Introduction to feasibility analysis

Feasibility analysis is imperative to assess the viability for any project before allotting time, budget and resources to it. Analyzing feasibility is always beneficial as it provides a clear picture of the proposed project to all its stakeholders. An efficient feasibility study will ensure the success of a project. In case of rooftop solar installation, the installer has to conduct feasibility assessment majorly on the technical, regulatory and economic aspects. Bigger projects require formal feasibility evaluation, for smaller projects checking main feasibility factors by the installer should be sufficient. The feasibility, even of the small project, should be evaluated in three aspects: technical, legal and financial. Technical feasibility evaluates the technical requirements that would be necessary for installation. For e.g., the capacity of the plant required for power generation, technical resources available to support installation and capacity generation, roof construction etc. Regulatory feasibility assesses the regulatory adherence of the project. For e.g., whether the client possesses roof rights, environmental regulations of the locality, etc. Financial feasibility evaluates whether an installation is financially viable when cost and benefits associated are compared. For e.g., the investment required, the payback period, etc. For bigger projects, economic feasibility check is required. The project is economically feasible when it provides more economic benefits than harm – for example, solar power plants (besides direct benefits to owners) mitigate global warming problems, diversify energy sources, can generate local market etc.

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Site survey and its importance

A site survey is done to collect information about various aspects related to a rooftop solar power plant installation, such as local conditions, consumer’s power consumption needs, physical details of the site such as roof, availability of access, height and nearby objects, etc. Usually, for small rooftop solar power plants requirements site surveys are often done manually by skilled manpower, on the basis of which a CAD model of the site is prepared. This model is then used for the power plant design, estimation of balance of system and eventually the estimation of budget. However, for large roofs and critical areas which may consume more time conducting a survey manually, drones are also being used to inspect such locations. Why is a site survey so important? Each rooftop is unique – In India, each building and its rooftop is unique. It has unique designs, unique construction and therefore needs to be studied as a unique individual case. Depending on the rooftop type, available area, orientation, its construction and strength the module mounting structures also vary, therefore the site survey of the roof becomes really important. Shadow analysis is crucial – Owing to the construction pattern in India, there is always a possibility that there are some large trees, high-rise buildings, or structures around the majority of the rooftops, that will cast a shadow which will impact the total sunlight received by the installed solar power plant. Therefore a detailed shadow analysis is a must to assess the correct generation potential […]

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Suggestive prerequisites to conduct a site survey

As site survey is the foundation step, therefore surveyors should prepare for a site survey in a very structured manner. Surveyor should ensure the following: Carrying necessary tools – All necessary tools for measuring distance, orientation, angle should be present. Surveyor should also have torch, camera and notebook to make a record of site images and information received onsite; Site Survey Checklist/Form – It should be ensured that site survey form/checklist in physical or digital format is available with the surveyor. (A physical survey form may be always kept a spare as many sites may not have access to proper internet) Information to the customer – The prospective client should be well informed about the visit and should be asked to make necessary arguments to access the roof, example ladder etc. in case it is not Safety during survey – Site surveys for a rooftop solar installation involves work at height, therefore the surveyor should choose proper clothes for a survey and should carry safety equipment including body harness if working at a height.

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Conducting a site survey

When studying a site/roof to install the solar power plant, surveyor should at first check for: The orientation of roof towards the sun (if not, one should check the possible ways for PV modules to best fit the roof facing towards south) Lack of any shading obstacles (during the whole day and throughout the year) Minimization of the length of the DC cables between the PV modules and the inverter Protection from theft and damage Easy access for installation and maintenance of the solar power plant. Important points that should be considered during the survey 1. Assess possible shading from nearby objects The solar PV modules should be provided with clear access to sunlight throughout the day (at least between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM), throughout the year. Please note that even small shadows can severely affect the power output of the PV plant therefore to achieve the maximum from your analysis, perform the survey during a bright and sunny day. Shadow analysis plays a very important role in rooftop solar power plant designing and its operations for its life span, hence should be given priority and should be conducted with well calibrated tools like SunPath Finder, SunEye etc.. This can also be done using PV software such as PV Syst and Helioscope etc. During the site survey, surveyor should check and record information related to: Buildings –whether a new building is not being planned nearby, throwing shadow on the site/roof being surveyed Unavoidable objects- Chimneys, power lines, poles and […]

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Site survey for a rooftop solar installation

A site survey is done to collect information about various aspects of the possibility of a rooftop solar power plant installation, such as local conditions, consumer’s voltage level, his power consumption & energy requirement, physical details of the site such as size, direction & strength of the roof, height from the ground, access path, location of the interconnection panel, possible cable route and inverter location, nearby objects, shadow analysis, local regulatory limitations etc. Usually, for small rooftop solar power plants requirements, site surveys are often done manually by skilled manpower, on the basis of which a computer-aided design (CAD) model of the site is prepared, which is used for the power plant design, estimation of balance of system and eventually the estimation of budget. For large roofs and critical areas which may consume more time for conducting a survey manually are also being surveyed using drones these days, which helps in getting full aerial view of the roof in one go.

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What is shadow analysis and why is it important?

Shadow analysis is the assessment of the site of installation of the solar PV modules for the casting of shadows. This technical analysis is of utmost importance before proceeding with installation because casting of shadows on a solar PV module has considerable impact on its efficiency and shelf-life. The effect of shading is to reduce the photo current per unit area of the cell. A shadow falling on a solar PV module blocks the flow of solar energy and eventually, the modules generate hotspots and are damaged through rise in temperature. The shading could be of nearby trees, buildings or even inner-row shading of the installed PV module array. The efficiency of a PV module at any time reduces in direct proportion to the area of the shadowed part of the module, therefore it becomes highly important to conduct shadow analysis during the feasibility study and designing a rooftop solar power plant. The shading experienced in solar PV plants can be identified as follows: Self-shading – the shadow that occurs on a PV module due to another PV module. Shading due to near objects – the shadow that occurs due to nearby objects which may be present within the vicinity or rooftop, around the installed PV modules. Some of these may affect the plant for a certain time of the day or for the entire day depending on their location, height, distance from the solar module. There may also be shadows that are cast due to newly built high-rise buildings, […]

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How can shadow analysis be conducted?

There are advanced software which provide accurate shadow analysis based on the data provided to it. Features such as calculations through equations-formulas-algorithms and 3D simulation are quite common is these software. Earlier instrument such as, sun path finder was commonly used, however with the development of technology, this instrument is not in popular use.

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Why is there a need for transition towards renewable energy?

With the increasing awareness among the general population, there has been a positive effect in the uptake of renewable energy. (Some of the reasons given below.) When renewable sources, such as sunlight, wind, tides, waves, and geothermal heat are harnessed,  they can produce electricity, heating and cooling and various energy services. The progress in the renewable energy technologies has given greater access to the rural and remote areas to sustainable and clean energy at reduced costs and healthier lives. Some reasons for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy are: Not all renewable sources are devoid of problems (example: hydro power)

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India Electricity Generation by Type

India is one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world and its role is vital in the global energy markets. Over the years, the Government of India has been striving plans to produce 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022; the rise in the uptake of renewable energy through energy market reforms and the amount of renewable electricity deployment has increased citizens’ access to electricity. The comparative pie-charts below shows India’s progress and its future projection:    

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What are electrical hazards?

An electrical hazard can be defined as a dangerous condition where a worker could make electrical contact with energised equipment or a conductor, and from which the person may sustain an injury. During such a situation, the human body is exposed to the electrical current, the body acts as a resistor and allows the current to pass through it. The value of resistance varies with the physical condition of the human body and water presence. Some of the common electrical hazards are: Overhead power lines Damaged tools and equipment Inadequate wiring and overloaded circuits Exposed electrical parts Improper grounding Damaged insulation Wet conditions Preventive measures Electric sparks, loose connection, improper wiring and lack of personal protective equipment can lead to a fire/shock therefore certain precaution should be taken while dealing with an electrical circuit/equipment. Only trained electrical engineers should work on the installation and maintenance of the solar PV electrical system Electrical circuit breakers should be used during the maintenance activities Electrical circuit diagram should be available for the engineer Use insulated tools (e.g. spanners) Put covers over the battery terminals Install fuse (e.g. near the battery) Check contact and voltage drop Tighten up screw wherever applicable Check cable and terminal block periodically Always check the voltage between any conductor and any other wires, and to ground Always wear gloves and avoid touching conductive parts (e.g. battery terminals, metal and mounting frames) with bare hands     The post ID for this chapter is 2720. For any suggestion or comment […]

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