and monitoring
  • Other BOS components

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
  • Evaluating storage

12:45 – 1:30 p.m. :: Lunch Break


Independent (Owner’s) Engineer Role and Functions

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
  • EPC request for proposal (RFP) support
  • Construction/commissioning support
  • Support during operations
  • 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 the owner’s operating personnel are adequately trained

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

5:15 p.m. :: Program Adjourns for Day

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In 

9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  :: Program Content

(includes breaks)

Energy Modeling Elements

  • 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

Financial Modeling Elements

  • What determines whether projects are “financeable”
  • Overview of development timeline and costs
  • Overview of operational costs
  • Review of energy production inputs
  • Review capital cost inputs and bid evaluation
  • Own vs. procure analysis
  • Evaluating storage

Procurement 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

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 and equity finance
  • Insurance market
  • Bonds, surety and guarantees

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.”

  • Holistic costs over the life of the plant, as compared to maximizing return on upfront capital expenditures
  • Consequences on an operating basis of how to deal with plant condition and performance issues when the design and development team didn’t/doesn’t follow O&M team guidance
  • How the O&M team can effectively communicate its preferences to the design and development team in a fashion that may circumvent the internal minefields that sometimes be-devil inconvenient truths

12:30 p.m. :: Course Adjourns


Matt Brinkman, Solar Business Unit and Regional Practice Manager, Burns & McDonnell

Matthew Brinkman is the Solar Business Unit and Regional Practice Manager at Burns & McDonnell.  In that capacity, he supports the company’s solar project managers and technical teams.  His 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 started his career at Burns & McDonnell in 1994 as a civil engineering co-op while attending North Dakota State University. In 2004, he permanently transferred to Phoenix, Arizona, and moved into a project manager role. In 2006, he was asked to start the Energy Global Practice in the Phoenix office, which has grown to the largest Energy presence in all Burns & McDonnell regional offices.  In 2008, he set up the solar business unit.  In 2013, Mr. Brinkman was named a member of Burns & McDonnell’s Principal Group, a senior-level leadership group within the company.  Among the industry recognitions he has received is an appointment by Governor Janet Brewer to serve on the Arizona governor’s Solar Advisory Task Force. 

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

Torrey Graf is a senior electrical engineer in the Solar Group at Burns & McDonnell. 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. Mr. Graf 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.

Josiah Daniel, Vice President, Insurance Risk Partners

Josiah Daniel is vice president of Insurance Risk Partners, based in Oklahoma City.  The firm provides risk consulting and insurance brokerage services to utilities, IPPs, developers, OEMs, contractors, lenders, and tax equity investors around the world.  Mr. Daniel has extensive experience supporting clients and their counsel in drafting and negotiating risk-related provisions in EPC, BOP, power purchase, interconnection, O&M, MSA, and finance agreements.  Prior to entering the insurance business a decade ago, he was an attorney with Chesapeake Energy Corporation focusing on regulatory risks impacting aspects of the company’s operations.  Mr. Daniel has been published in The Oil & Gas Financial Journal and The RMA Journal on timely insurance and financing issues facing the energy industry. 

Lynsey Tibbs, Solar Operations Project Manager, Southern Power Company

Lynsey Tibbs is solar operations project manager at Southern Power Company in Birmingham, AL.  In that capacity, she is responsible for managing more than 400MW of installed solar.  Her 14 years’ experience as an energy sector engineer has deeply versed Ms Tibbs in project and contractor management, having overseen $200M of solar installations.  Besides her role in solar project implementation, she also has served the company as a solar operations project engineer and forecast analyst.

Online Delivery

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.

  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • 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.


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 registrants for three business days after the event

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