Once the engineering design for a solar photovoltaic (PV) project is completed, site preparation can begin. Site preparation includes establishing road access to the site, excavation, grading, installing drainage systems, and installing perimeter fencing. When site preparation is completed, engineers and contractors will begin installing the solar equipment.
A PV system consists of PV cells, racking or mounting structure, electrical wiring and connections, mounting hardware, power-conditioning equipment (inverter), and conduit. The cells are mounted on racking structures that point them toward the sun. In cases where the tracking systems are installed, these mounts can turn to follow the sun, much like a sunflower, allowing the solar panel to remain optimally positioned to gather sunlight over the course of the day.
These structures are connected to balance-of-system components that transmit electricity generated by the panels to the electric utility grid. The first step in the installation of a solar PV system is to install these mounting structures. When the mounting structures are complete, the PV panels are attached with brackets.
An electrical junction box on each PV panel is then connected to the circuit. While the electricity generated at a solar panel is direct current, the circuit includes an inverter that converts the direct-current power into alternating-current power that can be fed into the electric utility grid. Electrical cables are used to collect the electricity generated by each group of panels and transmit this electricity to the point of interconnection with the utility grid. Once all panels and balance-of-system equipment is installed, a connection is made to the grid and the system is energised.
Operation Site Managers oversee the procurement of spare parts and other materials, interface with landowners and the local utility, and address any local and environmental issues.
On a regular basis, they verify that the wind farm is in good working condition and performing according to expectations. Physical inspections of the turbines and ancillary facilities, including transformer, are conducted on a regular basis. Site Managers ensure that maintenance and repairs are completed in a timely manner, in accordance with the O&M contract, and wind turbine specifications. Site Managers are also responsible for ensuring sound safety practices on site.
The number of technicians on site depends upon the size of the project. There is typically a crew of two technicians per 20-30 wind turbines. Technicians perform preventative (planned) maintenance as well as unplanned maintenance and repair. In addition to the on-site team, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) equipment allows electronic remote monitoring of the performance and condition of the turbines and the wind farm.
The SCADA system constantly monitors output, as well as the status of the individual wind turbines and the wind farm as a whole. For example, if a turbine is not operating, the SCADA system can be used to diagnose the problem. The SCADA system also allows communication with the utility provider and power purchaser. Maintenance and repair Preventive maintenance is performed on a regular basis. Control and safety devices and gears are inspected and tested.
Any small defects are repaired, lubricants are replenished and filters are replaced. Oil samples are taken and analyzed for signs of degradation. Unplanned maintenance and repair occurs on an as-needed basis.
Insurance policies are put into place to cover risk of liability to third parties and damage to properties.
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