Quality and Safety: The Behind-the-scene Stars of Solar EPC
The solar industry tends to consider the speed of execution as a demonstration of EPC strength. In reality, its the quality and safety standards employed that stands as a model of EPC strength and helps in delivering maximum value over the life of the solar plant.
Power or electricity is one of the most critical constituents of infrastructure that affects the economic growth and well-being of countries. While India is the fifth largest producer of electricity in the world, we also happen to be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. As a result, the country is focusing on balancing its power generation from conventional sources such as coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydro and nuclear power with viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar, and agricultural and domestic waste.
Among the diversified sources, solar power has been the fastest developing industry with increasing investments and favourable government policies. With its growing popularity and cost attractiveness, stressing on quality and safe infrastructure has become of utmost importance. The success of all renewable energy projects lies in its quality and sustenance. After all, the true benefits of solar systems can be reaped only over 25 years. Over these 25 years, quality is an important ingredient that assures safety and reliability.
Enough importance hasn’t been placed on quality and safety due to rising price concerns. These misunderstood associations have put many projects at risk in the past, and once those alliances predictably failed, they ended up costing more than the price of the project. Short project timeframes and budgets can be challenging but there is no substitute for quality and safety. Quality and safety assessments thus have to be effectively implemented in order to avoid corrective actions and the surprising cost of poor quality. Poor quality not only impacts cost and time spent, but also impacts operation and maintenance activities. Pre-engineered products with stringent quality standards and competitive and competent solar EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) services should thus be used to ensure that quality and safety standards are constantly maintained.
Quality in solar projects is not just limited to that of the components used in the plant. It also applies to the quality of the civil and electrical workmanship. Quality workmanship is not something that should be left to the sole discretion of your sub-contractors. Solar EPCs must deploy their quality teams to engage with these contractors right from the start and ensure that sufficient quality considerations have gone into the design stage. Subsequent to this, regular reviews must be conducted, on the quality of the material being used to even stage-wise inspections during execution. While such quality reviews may extend the project execution timeline marginally, the advantage of such an approach is manifold. After all, quality should be clearly visible even 10 years into the life of your solar plant.
Safety at solar projects, inclusive of general power safety requirements, requires more than the mere knowledge of safety protocols; it requires the ability to evaluate unique situations in real-time to actively create safe work practices. Setting up lifelines on rooftops and ensuring use of personal protective equipment may seem trivial, but they go a long way in driving safety as a culture and ensuring zero-incident project sites. Ensuring that such rules are enforced and adhered to should be one of the prime concerns for market players. The industry is constantly developing best practices and pursuing industry solutions to ensure that responsible business practices among solar EPCs are adhered to. At Bosch, considering the nature of its projects, we adhere to stringent safety and quality standards at every step of the process, be it design, development, manufacturing, storage, operations or maintenance. Developing a culture of quality and safety thus helps sustain world-class business performance for solar energy initiatives.
Venugopalan C M