European Union Energy Initiative (EUEI)

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Dust mitigation key part of plant engineering and construction for PV plants in USA

As the appetite for utility-scale solar increases across the USA, solar plants are being developed  on more unusual terrains. Recent work in Arizona’s Antelope Valley has led to serious concerns over large dust clouds affecting local residents’ health and quality of life.

With high GHI rates  in the area, and a desire to reduce costs by siting as close to the existing transmission infrastructure, plants are increasingly located closer to communities. After multiple fines, incursions and mitigations, tensions have eased between the local community, Kern County Planning Department and developers including First Solar and Recurrent Energy amongst others.

Recent innovations to reduce the amount of dust created include keeping more plants in the ground wherever possible as they act as anchors to prevent the erosion of the soil and the loosening to the top layers. Secondly, ground for racking and be levelled using GPS rather than large scale earth moving. Grading should also be done in stages rather than over a short space of time and requires more biodegradable palliatives can avoid degradation and erosion.  Winds of 70mph can lead to large dust clouds which will also hamper the performance of modules when the plants are in operation.

Dust prevention measures are often a diversion from the standard processes that EPC companies are used to following and thus may incur further costs. Sharing experience, advice and continually reacting to the local environment of the plant will yield the efficiency gains and improve the development process. As has been demonstrated by Antelope valley and several other sites, preventative processes and innovation are more cost-effective than halts in construction which can last over a month or more.

At Utility-scale PV Plant Optimization 2013 (25-26 September, San Jose), the nation’s leading developers and EPC companies such as SunEdison, SunPower, First Solar, Juwi Solar, Belectric and NRG Energy  will share their tips for overcoming dust in construction and in operation as well as other climate variables such as snow, hail and flooding.

For more information, visit: 

Event contact:

Letty Thomas

PV Insider

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Info posted by

Bea Gonzalez
21 August 2013

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