Guide to Choose the Right Solar Developer

Below we have listed a few key points that an organisation needs to look into and figure out before tying up with a solar developer. Let’s discuss them.

Build or Buy?
One key question to consider is whether to invest in building the solar plant yourself (“capex model”) or to simply buy solar power from a solar developer which will set up the plant on your roof at their investment (“opex” or “build-own-operate” model). In case you are not sure which model to opt for, contact CleanMax Solar for expert advice.

While each model has advantages, most large corporates world-wide have opted for the build-own-operate model, for a few key reasons:

  • Non-core investment: Large corporates typically prefer to invest their capital in their core business, and not in power generation
  • Pay for outcomes, avoid risks: Why take the technical risks of plant performance and longevity, when you can instead pay only for power received?
  • Incentive alignment: Solar developers are well incentivised to make the right technical and operational decisions, since they earn only from power revenue, and pay for all equipment replacement

Look for a one stop solution and not à la carte
Another advantage of the build-own-operate model is that the solar developer will manage the entire design, engineering, execution and operation and maintenance of the plant, right down to cleaning the solar panels. Rather than adding another responsibility to its facilities or maintenance teams, most large corporates have found that a better approach is to outsource to a single, professional solar developer which will manage financing, designing, feasibility study etc. Not only will this help you save efforts and resources, but also aid with better coordination and will improve the performance of the solar plant.

The types of solar power systems available
As solar technology has grown over time, various types of solar panels and plants have emerged on the horizon. It’s a tricky job to understand which one suits your needs best. For example there are solar farms requiring huge land parcels to be developed). And in a space crunch situation, a rooftop plant works best and avoids transmission losses and charges, while also minimising the government approvals required. A rooftop plant not only optimises your vacant idle space but also keeps the plant underneath cool since the panels on top cut direct exposure to sunlight).

Also, an organisation has to take a call on whether to opt for a grid-tied solar system which is the easiest and most popular way to get started. Battery-backed systems can be useful in specific circumstances, but are very costly and require more maintenance and space.

Maintenance: a key component
Effective operation and maintenance will maximise the output from a solar power plant and also extend the system life. There are two ways of approaching the maintenance part. In the “capex model”, you will need to sign an operations and maintenance contract, and set up your own team to monitor the contractor. If you are looking for maintenance-free solar plant, speak with experts from CleanMax Solar.

In the build-own-operate model, the solar developer will maintain the plant on your behalf, and you can just sit back and reap the benefits.

How you can monitor a plant’s performance
A qualified solar developer will have a sophisticated remote monitoring system that closely tracks the plant performance and alerts it to any problems. A solar plant has no moving parts and is low-maintenance equipment, but it is still critical to closely monitor the cleaning cycle and immediately respond to any outages or under-performance.

Talk to an existing client
Last but certainly not the least, ask for references. Do not just go by what the solar company tells you! Always speak with people who have previously dealt with the developer. Look for testimonials and feedback on the company website. An existing client’s feedback is much more valuable than all the marketing collaterals and presentations by a sales executive.

Once you have the above points sorted, installing a solar plant will be a smooth sail. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s free. And most of all, it’s a very smart and green thing to do!

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