JPEA Publishes ‘Evaluation Guide’ for Solar Power Plants

Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA) published the “Evaluation Guide for Solar Power Generation Projects” June 29, 2018.

JPEA formulated the guide as indexes for evaluating the risk related to the continuity of power generation business, which is necessary for (1) soundly spreading the use of solar power as a long-term, stable power source so that solar power generation can be a main power source and (2) activating the secondary trade (sale and purchase) of solar power plants in stable operation, which is expected to increase in the future.

The guide was formulated by the “Committee for Formulating the Evaluation Guide for Solar Power Generation Projects” (office: JPEA), which consists of people from various fields including not only solar power generation but also finance, insurance and science.

Since the feed-in tariff (FIT) policy for renewable energy-based power generation started, there have been some power generation businesses being run without enough expertise, especially in the case of solar power plants. Some sites are not appropriately operated in terms of safety and maintenance of power generation capacity, and they are considered as problems.

Especially, there are about 470,000 solar power plants (total output: about 12GW) that transmit 10kW or more of electricity to a power grid and are connected to a low-voltage (less-than-50kW) power transmission line. In many cases, they are personally owned.

Some point out that, due to inappropriate design, construction, etc, there are risks related not only to appropriate operation during the FIT-based purchasing period but also to continuous operation after the end of the period and reinvestment necessary for the continuous operation.

Therefore, JPEA considered that it is necessary to make a guide for evaluating an entire power generation project including civil engineering, structure, land and title, in addition to PV facility-related technical guidelines that JPEA has already announced.

The use of the new guide clarifies measures necessary for entire facilities, resulting in the reduction of initial investment (for engineering, installation work, etc) and the promotion of appropriate maintenance, JPEA said.

The major evaluation items of the guide are (1) titles for power generation business such as power generation, power transmission and business site as well as procedures including regulations related to the use of business sites (land and rights), (2) check of the appearances of site, ground, retaining wall, etc and the states of foundation, mounting system, drainage, etc (civil engineering and structure) and (3) documents related to electricity and the completion of construction, design of electricity, devices to be installed and the design of power generation systems (power generation facilities).

In regard to the evaluation procedure, when the evaluation of a power generation business is requested for selling/buying the business, for example, the business (facility) ID and location of the solar power plant to be evaluated are checked first.

Then, the primary and secondary evaluations are conducted to select evaluation items in accordance with the purpose of the evaluation and decide the details of the evaluation for each evaluation item. Necessary documents are prepared and checked, and on-site check, research and measurement are conducted when necessary.

After that, a report about the results of the evaluation is made, including an overview, detailed list and detailed explanation. If a part that needs to be repaired is found, negotiations will be held with the customer as early as possible. In this way, the customer who requested the evaluation can understand the state of the power generation business and decide to sell, purchase, maintain/inspect or repair a solar power plant based on the results.

In the aim of spreading the use of the new evaluation guide, JPEA intends to publish it online and plan/have related seminars and training courses.

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