Designing a commercial-scale project is not as simple as filling a given plot with hundreds or thousands of representative blue rectangles. When properly executed, even a pre-sale design will account for criteria obtained from several third-party sources. Navigating the commercial-scale solar landscape can certainly be a daunting task when you have to jump through so many hoops.
We’ve created this brief list of project considerations to take into account when tackling a commercial-scale project. Depending on your company’s org chart and scope of work, some of these activities will occur pre-sale, while others will occur post-sale. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and your utility/AHJ may have additional requirements. However, having the majority of these points addressed will lend credibility to your project and show others that you have performed your due diligence.
Initial Electrical Walkthrough
Includes analyzing existing electrical equipment (specs, sizes) and taking lots of pictures
Note the service voltage, phase, etc
Gather a rough idea of where equipment will be located and tie-in
Additional Considerations for Buildings:
Structural walkthrough, again taking lots of pictures
Roof survey + sample if necessary
Additional Considerations for Ground Mounts and Carports:
Environmental review and impact analysis
Title report and ALTA survey
Interconnection Study and Pre-application Due Diligence
Based on available space (physically and electrically), where will solar tie-in?
Are there utility limits/constraints on the DC or AC system size?
Preliminary Equipment Selection
Based on what we know about the site, what modules/inverters/racking/BOS equipment is preferred?
Be aware of longer lead time items (typically modules or inverters)
Financial Estimates and Modeling
Model simple payback, ROI, IRR, LCOE, etc. taking available incentives and tax credits into account
Consider commercial-scale BESS (battery energy storage systems) if you have significant demand charges, unfavorable time-of-use rates, etc.
Preliminary Design and Proposal
Synthesizing all of the above, create a full preliminary design and a comprehensive proposal that can be presented to the customer