How does OCI Solar Power choose locations for new projects?
One of the most important considerations for choosing a site is selecting a location on the power grid where power is needed and where the solar power plant can effectively interconnect to the power grid. In addition, we select sites in communities that indicate an interest and willingness to collaborate during the development process. In many instances we work with a local community at the very beginning stages to ensure that the community’s interests and desires are taken into consideration when selecting a site.
What is the process for building a solar power facility?
Initially, a project starts by working with local Independent System Operators (organizations that control and monitor the operation of a state’s electrical power system) to make sure it will be feasible to connect to the grid. This assessment phase can take almost a year. During this time, OCI Solar Power collaborates with local communities and zoning officials, solicits community input and also works with state and federal agencies to make sure that the project is being designed to comply with appropriate zoning and environmental regulations, and to ensure that community interests and desires are incorporated into the project design.
In addition, we may seek to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a utility or large industrial customer whereby that entity agrees to purchase the electricity from the facility. This process can also take about a year. Once the PPA is in place and we have received local zoning, permitting and environmental approvals, detailed engineering and other initial construction preparations can be completed. Before construction begins, a project must also have appropriate financing in place. We work with various financial institutions to structure financing for each project.
How long does construction typically take?
Construction can take between 6 months and 12 months depending on the scope of the project.
How much does it cost to build a solar power facility?
A 3 MW facility such as the projects OCI Solar Power is building in New Jersey can have a total cost of about $15 million.
Do utility-scale projects use the same kind of solar panels that are used on individual houses?
Yes. The solar panels utilize the same technology that can be installed on houses. And at a very basic level, it is also the same technology that powers solar calculators and watches, although on a much larger scale.
How tall are solar panels and what do they look like?
A solar panel looks very much like a window frame. Each panel is approximately 3 feet wide by 5 feet long. Series of panels at facilities are mounted in rows with the top of the panels reaching about ten feet above the ground. Depending on the size of the solar power plant there are tens of thousands of panels in multiple rows, spaced to allow for maintenance and cleaning access.