Large scale utility solar: Solar Frontier discusses the sector and unique requirements

Utility-scale solar mandates longer solar panel life and reliability, says Charles Pimentel, Solar Frontier. Other factors, such as power estimated vs. actual power generated, are of high importance to solar field installers, power companies, and financiers.

By Debra Vogler, senior technical editor

March 17, 2011 — In an interview at the Renewable Energy World/Photovoltaics World Conference & Expo (3/8-3/10, Tampa, FL), Charles Pimentel, sales director, utility business, at Solar Frontier, discussed the challenges facing large-scale utility projects. In particular, he noted that long-term reliability and durability of panels used in these projects has been a concern of the finance community. Along with this concern are factors such as price, quality, and the ability to predict the power that gets generated by the panels, along with the reliability of the supply chain itself. “In the utility arena, efficiency of process is key, and one stumbling block in the process of building out these large-scale utility projects can just destroy what little margin they do have,” said Pimentel. “That’s what we’re finding is at the top of everyone’s mind right now, and that’s where we believe we will be able to bring Solar Frontier into the top players in this industry, because we bring predictability to all of these factors.”

Listen to Pimentel’s talk: Download (iPod/iPhone) or Play Now 

The finance community is also imposing more stringent requirements on utility-scale projects. In addition to strong companies with good balance sheets and a track record, they must have product in the field and be able to show a record of power generation and quality, explained Pimentel. Also, back-stop insurance and any number of technical requirements are being mandated by the finance community; these requirements are being developed in concert with third-party engineers. “We work very closely with the finance community and the independent engineering community to develop strategies to make sure that these projects get financed when they are bundled up and brought to a bank,” said Pimentel.

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