Entries by Efrem Tagliamonte

Understanding Microgrid Due Diligence

In the United States, energy storage capacity has now surpassed two gigawatt hours. Year over year, this capacity is increasing by nearly 50%, according to Consulting-Specifying Engineer Magazine. This is enough energy to power more than 1.6 million homes for an entire day, and this is all made possible due to microgrids. What Is a […]

5 Important Duties of a Solar Owners Engineer

According to Statista, global solar photovoltaic capacity has increased from roughly 5 gigawatts in 2005 to approximately 509.3 gigawatts in 2018. This is largely due to its widening global acceptance as well as the increasing recognition of solar power’s cost and environmental benefits. Some of the most important leaders in the solar industry are solar […]

What Is Photovoltaic Solar Energy and How Does it Work?

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find solar panels installed by a solar independent engineer on the roof of both residential and commercial buildings. These solar panels comprise small cells referred to as photovoltaic cells. These cells are the functional part of solar panels and generate electricity when exposed to sunlight. According to the U.S. Bureau […]

Expect the Unexpected: The Impacts of Grid Congestion on Solar Development

As the installed capacity of solar PV systems in the US continues to scale and more geographic regions of the country achieve high penetration rates of renewables, grid congestion is becoming a high priority consideration for many large-scale projects. For inexperienced project stakeholders or ones that fail to conduct proper due diligence on the front […]

Lessons from the Early Adopters

PV Pros has provided clients with professional services for more than a decade, including electrical, structural, and mechanical engineering, energy modeling, project development support, and PV plant performance analysis and reporting. The underlying goal of all these services is protecting and optimizing the project owner’s interests. As C&I and utility projects have continued to scale […]

Developing Bankable Solar and Energy Storage Projects

To fund solar and energy storage projects, developers must first clear a lender’s bankability hurdle. In this context, bankability is directly related to investor confidence and the perceived risk associated with project returns. Due diligence conducted by an independent engineer (IE) is a particularly critical phase-gate—one that can make or break a project. Solar and […]

Understanding Bifacial Gain in PV Power Plants

Unlike conventional PV modules that convert only front-side irradiance into electrical power, bifacial modules convert both front- and back-side irradiance into electricity. While the additional rear-side irradiance improves plant performance in terms of energy production, revenue and levelized cost of energy (LCOE), industry standards and best practices for predicting and quantifying these gains largely remain […]

Pro Tips for Passing a PV System Capacity Test

The basic goal of ASTM E2848, “Standard Test Method for Reporting Photovoltaic Non-Concentrator System Performance,” is to compare the ratio of a PV power plant’s actual in-field performance to its expected performance based on a system model. As I discussed in a previous article, the most important things for beginners to understand about PV capacity […]

Solar Asset Acquisition: Optimizing the Value of Third-Party Engineering Services During and After Construction

For IPPs that acquire solar assets after projects are developed and designed—rather than during development or design stages—there are relatively fewer opportunities to fix design problems or engage in value engineering. Nevertheless, it remains important to engage an owner’s engineer (OE) or independent engineer (IE) earlier rather than later in order to ensure safety, quality […]

Solar Asset Acquisition: Optimizing the Value of Third-Party Engineering Services During Development and Design

Independent power producers (IPPs) have different business models for solar asset acquisition. Some IPPs actively engage in development activities, such as site selection and preliminary design studies. Other IPPs look to acquire PV power systems that are under construction. There are also IPPs that specialize in acquiring operational assets. Regardless of the IPP’s business model, […]

Importance of Accurate As-Built Drawings

As an Owner’s Engineer, PV Pros often supports clients by making strategic decisions about how best to repair, re-power, or optimize the performance of operational solar assets. In this role, our team of experts and engineers often relies on record drawings that the installing contractor handed over to the owner upon project completion and acceptance. […]

Climate-Specific Design – Risk vs Value Engineering

Mother Nature provides an unlimited source of clean energy from the sun. However, she also has a dark side that can wreak havoc on your array. As your Owners Engineer, PV Pros ensures the assets you build and acquire are designed for all the conditions it will experience in its 25+ year life, but also […]

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Connector Mismatch

PV connector mismatch is one of the most common solar project deficiencies. In our work as an Owner’s Engineer, PV Pros identifies mismatch connectors on roughly 25% of our clients’ projects. While PV connector mismatch is a persistent and potentially severe problem, it is also entirely preventable with proper design, documentation, and due diligence. What […]

Optimizing I-V Curve Tracing Activities

Through our work as an Owner’s Engineer, PV Pros has extensive experience evaluating, inspecting, and commissioning PV power systems. While I-V curve tracing is an essential tool in these efforts, it is not necessarily the best tool for every job. Moreover, some common pass-fail metrics involving I-V curve tracing may not be adequate to achieve […]

Using Aerial Imaging in Lieu of Boots on the Ground

The strategic and efficient use of resources for PV system commissioning and operations and maintenance (O&M) are critical to optimizing solar PV power system revenue and profitability. Through our work as an Owner’s Engineer, PV Pros has formalized procedures for ensuring installation quality, and identified opportunities to streamline inspection and commissioning activities while minimizing risk.  […]

When to use PVsyst, HelioScope, and SAM

At PV Pros, our project managers and engineers use photovoltaic simulation software developed by PVsyst, Folsom Labs, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). By having access to and experience with multiple complementary tools, we are able to select the best software for specific applications—depending on the use case, target audience, or project stage. Here […]

The Cost of Quality – A Solar IE’s perspective

There is a well-known business adage called the “Cost of Quality”. This is a sliding scale that says, the closer to completion a project gets, the more expensive it is to fix quality issues.   Quality comes in the form of Time (schedule) and/or Cost ($$$).  Project Management textbooks call these the “triple constrains” as […]

Spring Time for Preventive Maintenance

Spring cleaning also applies to solar! After harsh exposure to winter’s snow, ice, and rain, systems benefit from routine inspection and maintenance. This ensures performance will be optimal as the season progresses. Why is this important for owners and financiers? The solar peak generation season is April through September. Unplanned outages in this season costs […]

ASTM E2848 Capacity Test for Beginners

Capacity and performance ratio tests are used to demonstrate the performance of PV plants to buyers or lenders and de-risk their acquisition.   One popular test is ASTM 2848-13 “Standard Test Method for Reporting Photovoltaic Non-Concentrator System Performance”. The goal of this test is to compare the ratio of a modeled system vs the actual system performance, and the system should perform the […]