PV Structures: beyond structural design

Our Position

The Relative importance of solar structures within the investment of PV solar plants is getting a significant importance due to many factors related to PV sector’s evolution: tendency towards multi-Megawatt plants, increased competency because of global deceleration of PV sector in many markets and trend of lower prices of solar panels.Due to these reasons, Importance of solar structures with respect to manufacturing, assembly and maintenance costs becomes especially relevant within the total investment required for PV plants construction.

CADE counts on a privileged positioning within PV sector thanks to its broad experience, being a reference in development, advisory and expert consulting and engineering services throughout the value chain of solar PV. CADE is proud of its references and experiences with most of key players in the industry: Developers, Investors, Insurance companies, EPC contractors, Manufacturers, Plant operators, Maintenance companies or Plant owners.

Combination of a deep knowledge of the sector, use of sophisticated design-analysis tools and a broad experience of manufacturing and assembly processes, are the reasons because of which our products are distinguished in terms of competitiveness and reliability from our competence.

Design and Analysis

By means of the finite element analysis (FEA) we can get detailed models of several structures types, by evaluating and analyzing the global or detailed (welds and bolted joints) behavior of the structure. The objective is to obtain a weight reduction associated with a proper joint design due to the fact that bolted and welded joints are usually the most conflictive areas of the structures.  Our mechanical and design departments work side-by-side in order to obtain the most economic, reliable and productive design details.

CADE incorporates complex analyses related to failure prediction, reliability and availability (FMEA, FMECA, RAM, etc.) within its design methods. This methodology is commonly applied in sectors where manufacturing requirements are extremely demanding.

fea pequeña

Wind Tunnel Testing

The advanced knowledge of international design standards and codes concerning loads on structures allow us to determine the most unfavorable load type on each element of the structure.

Conducted researches have revealed that wind loads determined by standards and codes uses too conservative safety margins that imply additional cost of structure. By means of wind tunnel test we are able to reduce wind loads for the purpose to reduce overstressed areas in the structure and so material cost by guaranteeing

In a first stage CADE defines and participates in wind tunnel test in order to develop testing according to codes. In a second phase CADE postprocesses the results derived from the test and determines the final loads to be applied in the structural analysis.

ensayo wind tunnel web

Actuators and Driving Devices

In solar trackers, the drive systems have a high percentage in the total cost of the tracker. For that reason a good drive system selection implies a reduction on final costs.

On the other hand, and from a reliability point of view, the right selection and design of the drive system is a crucial factor in order to ensure a good tracker operation and therefore a cost reduction derived from the maintenance operations, maximizing the availability and reliability of the plant.

In a first stage CADE defines and participates in wind tunnel test in order to develop testing according to codes. In a second phase CADE postprocesses the results derived from the test and determines the final loads to be applied in the structural analysis.

Foundations and Anchorage systems

In addition to structure costs, the foundation or anchorage systems needed to set the structure into the ground constitute an important percentage of the final cost of the tracker, which must be borne by the owner or EPC´s.

A proper selection of foundation or anchorage system (concrete foundations, micropiles, structure pillar stuck in the ground…) implies a large reduction of the final cost derived from materials, labor and assembly process.

Design to cost. Lean Manufacturing

Cost reduction is not only linked to structural material reduction. The effectuation of a design focused on an unexpensive, flexible and mass producted implies a direct reduction of product associated costs.

CADE’s underpinned experience in special structures design, assembly processes, fabrication tools and simulation (Jig/Tooling) allows us to adapt the design to the manufacturer optimal capabilities which are available by our clients, considering even the implementation of offshore production.

Moreover, the election of modular-designed, easily mounting structures is essential to reduce assembly and maintenance costs.

Defining a fabrication process based on lean manufacturing according to actual fashion will imply a production cost reduction which affects directly the total structure cost.

Supply Chain

In order to get an optimized final product is also needed to incorporate the supply chain and logistic optimization in this process, noting the heavy volume production that shall be managed.

Modular, standardized designs are our basis of design in order to reduce transportation and storage costs; minimizing the provision waiting times that usually implies important extra-costs.