Technical Workshop on “Developing Utility Scale Grid Connected Solar PV System in Nepal”

Thursday, May 05, 2019
Wind Power
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Nepal has seen a rapid interest on large scale solar by project developers over the last year. Department of Electricity Development (DOED) has issued solar projects closed to 500 MW over the last year. Yet, we are just at the start of this solar revolution. Hence, there is a huge potential currently in Nepal and the sector at large. However, there exists lack of clarification on the process and technical skill/knowledge gap among the project developers and investors.

With this background, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) and WindPower Nepal co-organized a 3 day technical workshop on ““Developing Utility Scale Grid Connected Solar PV System in Nepal” along with international partners ABB, Longi Solar and Meteodyn to bridge this technical and product knowledge gaps on 7th– 9th May, 2019 at Hotel Himalaya, Lalitpur, Nepal.

The training workshop mainly focused on process of project development, technical components regarding design of on-grid solar, hands on calculation of solar yield, financial modelling and other aspects of solar projects like environmental compliance and licensing measures. Specifically, the training workshop focused on the following components:

  • Introduction to Project Development Process in Nepal
  • Identification of Sites, Plant Site Selection and Preliminary Assessment
  • Hand on-activity: Tools for Design and Resource estimation using Simulation Software Meteodyn PV
  • Design Considerations and Project Sizing
  • PV technology overview
  • Balance of Systems Design, Equipment sizing, Component Selection & System Protection
  • Financial Analysis and Modelling
  • Current Status and Licensing Measures
  • Environment and Social Safeguard
  • Project Installation and Safety Measures

The training had more than 40 participants from diverse backgrounds. The diverse field of cohort participated from financial institutions, engineering companies, academics and from various government departments like the NEA, DOED and Ministry of Energy.

Highlights and Major Takeaways from the sessions:

  • There is a need for power generation mix instead of relying just on one source of power for Nepal.
    • Effect of climate change- water flow in the river decreasing year by year.
    • PDNA reports says total 115MW hydro facilities are damaged in 2015 earthquake amounting to total damage of $186million. Hydro projects more vulnerable to natural disasters as they have more than 50% civil structures.
    • Huge gap between generation growth rate and demand growth rate by relying with only one source
  • Land and Transmission Lines biggest constraint in the project development process.
    • Land should not overlap with the existing projects with survey license
    • Requires about 4-6 acres per MW depending on the type of land (flat or slope) and solar PV technology chosen (module type and fixed tilt or tracking)
  • Nepal needs to learn with incentives provided in India
    • Easy and cost-effective land acquisition process
    • Infrastructural support like-road access, water availability during construction and operation
    • Transmission line up to solar farm
    • Accelerated depreciation and Tax holidays
    • Availability of Solar Resource
    • Shading
    • Availability of Land Area
    • Topography & Orientation
    • Available Infrastructures
    • Major Parameters for site selection are:
    • Geotechnical Considerations
    • Environment and Social Considerations
    • Distance to Evacuation Point
    • Right of way
  • Inter row spacing calculation crucial in shading analysis and shadow casted can result in underperformance in the entire string.
  • Meteodyn discussed that the amount and variation of solar radiation at project site are key factors determining the profitability of project investment.
    • Two main components of solar radiation are direct normal (or beam) radiation and diffuse radiation. Solar photovoltaic panels convert both types of radiation into electricity.
    • In order to provide an objective evaluation of your solar resource and accurately quantify the energy potential of a site, we need to estimate both the long-term average values and the variation around this average.
    • Hence access to quality and bankable datasets becomes key.
  • On licensing measures:
    • 58 number of survey licenses has been issued with total capacity of 468 MW with 6 generation application of total capacity 40 MW. 1 MW is currently in operation.
    • IBN (Investment Board of Nepal) discussed that any project over 200 MW would be through them for licensing purposes.
  • Longi Solar discussed how mono-crystalline result in more yield on limited land space, with record highest cell efficiency at 24.06% and Module Efficiency of 20.83% been reached.
  • ABB discussed selection parameters of inverters : Central vs String inverters:
    • Financial considerations: Central Inverters are more cost effective than string inverters
    • Project location is also key; as for difficult terrain, string inverter would be a better choice.
    • For fault detection, central inverters are more preferable.
  • Financial Analysis
    • Module cost accounts for 60% of the capital cost and has been exponentially decreasing every year.
    • O&M cost of the project depends on Project Location, Surrounding Environment, Technology used, Economic of Scale and many other factors
    • Given the uncertainty surrounding solar power projects, sensitivity analysis becomes essential. Sensitivity Analysis analyzes the various risks to the project on uncertain conditions and provides lenders and investors a greater understanding of the effects of changes in inputs on the project’s profitability and bankability.
  • Environment Assessment is an important decision making tool.
    • Project scale/threshold, Site sensitivity and Project Cost are three main basis of screening whether the project needs IEE (Initial Environment Examination) or a EIA(Environmental Impact Assessment)
    • Low quality documents, Delay on IEE/EIA Report approval process and inadequate implementation of findings and recommendations of EIA/IEE report are the three main challenges.
    • Detail report procedural were discussed
  • Installation and Safety Measures
    • Equipment handling pre-installation is very crucial for the project as it can have lasting impact on the equipment life and solar generation.

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