What Are The Big Challenges Faced While Installing Solar Energy Projects in Manufacturing Industries?

Mr. Raghav Malhotra Global Head of Project Management Cleantech Solar

In our extensive experience with manufacturing clients with global presence, we observe two major categories of challenges faced while installing solar energy projects in this industry: the  expectation of the highest safety standards and overcoming en-route technical challenges. Safety concerns mainly arise from the risks associated with working at heights with electrical components, while technical concerns arise out of site preservation as well as ensuring the day-to-day operations of the customer are not hindered during the installation.
To help manufacturing companies implement solar plants in compliance with their stringent safety standards, Cleantech Solar has its proprietary protocols and procedures that are presented and discussed with the customer prior to the installation activities on site. These are then tailored as per site-specific requirements to ensure compliance with the customer safety requirements and operational constraints. The main components of our protocol and process control are high-quality safety equipment such as lifelines, walkways and handrails, along with strict adherence to industry best practices such as maintaining a minimum exclusion zone from the edges of the roof, a buddy-system for  all works performed, demarcated work areas and constant on-site oversight by Cleantech Solar’s project management team. Cleantech Solar follows the hierarchy of control with respect to health & safety and to drive electrical safety, only fully qualified electrical workers are permitted to work on or near exposed energized parts. In addition, Cleantech Solar’s design also implements global practices that minimize risks associated with electrical works through the implementation of redundancies and best practices such as ‘lightning loops’, which are unique to Cleantech Solar’s plants in India.
Site preservation is critical to the smooth operations of the customer’s business activities. To address this, Cleantech Solar conducts necessary structural analysis of the roof to ensure its stability with solar loads and conducts a pre-construction survey that documents all defects present on the roof so that the same can be rectified to ensure the longevity of the roof. During installation, all man and material movements are restricted to temporary and/or permanent walkways to ensure the load capacity of the roof is not exceeded and the roof condition is preserved.
The Cleantech Solar project management philosophy facilitates continuous feedback and improvement throughout the project installation cycle. By virtue of our industry-leading practices and processes, Cleantech Solar has been able to build a highly trusted brand and a solid track record of delivering safe, reliable and repeatable solar projects for the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Eshan Cholia Managing Director Sunfraa Renewables LLP


Solar installation at manufacturing industries comes with its own set of challenges. The first and the biggest challenge is identification of potential spaces for installation as in a manufacturing industry there are boilers and chimneys installed which disperse immense ash residues which can directly affect the PV Modules. Sometimes the orientation of the roof is not South facing in such cases we have no other choice but to install modules as per the roof orientation which in turn affects the overall generation. Sometimes in old manufacturing units, asbestos sheets are installed instead of galvanized roof. Solar  Module installation on asbestos sheet is unsafe as it is more prone to breakage. One more challenge which most of the EPC faces is the access to the roof. Sometimes the roofs are so high that it becomes difficult during installation, lifting of panels and also during maintenance. The other difficulty during installation is that we have to make sure that there is not water leakage due to drilling of structure. For this we have to match the structure with the existing structure of the manufacturing unit which limits the orientation of panels. Also there are sunlight roofs installed which we have to make sure is not covered with the PV modules and there are exhaust fans which again limits the space for installation. Earthing is a major challenge as most of the industries which we have worked have PCC roads throughout the unit. Digging through PCC requires specialized breaker and manpower and time as JCB machines cannot reach interior areas. So these are few major challenges faced in installation over manufacturing units.

Mr. Nitin Sabikhi Asst. Vice President - Business Development Indian Energy Exchange

Industrial consumers are now blessed with a plethora of options when it comes to power portfolio management. Earlier they were confined to either Discom supply or captive generation. With the advent of Exchange, they were given access to the market based competitive prices. Imposition of various tariff and operational barrier did slow down the growth of open access segment. Lately, falling prices complemented with generous public policies made renewable a blue eyed boy and now everyone wants RE in their energy pie. In fact the convergence of conventional and renewable power prices is nudging industries to compare them on commercially level playing field also.
Although. the large scale grid connected RE projects set up under competitive bidding, with waiver of ISTS transmission losses and charges, are allocated to Discoms only. As a result, Industries are left with an option to either go for third party (interstate or intrastate) or captive. Such interstate transactions will have no waivers/exemptions and RE project has to purely compete on the energy cost. In case of intra-state, currently freebees in form  of banking, waiver of transmission and other OA charges are being extended however the long term visibility of such exemptions is not provided, hence the viability of the project is always uncertain.
All said and done, one cannot be oblivious of the fact that intermittency of renewables is absorbed by Discoms through banking provisions. It was manageable till the time renewable had a smaller pie in the total generation mix. With this pie expected to be dominant in the near future such preferential treatment may not be a sustainable option for long and eventually will fade away. With such a scenario in hindsight industries may find it really tough to commit for a longer duration PPA on the other hand developer may not be in a position to accept a shorter duration PPA as it put its capacity at financial risk. It is of utmost importance for an industry to take an informed decision and create a portfolio of available options for power procurement and try to leverage all options which complement its energy need and load profile. It is worth mentioning here that Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) plan to introduce Green power market which will facilitate industries to buy bundled power to meet their energy needs and also RPO compliance.
One important question which still needs retrospection whether industries want to go for ‘green power’ as a sustainability measure or ‘cheaper green power’ as economical measure.










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