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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: March 2016

4 - Issues and Problems Associated with Large-Scale Solar Power Systems



As discussed in the introductory chapters, both flat-panel and concentrator solar power system technologies have inherent shortcomings that can significantly diminish power production output and cause considerable loss of income. This chapter discusses some of the problems that have always been associated with these technologies.

The Problems

The following are inherent problems associated with the design, procurement, and construction management of large-scale solar power programs:

• Aside from technical evaluation of proposals, which seldom include detailed technical disclosures, design consultants have no say in the selection or evaluation of contractors.

• After completing their design documents and specifications, design consultants and engineers have absolutely no responsibility to oversee the implementation of their designs.

• Design engineers are not required to supervise solar power construction or evaluate the quality of material or equipment.

• As a result of legal issues, design engineers seldom volunteer to assume any responsibility for supervising construction.

• Design engineers never get involved in coordination meetings with the personnel of the owner's construction department.

• Design engineers do not take part in any solar power system or subsystem test procedures and seldom get involved with the final test and commissioning of systems.

• Upon receiving their engineering service fees, design engineers are never involved in solar power system performance monitoring.

• After an electrical inspector accepts a solar power system, solar power contractors disappear from the construction site and seldom make any effort to follow up with solar power output production.

• Even though solar power systems are provided with rudimentary power output monitoring and reporting systems, none of the display or monitoring of large-scale solar power systems have any field-installed PV module monitoring devices to detect system or subsystem failures. Nor do they have alarms that can provide useful and meaningful alerts to the owner's maintenance personnel.

Solar Power System Construction Process and Associated Issues

Upon meeting the minimal requirements of engineering design and procurement specification standards, as outlined by public agencies or large private industries, solar power contractors upon securing their contracts proceed with parsing the overall solar power construction into numerous subcontract components.

The reason for subcontracting various portions of the project is a result of the fact that often contractors do not have the necessary skilled personnel, equipment, nor in-house capabilities to undertake construction and integration of a large-scale solar power-generation system.