logo Urban Scale Photovoltaic System - PV UPSCALE

Top tips at various project stages




Policy stage
Project start-up
Raising funding
Design
Construction/realization
Handover
Operation
Risk points

Policy Stage
* Build political commitment at all levels, national to local.
* Add to policy framework; stimulate to have short, medium and long term goals.
* Put resources into a dedicated environment/sustainability department if department exists, if not create one!
* Use obligations and incentives.
* Provide free information and initial assistance to help get projects started.
* Arrange visits and tours.
* Feedback results from positive projects to policy makers (environmental, social, visual and economic benefits) to create a positive cycle leading to strengthening of policy.
* Ensure positive results and awards publicized.
* Learn from problems with earlier projects.

Project start-up
* Take solar energy into account in urban planning as early as possible.
* Talk to all relevant stakeholders. Especially talk to the DNO about possibilities as early as possible (if not facilitated by law).
* Emphasize synergy where possible – PV as shading device, construction material, image builder.
* For existing buildings explore synergies with retro-fit measures (roof tiles, insulation etc).
* Identify the value the different stakeholders see in PV and the different information needs for each stakeholder. Architects may want design specifications while engineers may want energy production specifications. It helps when these differences between stakeholders are identified in an early stage of the project.
* Include renewables in site brief from the beginning if possible.
* Require proof of relevant PV experience in design team.
* Define what stage the system is when handed over (technical and contractual) i.e. commissioned and export contract signed or earlier stage?
* Require plan for informing/training rest of design team with some basic understanding of PV and implications for them.

Raising funding
* Consider all possible options (regular and innovative):

- Subsidies

- Income from electricity , feed-in tariff

- Loans

- Sponsors

- Solar funds and share schemes.
* Consider cost savings from combining functions (e.g. PV also proving shading).
* Consider the balance needed between complexity and effort required to raise funding and benefits potentially obtained. Having multiple sources of funding can make for complications.
* Timetables of funding and construction must be compatible.
* Consider who is eligible to claim the various funding options (from occupants to municipality to installers).

Design stage
* Take passive solar design and energy efficiency into account during the whole design process.
* Future proof (allow for the future addition of renewables) e.g. roof structure with identified fixing locations or provision of identified and accessible electrical cable ductwork.
* Follow design guidance, available from many sources.
* Consider guarantee periods required and form of guarantee (components, system and energy output).
* Ensure clear lines of responsibility, guarantees of roof, PV, etc.
* Consider the range of building integrated PV styles available and choose the look wanted from highly visible design feature to invisible.
* Design to maintain output over the life of the system (facilitate easy maintenance, system checking and monitoring).
* Consider end of life safe dismantling and recycling.
* Match complexity of system and level of effort required to keep operating to prospective occupants.

Construction/realization
* If the project is innovative for the region ensure that design and construction are well done with the help of a PV expert.
* Safety guidelines need to include PV.
* Use experienced/trained installers.
* Co-ordination between contractors and installers is vital.
* Plan PV mounting process within building process.
* Minimize risk of damage to roof or PV during installation by installing together.
* Just in time delivery of modules minimizes risks of damage or theft.
* Arrange a safe storage location for modules and insurance.
* Uncertainty/risks increase costs so provide information to other contractors to avoid cost mark ups due to concern about delays or unforeseen problems.

Handover
* Ensure information is provided to occupants (sturdy format), including guarantee documents.
* Ensure interface/display confirming PV operation is available and understood by user (visual signal for operating/problem and electricity generation data).
* Ensure electrical commissioning has taken place and permission to grid connect given.
* Ensure export tariff agreed and contracts signed if needed (in Germany some feed-in contracts may be worse than the default conditions required by law).
* Ensure maintenance plan in place and well documented and filed.
* Arrange insurance.

Operation
* Foster pride in the sustainability of the area.
* Information needs to be passed on if building occupants change or technical personnel change, consider if a formal procedure is needed.
* Provide information about expected power and yields to allow poor performance to be detected.
* Providing good metering and feedback to occupants helps to keep them aware of energy saving and can result in extra energy savings.
* If displays are not clear problems are not picked up and incentive to save energy not provided.
* Responsibility for checking performance needs to be with someone.
* Reliable point of contact for queries and maintenance needed.

Risk point – initial planning
* Initial urban plan not solar aware.
* Not in brief so nobodies problem.
* DNO not aware when installing electricity supply network and so not strong enough or not enough supply points = extra costs to refit.
* Incompatibility of funding and development timetables.

Risk point - handover
* Handover to occupants without export contracts signed, paperwork difficult for householders to deal with.
* Changeover of occupants and information lost.
* Lack of output and nobody notices or has sufficient incentive to fix.
* Income needed or no incentive to keep operating.


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