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Leandro Sancho 18-Oct-2022 08:45:00 3 min read

Quality is crucial for solar project acceptance processes

Following best practice processes for solar PV acceptance stages will ensure your project is contractually compliant and safe for operation.

Increasing investor confidence in the long-term viability of solar systems through establishing best practices for PV system installation, acceptance, and operation is paramount.

Acceptance is a critical part of the solar system development process for any PV system owner. Before the handover to commercial operations can begin, solar systems must pass a set of acceptance and performance tests conducted by the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor. The process of solar PV acceptance ensures that photovoltaic systems are safe for operation, can remain compliant with environmental and planning requirements, meet design and performance objectives, and that any tests meet contractual requirements. Owners will typically only sign the acceptance certificate and formally take over the system once it meets all these requirements. The signing of the acceptance certificate confirms that the site is free of defects, or any open points are agreed upon and settled accordingly.

The handover of projects generates vast amounts of documentation and technical information, which can be challenging and time-consuming for owners and investors to manage. Our team of solar PV experts offer expert guidance to evaluate complex documentation to ensure quality control and full compliance with contractual obligations.

 

European Acceptance Processes

Solar PV acceptance requires more than a single step due to the complexity of the projects. In the European market, acceptance involves three key stages, provisional acceptance (PAC), intermediate acceptance (IAC) and final acceptance (FAC).

Provisional Acceptance

Provisional acceptance is an official form of conditional acceptance, meaning that the client has accepted the project, but performance needs to be verified or confirmed under operational conditions within an agreed period. The client issues a Provisional Acceptance Certificate (PAC) as evidence of this step in the acceptance process. The PAC underpins the O&M (operations and maintenance) agreement and is vital because a plant’s investors (such as banks) need this certificate to demonstrate the official date from when a warranty begins. From the point of the PAC, the company operating and maintaining the PV plant becomes the responsible party for maintenance. A Punch List (PL) is issued to highlight any remaining defects for the EPC Contractor to resolve. A retention fee can be associated with the PL items.

Intermediate Acceptance

Intermediate acceptance tests are carried out at the end of each year of the warranty period to assess compliance with the agreed guaranteed Performance Ratio ((PR) – and therefore the guaranteed energy) and the guaranteed value of availability. These annual intermediate PR tests are crucial to check the PV plant performance, as they do not include seasonal bias like short-term testing at the provisional acceptance stage If the measured PR is below the guaranteed levels, the EPC Contractor must pay performance Liquidated Damages (LDs) to the owner as compensation for revenue losses. Another PL will be issued as part of the intermediate acceptance tests.

Final Acceptance

The Final Acceptance Certificate (FAC) is an official confirmation that the operational performance of a solar PV plant is in line with the expectations signed in the PAC. A vital part of the final acceptance stage involves assessing equipment. Quintas Advisory can support you by carrying out LV visits to assess equipment functionality in preparation for final acceptance. Our team can also support HV (high voltage) audits by engaging with external experts and working collaboratively to solve any existing defects in preparation for acquiring the FAC. If the final acceptance tests are successful, the asset owner issues the FAC, which marks that full responsibility of the plant is now in the hands of the asset owner It is essential to confirm that no issues are present that may compromise the lifespan of an asset. In some cases, the owner will undertake additional tests to demonstrate the health status of the equipment or the installation.

 

Effectively tackle the complex challenges of acceptance processes

A proper and complete set of documentation is crucial to the effective management of the life cycle of a PV plant. Ensure your renewable energy facility documentation is fully in line with all plans, designs, regulations, and specifications with the support of our team of experts from Quintas Advisory. We will guide you through the process of acceptance tests to safeguard your project’s contractual quality standards. We can also assist you in setting up and evaluating your project’s contractual performance.

Discover how our Quintas Advisory team can support your solar PV acceptance journey.

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Leandro Sancho

Leandro has a broad technical skillset, inherited from his role as an asset manager at Quintas Energy and as a construction manager in the EPC industry.