The solar industry is often referred to as the “solar coaster” due to its seemingly constant changes as permitting requirements fluctuate, equipment manufacturers innovate, electrical codes are updated, and new policies are mandated. There are also now a plethora of new, continually evolving solar and energy storage system constraints - from pandemic and tariff-induced supply constraints to odd shaped sites as a result of dwindling land prospects, that must be overcome through persistent design adaptability. It is essential that your design and engineering firm partner be able to efficiently, cost effectively and consistently adapt to overcome the unique and ever-changing constraints for any given site design. Below we outline two ways that solar-plus-storage system design flexibility can help reduce project time and costs using examples from recent projects.
#1: Adjusting equipment specifications in light of voltage drop constraints on odd shaped sites
If your project involves an odd-shaped site, you may end up with voltage drop constraints. In these scenarios, it helps to be able to recognize that you can order larger output cable lug sizes for the combiner boxes rather than sticking with standard sizes of 600 kcmil. Some of our clients do not want to pull parallel conductors and would rather pull a single set of the largest conductor that they can, and if voltage drop is still an issue, then increase the string wires from #10 to #8. Even with these steps, there may still be a few outlier circuits that don’t meet the common voltage drop criteria of a maximum of two percent, but the overall losses are still managed to, as practically as possible, stay within the expected losses from the financial PVSyst models.
#2: Overcoming supply chain challenges with streamlined equipment modifications
We are also aware that our clients are suffering significant supply chain impacts, and it has been a rare project this past year that did not have a major alteration of some kind. Nobody likes receiving a constant stream of scope changes on a project, however, we understand that changes are just part of the game. For example, we recently faced module unavailability for several projects in upstate New York and had to switch out Heliene modules for Longi modules after design work had been completed. The modules were relatively similar electrically, but it still required redoing system calculations for operating voltage, currents and voltage drop. If you need a drawing tweaked or have a few extra equipment submittals, you will not see a separate charge for that from us.
Of course, don’t just take it from us. Take a look at what some of our customers are saying about our ability to adapt to any scenario:
“Castillo Engineering’s team has been instrumental in enabling us to both reduce project costs as well as avoid downtime, despite ongoing design changes. Their entire team is extremely customer and process oriented, efficient and adaptable, no matter the project.” -Oscar Vera, Vice President of Preconstruction at Vanguard Energy Partners LLC
“We contracted Castillo Engineering because they understand that no two systems are alike. They don’t force you into any ‘design standards,’ and will make what you envision work. This is critical in this market, as supply chain issues often limit and alter your equipment choices.” -Zachary Schrowang, Chief Operating Officer at Solar Generation
We have learned from our over 25 years of experience in the solar industry that flexibility is the key, as there will always be design alterations as each project progresses. We have been able to leverage our 20+ senior engineers on projects throughout the United States to adapt to a wide array of last minute project change requests. Get in touch with Castillo Engineering today to learn how we can support the design and engineering at each stage of your project.