By Doug Broach, TrinaPro Business Development Manager
With industry analysts forecasting strong tailwinds for utility-scale solar, EPCs and project developers must be prepared to grow their operations to meet this growing demand. Just as with any business endeavor, the process of scaling operation comes fraught with both risks and opportunities.
Consider these five steps to successfully scale utility solar operations:
Streamline procurement with one-stop shopping
Scaling operations requires implementing new features that make the business more efficient and streamlined. For instance, instead of dealing with an increased number of suppliers and distributors to meet growing demand during scaling, procurement can be simplified and streamlined.
One way to go about this involves consolidating all module and component procurement into a single entity for one-stop shopping. This eliminates the need to purchase from numerous distributors and suppliers, and then coordinate separate shipping and delivery logistics with each of them.
Accelerate interconnection times
Although utility-scale solar projects’ levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) continues to decline, construction labor costs are on the rise. This is especially true in places like Texas, where other energy sectors like fracking and directional drilling compete for the same job candidates as utility solar projects.
Lower project development costs with faster interconnection times. This avoids delays while keeping projects on schedule and within budget. Turnkey utility solar solutions help make system assembly quicker while ensuring component interoperability and accelerated grid interconnection.
Speed up ROI with higher energy gains
Having more resources on hand is another important aspect necessary to successfully scale operations. This allows for greater reinvestment opportunities for the company to purchase additional equipment, hire new workers and expand facilities.
Bundling together modules, inverters and single-axis trackers can improve component interoperability and boost energy gains. Increasing energy gains speeds up ROI, which helps stakeholders allocate more resources to new projects to grow their businesses.
Consider pursuing institutional investors for financing
Finding the right financiers and investors is crucial for scaling. Institutional investors, such as pension, insurance and infrastructure funds, are always on the lookout for solid projects that provide stable, long-term “bond-like” returns.
As utility solar continues to thrive and provide consistent returns, many of these institutional investors are now eyeing it as a potential asset. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported a growth in the number of direct renewable energy projects involving institutional investors in 2018. However, these projects only accounted for around 2 percent of investments, suggesting the institutional capital potential is greatly underutilized.
Partner with an all-in-one solar solution provider
Optimally aligning all of these steps into one seamless process can be one of the most difficult parts of scaling operations. Take on too much work without sufficient staff to handle it all? The quality of the work suffers and deadlines are missed. Proactively hire more employees than the amount of work coming in? Overhead labor costs skyrocket without the capital coming in to cover these expenses.
Finding that right balance is tricky. However, partnering with an all-in-one smart solar solution provider can work as a great equalizer for scaling operations.
That’s where the TrinaPro Solution comes in. With TrinaPro, stakeholders can hand-off steps like procurement, design, interconnection and O&M. This allows stakeholders to focus on other matters, such as originating more leads and finalizing deals to scale operations.
Check out the free TrinaPro Solutions Guide Book to learn more about how to successfully scale utility solar operations.
This is the third installment in a four-part series on utility-scale solar. Check back soon for the next installment.
Sponsored content by Trina Solar