REQUIREMENTS FOR SOLAR PV DEVELOPMENT
Activities at the project planning phase comprise site selection, technical and financial feasibility studies, engineering design and project development. The first two activities involve measuring the solar resource potential and estimating the environmental and social impacts of developing a solar plant on an identified site. Engineering design involves identifying the technical aspects of the mechanical and electrical systems, the civil engineering work and infrastructure, the construction plan and the operations and maintenance (O&M) model. Project development consists of administrative tasks such as obtaining land rights, permits, licenses and approvals from different authorities; managing regulatory issues; negotiating and securing financing; negotiating and signing insurance contracts; contracting an engineering company; negotiating the rent or purchase of the land; and managing the procurement processes.
Planning a 50 MW solar PV plant requires an estimated 2,120 person-days of labour. Project development activity accounts for about 59 percent of this labour (1,250 person-days), followed by site selection (17%), engineering design (12%), and feasibility analyses (12%). Table 1 presents a breakdown of the total workforce needed in project planning by activity.
Almost 40 percent of the total person-days needed are for legal, energy regulation, real estate and taxation experts (see Figure 6), indicating the importance of the knowledge of the local context. While some of these needs can be fulfilled by foreign experts, they offer considerable opportunities for domestic employment. About 24 percent of the total labour (515 person days) requires engineers, environmental experts and health experts and safety experts (385, 90 and 40 person-days, respectively) (see Figure 6). These professionals can be hired from abroad on a temporary basis or skills can be developed domestically as part of education and training policies designed to meet future needs in human resources.
Project planning requires equipment to measure solar resources at the site, such as pyranometers and pyrheliometers, along with solar energy simulators and programmes to predict the availability of solar resources.5 It also requires computers and software to run simulations and produce feasibility analyses. Technical information is required to describe climatic features at the site that might affect a project’s structural and operational requirements or place limitations on the solar panels. Knowledge of policies and regulations related to support schemes for renewable energy, grid connection and land use is crucial for informing decisions about whether or not to proceed with the development of the solar plant. In the project development stage, planners decide whether to procure domestically manufactured components (if available) or from foreign suppliers. The cost of technology and enabling conditions created by policies that support manufacturing, such as taxes on imports or local content requirements, affect this decision.