One of the most expensive impacts on the development of a solar farm is a completion setback. When issues arise in construction, the operational date of a solar farm can be delayed dramatically, causing significant increases in cost.
When it comes to the installation of piles, unexpected on-site geotechnical conditions can lead to significant increases in install time of the project. This increase can result in a 50 – 300% rise in original allowance costs and a potential project completion set back of many months depending on the size of the farm.
Geotechnical reporting even at its best is limited to minimal sampling over large scale solar farm project sites. On-site soil sampling tests are conducted to identify the soil conditions of the various sections of the solar farm site. The problem is soil variances can occur in a matter of metres, while each soil sampling test commonly measures one sample which is used for many acres of land.
One solution to this problem is to employ a pile design methodology that caters for all of the potential extremities of a given site. The geotechnical environments that commonly relate to these problems are unexpected rock, very hard layers, or overly soft soils such as loose sand or weak clays.
We determine an optimised pile design from comprehensive site observations that can deal with differences in soil profiles by way of a single multi-purpose pile, or 2 to 3 different pile types.
From our experience, a single utility scale site can vary from areas as soft as loose sand, to areas as hard as rock .
To deal with this kind of site, a traditional beam with our unique install process was used to cater for the rock areas, while patented add-on accessories were applied to the beams to cater for softer areas. We have install methodologies that allow for transitions between the two extreme soil conditions.
In any case, it is important to have a correct, comprehensive pile design completed with an appropriate installation system to match. Solar Pile International and its partners are proud to offer a wide array of solutions for all kinds of solar farm sites and geotechnical environments.
Written by Solar Pile International.