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DNV SERVING THE energy Industry solar energy

Solar PV

the power to harvest solar energy

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GLOBAL SERVICES TO THE solar photovoltaics industry Independent engineering for financial institutions Owner’s engineering for project developers ■■ Technology assessments for component manufacturers

Turn-key design services for project developers Regulatory standards compliance consulting ■■ Solar resource assessments





Solar photovoltaics (PV) is the fastest growing source of energy in the world; the industry has experienced an average annual growth rate of 30% for the past 20 years and a remarkable 80% since 2006. Building on humble origins providing power in the remote corners of the world, solar PV has evolved to become a significant source of renewable distributed generation, being found on rooftops and open fields throughout Europe, North America and Asia. As the scale of solar PV deployments has grown, so has the complexity of both the technology and the financial programs required to execute these large projects. DNV provides independent engineering services in support of the global solar PV industry. Working with equipment manufacturers, project developers and financial institutions, we manage risk throughout the value chain, helping to ensure the safety and performance of systems from commercial rooftops to multi-megawatt power plants.

The power to secure electricity supply

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CONTENTS 10 Solar PV design services 11 Technology assessments 12 References

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

04 Enhancing the safety and performance of solar PV systems 06 Owner’s engineering Independent engineering The DNV menu of services

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Enhancing the safety and perfor DNV provides independent engineering services to the solar PV industry. Our team includes individuals with expertise in PV system design, PV module manufacturing, inverter performance and structural elements such as rooftop mounting systems and trackers. This brochure highlights the DNV portfolio of services and how we work with customers to enhance the safety, reliability and performance of solar PV systems.

DNV provides engineering services to all the stakeholders across the ­spectrum of the renewable energy industry. Project developers come to us when their internal resources cannot meet the demands of their project pipeline. We provide a range of services from energy estimates to turn-key design packages. Our relationships with many of the premier developers in North America give DNV the opportunity to set the very highest standards of ­engineering excellence in today’s PV systems. Financial institutions engage DNV to perform due diligence on large solar PV projects; many banks, insurance companies and private equity firms rely on DNV to protect their investments. Starting with desktop design reviews and finishing with on-site performance verification tests, DNV helps insure that projects meet their financial goals. Component manufacturers turn to DNV to perform technical due ­diligence on new products launching into the North American market. Armed with a DNV technology review, a company can help build its case for acceptance into the North American market.

DNV’S SOLAR PV SERVICES Owner’s engineering DNV works with project owners to ensure a high level of engineering excellence starting with site feasibility studies and progressing through all project phases culminating in final acceptance testing and performance verification. Our team brings a ­multi-disciplinary approach to each project, providing a broad and deep perspective on design, contract review, pro forma review, construction ­monitoring and final testing.

Independent engineering A few short years ago a 1 megawatt (MW) solar project was considered quite large. Today DNV is engaged on a number of projects in the hundreds of MW’s. With the investment in a single large project approaching $1 billion there is increasing need for financial due diligence. DNV provides financial institutions a full-service approach to due diligence. We work closely with project developers and EPC contractors to ensure that every phase of a project is completed safely and with performance in mind. Starting with the initial solar resource assessment and energy estimate, DNV’s experience brings valuable insight into areas such as contract review, operations and maintenance, design review and performance analysis.

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mance of solar pv systems

PV system design DNV’s design team provides turn-key systems design services to project ­developers. From initial concept through to full systems designs, the DNV team brings a deep knowledge of PV technology to the task. We work with crystalline silicon and thin-film PV modules, fixed-tilt mounting, ­trackers and various inverter options to ­produce the optimized design for any site.

Technology review

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

The solar PV industry continues to attract a wide range of new companies and technologies. Each of these new entrants faces the daunting requirement to become “bankable”, in other words acceptable to financial institutions. DNV has developed a structured process by which we provide evidence that the product will function within the specified limits with an acceptable degree of confidence. DNV has worked with PV modules, concentrating PV systems, trackers, inverters and module-level electronics, providing technology reviews that contribute to the overall “bankability” of a product.

Brad Eccles, DNV/BEW San Ramon

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Owner’s engineering independent engineering the dnv menu of services DNV offers a range of services to both project owners/developers and financial institutions. For each project the client can select from the following menu of services to tailor a program that meets their needs. Task/Description

Client input

Site evaluation Evaluate site for suitability/feasibility of proposed installation; potential impact of the following on system construction and operation: • Solar resource • Topography/shading • Site/soil condition • Security • Environmental factors • Military, other considerations

Design drawings, project schedule, product specs and warranty sheets. Interviews w/ engineers and designers Performance data, designer assumptions, Performance Guarantee

Permit status review Identify key permit and schedule milestones. Evaluate on-going status of permits including: • Building permits, easements, grading, dust, etc. • Incentive reservations & proof of progress • Utility interconnection/net metering/FERC/ISO • Environmental permits

Review and investigate construction activity, identify potential hurdles & recommend solutions: • On-site construction monitoring • Supply & service contract terms & conditions • Key subcontractors • Installation schedule • Performance guarantee review

Supply & service contracts, project schedule, key subs list

O&m review

Performance estimate Estimate system performance: • Site-specific solar resource • System power ratings (dc/ac, STC/PTC, etc.) • 1st -year energy production • Life time energy production, including degradation

Client input

Construction support review Site visit, availability of site host personnel

Design & equipment review Review design for code compliance and conformance to customary solar engineering practice. Evaluate key components: • Modules • Inverters • Tracker design • Balance of system • System integration


Permit submittals and approvals

Review and investigate operations and maintenance (O&M), identify potential hurdles and recommend solutions: • O&M cost estimate • O&M contract terms & conditions • O&M manual • Key subcontractors

O&M contract and manual

Overall risk assessment Summarize project risk in terms of potential impact on: • Construction schedule • System performance • Long term reliability • Performance guarantee review

Schedules and contracts

Site inspection Visit site to: • Verify as-built installation • Evaluate workmanship • Verify permit compliance • Verify schedule conformance • Perform or witness sub-system testing • Develop punch list and check status as necessary

Necessary construction drawings and project schedule

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Client input

System test Witness or review performance data set to: • Verify minimum period of continued operation • Assess actual vs. predicted output • Other contractual measure of acceptable performance

System fully operational and access to performance data where applicable

Performance evaluation Complete or spot evaluation of array, tracker, inverter through the use of: • Spot voltage and current measurements • IV curves • As-installed array and system ratings • Independent performance monitoring

System fully operational

Verify the completion accuracy of all items to be declared listed on the Final Completion Notice, such as: • System ready for full, unattended commercial operation • System passed inspections with AHJ • Utility interconnection installation evaulation complete • System tests passed successfully

Notice of Interim Completion prior to visit, Notice of Final Completion issued by the installer

PV system monitoring

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

Final completion

Training • Utilities, installers, electricians • PV basics, advanced PV systems, simulation tools Testing • Systems and modules Tool development • Shading • Variability analysis • O&M model • EPC contractor evaluation tool Industry presentations • White paper authors and conference session chairs • PV book systems chapter authors Research • Snow and soiling loss test facility Product development and prototyping • IEC, IEEE, UL, California Energy Commission

Ray Hudson, DNV/BEW San Ramon PV power plant, Denver International Airport, Colorado

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

Standards activities

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Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

BEW Engineering and DNV BEW Engineering was founded in 2004 to provide engineering services to the renewable energy industry. The company was acquired by DNV in October 2010. The company focuses on three specific areas: consulting services for the solar PV industry, wind industry consulting, and transmission and distribution inter­ connection support. The former BEW Engineering headquarters in San Ramon, California is now the solar energy ­knowledge center of DNV. The client base served includes wind turbine ­manufacturers, solar PV equipment ­manufacturers, utility companies, project developers and financial institutions. Since its founding, BEW has provided ­engineering support services for hundreds of PV power plants. By combining the market position and capabilities of both DNV and BEW, our services will be greatly expanded and very useful in helping DNV serve the industry in the cleaner energy markets.

Solar Power plant at Denver International Airport, Colorado

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Solar PV design services Established as a separate team with its own office in San Francisco, the DNV PV Design Group provides turn-key PV power plant designs to project developers throughout North America. Working with the DNV transmission and distribution group, the PV Design Group can take a project from a site feasibility and transmission assessment through to a finished construction-ready drawing set.

PV Power Plant Design Many project developers find that working with the DNV PV Design Group results in the fastest, most cost-effective and, importantly, ­“bankable” approach to PV power plant design. DNV works very closely with our clients to ensure that each design takes advantage of the natural conditions on the ground or on the roof, that the components are the right match to the site and that the layout maximizes the individual ­performance of each component in the system. Our team brings to each project extensive experience with crystalline and thin-film modules, fixed-mount racking, various trackers and inverters from around the world.

Turn-key Drawing Packages Working with partner firms, the DNV PV Design Group can produce ­turn-key, construction-ready drawings stamped by a professional engineer in

The Athenian School gets 60% of its energy needs from this A-shaped solar power installation. The school is located in Danville, Northern California at the base of Mount Diablo which can be seen top right in this picture.

all 50 states and in all the provinces of Canada. Underpinning the financial success of any PV project is a wellconceived design. DNV’s PV Design Group provides complete packages, including electrical, structural and mechanical drawings.

Power Plant Optimization Optimizing the financial performance of a PV power plant requires the bringing together and fine-tuning of several disparate elements. These include the solar resource available at the site, terms of the power ­purchase agreement, performance characteristics of the potential ­components, operations and ­maintenance considerations, and, of course, the capital expense required. Through years of experience, the DNV PV Design Group has developed models that streamline the optimization process.

Performance, Reliability, Safety By focusing in these three areas the PV Design Group helps project developers manage risk. Every design is carefully modeled to result in the best balance of land utilization, energy production and capital expense. Strict adherence to appropriate electrical codes stands behind every DNV design - safety is our number one priority. Our work performing due diligence on projects drives the DNV approach to reliability. Every element of each design is intended to contribute to the specified design life of the project. A PV system that reliably and safely performs up to expectations for the life of the project is the goal of every project developer. DNV’s PV Design Group works ­systematically to ensure that every project performs as expected, with high reliability, and conforms to the very highest standards of safety.

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Technology assessments

Helping manufacturers to achieve “bankability”


Company strength and stability

Innovation drives the dramatic growth of the solar PV industry, as new ­products continue to flood into the market. PV modules based on new thin-films, inverters with novel approaches to maximum power point tracking or grid stability features, single and dual-axis trackers and a host of new module-level electronics are just a few examples of new ­products and concepts. With new products comes the promise of lower costs, higher performance or both. Of course, with new products also comes some uncertainty and risk. A formal technology review by DNV helps to manage this risk, by ­performing a thorough review of a new product and the company behind it.

A DNV technology review will explore the following areas: ■■ Product evaluation ■■ Performance evaluation ■■ Reliability evaluation ■■ Manufacturing capability and maturity ■■ Installation and O&M evaluation ■■ Quality evaluation ■■ Standards compliance evaluation

Colleen O’Brien, DNV/BEW San Ramon

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

The Technology Review process

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Client: MMA Renewable Ventures Challenge In 2007 this was the largest PV project in the USA – the scale of which required ­intensive independent engineering review.

DNV’s Approach DNV performed a site ­feasibility study, energy ­estimate, design review, site inspections and final performance verification.

Value to the Client DNV’s due diligence enabled the developer to obtain financing for this large project.

Avenal Solar Facility 45MW Solar PV Project California, USA Client: Eurus Energy Challenge Eurus Energy needed an owner’s engineer to represent their interests in this large PV project.

DNV’s Approach Working with Eurus and the EPC contractor, DNV provided preliminary layout and design drawings and monitored the construction of the project

Value to the Client Eurus Energy developed, owns and will operate the PV plant. DNV performed due diligence to ensure that the EPC contractor constructed the system as designed.

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

Nellis Air Force Base 14MW Solar PV Project Nevada, USA

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe


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client: capstone Infrastructure corporation Challenge Capstone needed an ­independent engineer to look out for its interest in a PV project they were acquiring from the developer.

DNV’s Approach Subsequent to performing an energy estimate and design review, DNV monitored the construction of the project during multiple site visits.

Value to the Client DNV’s goal in the project was to protect the client’s significant investment.

Hunt Electric Client: Hunt Electric Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

Helios Solar Star A-1 20MW Solar PV Project Ontario, Canada

Challenge Provide expertise to support the design of a complex hillside PV system with ­variable slopes requiring balanced power flows into the DC/AC inverter, and develop an energy model to support the client’s ­contractual requirements.

DNV’s Approach DNV used its industry ­experience and state-of-theart design strategies to ­identify optimal array ­configurations, sectionalize arrays to balance outputs from various slopes, and perform multiple simulations to determine the net ­production from all segments.

Value to the Client Timely delivery of design strategies to optimize ­performance of the system under unusual site conditions, which helped to ensure that Hunt Electric meet its ­permitting and construction ­schedules. DNV’s energy estimate and performance test plan provided confidence that contractual capacity requirements would be fulfilled.

Inverter Technology Review

Client: Chinese solar module manufacturer

client: European PV inverter manufacturer

Challenge This US-stock exchange listed Chinese company targeted the utility-scale market, but was relatively unknown to the key participants -developers, financiers, utilities.

DNV’s Approach

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

Solar Module Technology Review

Challenge While the client has a track record in the European solar inverter market, they wanted to launch a new product into the USA.

DNV’s Approach

DNV evaluated the company’s product and approach to manufacturing and quality, including a factory inspection and site visit.

DNV conducted a detailed technology review, evaluating the electronic design, ­manufacturing process, ­visited the manufacturing facility and field installations.

Value to the Client

Value to the Client

The written report delivered by DNV was used by the client to introduce its ­products to the utility-scale PV market.

DNV produced a written report providing a summary of the detailed technical ­evaluation. This report, intended for prospective customers and financiers, helped to establish “bank­ ability” for the product.

Photo: DNV/Magne A. Røe

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GLOBAL SERVICES TO THE MARITIME, OIL & GAS AND ENERGY INDUSTRIES Asset risk management Enterprise risk management ■■ Offshore classification ■■ ■■

Safety, health and environmental risk management ■■ Ship classification


Oslo Veritasveien 1 NO-1322 Høvik Norway Phone: +47 67 57 99 00

Shanghai House No. 9 1591 Hong Qiao Road Shanghai 200336 China Phone: +86 21 3208 4518



Technology qualification Verification

BEW Engineering, Inc. 2303 Camino Ramon, Suite 220 San Ramon, California 94583 USA Phone: +1 925 867 3330

San Francisco, CA Seattle, WA Boston, MA n Houston, TX n n n

Main worldwide offices Houston 1400 Ravello Dr Katy, TX 77449 USA Phone: +1 281 396 1000

London Palace House 3 Cathedral Street London SE1 9DE United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7357 6080

Singapore DNV Technology Centre 10 Science Park Drive Singapore 118224 Phone: +65 6508 3750

Det Norske Veritas as NO-1322 Høvik, Norway I Tel: +47 67 57 99 00 I Fax: +47 67 57 99 11

THIS IS DNV DNV is a global provider of services for managing risk, helping customers to safely and responsibly improve their business performance. Our core competence is to identify. assess and advise on risk management. DNV is an independent foundation with presence in more than 100 countries.

the power to harvest solar energy © Det Norske Veritas AS 9-2011. Design: Coor Media 1108-006 Print: Coor Media 300/2011. Front cover: ©DNV/Magne A. Røe

The power to harvest solar energy  

Solar photovoltaics (PV) is the fastest growing source of energy in the world. With decades of experience, DNV provides a comprehensive rang...

The power to harvest solar energy  

Solar photovoltaics (PV) is the fastest growing source of energy in the world. With decades of experience, DNV provides a comprehensive rang...