Planning for a solar energy project requires a team with expertise and experience across a range of areas, including civil engineering, environmental planning, site access solutions, solar panel installation, and more. Having the right people in the right roles is just one of the keys to success. You must also be prepared to handle any issues that arise.
Issues That Could Arise in a Solar Energy Project
You might not know what hurdles you will face during your solar energy project, but you can be sure there will be some. The better prepared you are, the smoother the project will go.
Federal, state, and local environmental regulators will require permitting and compliance with regulations, which often includes stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) preparation and compliance. The presence of endangered species and sensitive habitats could also impact activities on site, including steps to prevent the transfer of invasive species.
Property Lines and Landowner Relationships
You may need to go through a privately owned right of way or avoid going on adjacent properties during your solar project. These restrictions can limit where equipment can go, so it’s important to plan your access route and clearing strategy. When going through a right of way, you may also need to restore the land to its original condition. Limiting damage is always the best strategy.
Rocks, water lines, gas lines, and other obstacles may be hidden below the surface. Not knowing this in advance can throw a major wrench in your plans and significantly impact your budget.
Restoration should be included in your overall budget. However, if you’re not careful during the project, costs could be higher than expected. Taking steps to protect the ground and limit damage to vegetation will keep restoration costs in check.
Supply Chain Delays
Getting materials to the site on time is critical to stay on track. When supply chain delays derail your schedule, it can impact the timing for crews to be onsite and have a domino effect.
You can’t predict the weather, but you can plan for it. Keep potential weather events in mind when creating your site access strategy. Will you need to contend with ice and snow? Will your temporary road be able to handle heavy rainfall? Do you need to install drainage systems? When you plan for the worst, you can be sure that your crew can safely access the site, no matter what the weather brings.
Site Access Challenges
Various factors can contribute to challenges with site access. Varying terrain with steep grades, muddy spots, wetlands, and other hurdles must be accounted for.
Best Ways to Deal with Solar Energy Project Issues
If you’re not prepared to handle all of the above issues, you may experience setbacks in the schedule or extra costs you didn’t budget for. Take these steps to reduce your risk as much as possible. The better prepared you are, the easier you will be able to address issues when they arise.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Build room in your budget for weather delays, supply chain issues, broken panels, and other potential problems. Having contingency plans for possible issues will allow you to change gears when necessary. How will you redirect the crew on foul weather days? What’s your process for dealing with broken panels? Having a plan will save time because the decisions will already be made.
Work with qualified professionals.
Every person on the team should have experience in their respective field. When it comes to site access solutions, look for a provider that has experience with utilities. They’ll know what to look for when creating a site access plan, including hidden obstacles.
Create custom solutions.
If you have done solar energy projects before, don’t assume that the way you did it last time will work on a different site. Each site has nuances that must be accounted for in the budget, schedule, and overall planning process.
Rely on the Experience of YAK ACCESS
Our team has decades of experience developing and implementing site access solutions for utilities of all types. From pipelines to power lines to wind farms, we have encountered every challenge you can imagine. This deep experience makes us perfectly positioned to provide customized site access solutions for solar energy projects all over the country.
We created a handy checklist to help you better understand everything that goes into site preparation for solar projects. Get your copy today!