renewable energy, solar wind hydro feasibility development
ACCESS Renewable Energy Ltd.
© WEC Ltd; ACCESS Renewable Energy Ltd. 2006 - 2017.  Registered Trade name: ACCESS Renewables.

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Useful renewable energy information.

Renewable energy project feasibility basics Where to start? What to consider? How to go about it? Questions abound when the topic turns to how to determine the best renewable energy solutions for a site.  And depending on who you speak to, the responses might be very different - speak to a solar energy supplier and not surprisingly his/her solution is shining from above, speak to a hydro engineer or a wind turbine supplier/ expert and their solutions always seem to be either flowing downstream or blowing in the wind. The list goes on, accountant, land developer, biologist, banker, project manager, all have different answers!  For someone seeking honest answers it can be pretty frustrating, or worse, get misguided and make poor investment decisions. Hence this Renewable energy project feasibility basics 5 part series.  The series will outline some basic aspects of a typical renewable energy feasibility analysis, start to finish. The topics covered here is not aimed at providing site specific solutions, but rather to guide readers through key aspects of an objective, unbiased renewable energy feasibility analysis. The 5 parts are: 1. Introduction 2. Technical and Technological aspects 3. Organisational and Regulatory aspects 4. Social and Environmental aspects 5. Economic and Financial aspects Part 1: Introduction. Goals and objectives Before you get into doing a renewable energy feasibility study and potential project, you have to know what your goals and objectives are, what is the end purpose, how do you want to achieve it?  A company wanting to “green” its image will have different goals and objectives from an investment firm looking for the best return on investment, same for a small remote community wanting to reduce direct energy costs vs a larger municipality which might be more interested in increasing sustainability or long-term secure investment and income.  In short, it helps set the scope for the feasibility study. Defining your goals and objectives also defines your success/failure criteria. These are the criteria you will use to support the “go / no-go” decision when reviewing the completed feasibility analysis, and ultimately project success. If you are unsure as to how to define realistic goals and objectives, a good (unbiased!) renewable energy consultant will be able to help you with that.  Note, it is important that if you use outside help (e.g. consultants) for this, that they are trusted, independent advisers, not affiliated to any specific technology, otherwise the criteria are likely to be biased. Study scope Having defined the goals and objectives will help you determine the scope of the feasibility analysis.  The scope is the focus - what to include and what to exclude. A renewable energy project feasibility analysis can be very basic or very detailed and comprehensive - and everything in between. Because scope varies so much, the norm is for two categories of feasibility analysis: 1. A preliminary feasibility analysis; and 2. A full/comprehensive feasibility analysis. Doing a pre-feasibility analysis is usually more suitable for when a potential project is first approached and: Little is known on what renewable resource options are available and which renewable energy technologies might work; You are unsure as to which rules and regulations apply, about any environmental impacts and who your stakeholders are; A rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost estimate is sufficient. A ROM estimate typically has an accuracy of about plus or minus 50%. Experienced renewable energy consultants should get better estimate accuracy. A detailed financial analysis is not required. A full/comprehensive feasibility analysis is better when: Basic renewable resource options have been determined and there is a good indication as to which renewable energy technologies might work; You have a basic understanding as to which rules and regulations apply, of potential environmental impacts and you have a fair idea of who your stakeholders might be; You would like to determine the cost to an accuracy of plus or minus 25% or better. You would like a more detailed financial analysis and financial forecast. If you have a lot of uncertainty as to what to include and what not, working with a qualified renewable energy consultant will be of great value here. Time and cost One more thing you need to consider ahead of time is how much time and money to spend on a feasibility study. As you can expect the more detailed a feasibility study is the more time it will take and the more it will cost. How to balance time and cost? The answer is value, and will depend to a large extent on the goals and objectives of the study. Here are some examples to help you determine value: If you would like to determine whether wind turbines are a feasible option, good reliable wind data is needed. If there is no pre-recorded data, wind data should ideally be recorded for at least 1 year - or the feasibility analysis will not be of much value. If your project site is in or near an environmentally sensitive area, stakeholder questions on potential environmental impacts are likely even at the start - so adding some environmental aspects to a pre-feasibility study would be good value - and potentially save a lot of time later. If you are considering selling power back to the grid - including an energy storage analysis could add a lot of value for little extra cost. If the organisation you work with only makes investment decisions where there is a lot of certainty/low risk, a basic pre-feasibility study might not provide enough value. If little is known about the available renewable resources, doing an in-depth analysis from the start could be poor value - time and money wasted. In the end, this is all about striking the right balance to get the most value out of a feasibility study! Planning a little ahead will go a long way. Using consultants The last point in the Renewable energy feasibility analysis basics Introduction is about working with consultants. Let’s be honest here, consultant and lawyer jokes abound because there is often some truth to them! How to sort the good from the bad and the ugly? Below are some handy pointers to help you along the way when selecting a consultant: Ask to see examples of previous feasibility reports of similar scope. If you can’t make heads or tails of it, then what’s the use? The purpose of a feasibility analysis is to determine whether something is viable or not - getting a negative response might not be nice, but often indicates an honest response when it comes to renewable energy. You’ve considered the basics discussed above, i.e. you have a good idea on what your goals and objectives are, approximate scope and how much money and effort the outcome is worth - does what the consultant say compliment/ add value to that? Or is it only adding value to the consultant’s fee? No one knows everything. Not even Google. This is especially true when it comes to renewable energy projects, which are often very unique. A solar PV expert is not necessarily a wind expert. Someone used to working on 20 MW utility scale projects is seldom the right person for working on a 50 kW net- metering  project. Good consultants will work with the right experts, and know where to look for answers. Bigger is not always better,  is especially true for renewable energy consulting firms. Because renewable energy is so varied and specialized, keeping all the expertise under one roof is very expensive - meaning high overhead - and often result in cookie-cutter reports, aimed more at cost efficiency for their shareholder profit, than at your bottom-line or stakeholder benefit.  Lastly, when dealing with people, trust your gut instinct, it is seldom wrong!       Next, Part 2: Technical and Technological aspects.
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renewable energy feasibility analysis renewable energy project development goals and objectives renewable energy feasibility project scope VALUE working with consultants
microgrid, remote community, solar wind hydro feasibility site investigation project development
ACCESS Renewable Energy Ltd.
© WEC Ltd; ACCESS Renewable Energy Ltd. 2016.  Registered Trade name: ACCESS Renewables.

Information

Useful renewable energy

information.

Renewable energy project feasibility basics Where to start? What to consider? How to go about it? Questions abound when the topic turns to how to determine the best renewable energy solutions for a site.  And depending on who you speak to, the responses might be very different - speak to a solar energy supplier and not surprisingly his/her solution is shining from above, speak to a hydro engineer or a wind turbine supplier/ expert and their solutions always seem to be either flowing downstream or blowing in the wind. The list goes on, accountant, land developer, biologist, banker, project manager, all have different answers!  For someone seeking honest answers it can be pretty frustrating, or worse, get misguided and make poor investment decisions. Hence this Renewable energy project feasibility basics 5 part series.  The series will outline some basic aspects of a typical renewable energy feasibility analysis, start to finish. The topics covered here is not aimed at providing site specific solutions, but rather to guide readers through key aspects of an objective, unbiased renewable energy feasibility analysis. The 5 parts are: 1. Introduction 2. Technical and Technological aspects 3. Organisational and Regulatory aspects 4. Social and Environmental aspects 5. Economic and Financial aspects Part 1: Introduction. Goals and objectives Before you get into doing a renewable energy feasibility study and potential project, you have to know what your goals and objectives are, what is the end purpose, how do you want to achieve it?  A company wanting to “green” its image will have different goals and objectives from an investment firm looking for the best return on investment, same for a small remote community wanting to reduce direct energy costs vs a larger municipality which might be more interested in increasing sustainability or long-term secure investment and income.  In short, it helps set the scope for the feasibility study. Defining your goals and objectives also defines your success/failure criteria. These are the criteria you will use to support the “go / no-go” decision when reviewing the completed feasibility analysis, and ultimately project success. If you are unsure as to how to define realistic goals and objectives, a good (unbiased!) renewable energy consultant will be able to help you with that.  Note, it is important that if you use outside help (e.g. consultants) for this, that they are trusted, independent advisers, not affiliated to any specific technology, otherwise the criteria are likely to be biased. Study scope Having defined the goals and objectives will help you determine the scope of the feasibility analysis.  The scope is the focus - what to include and what to exclude. A renewable energy project feasibility analysis can be very basic or very detailed and comprehensive - and everything in between. Because scope varies so much, the norm is for two categories of feasibility analysis: 1. A preliminary feasibility analysis; and 2. A full/comprehensive feasibility analysis. Doing a pre-feasibility analysis is usually more suitable for when a potential project is first approached and: Little is known on what renewable resource options are available and which renewable energy technologies might work; You are unsure as to which rules and regulations apply, about any environmental impacts and who your stakeholders are; A rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost estimate is sufficient. A ROM estimate typically has an accuracy of about plus or minus 50%. Experienced renewable energy consultants should get better estimate accuracy. A detailed financial analysis is not required. A full/comprehensive feasibility analysis is better when: Basic renewable resource options have been determined and there is a good indication as to which renewable energy technologies might work; You have a basic understanding as to which rules and regulations apply, of potential environmental impacts and you have a fair idea of who your stakeholders might be; You would like to determine the cost to an accuracy of plus or minus 25% or better. You would like a more detailed financial analysis and financial forecast. If you have a lot of uncertainty as to what to include and what not, working with a qualified renewable energy consultant will be of great value here. Time and cost One more thing you need to consider ahead of time is how much time and money to spend on a feasibility study. As you can expect the more detailed a feasibility study is the more time it will take and the more it will cost. How to balance time and cost? The answer is value, and will depend to a large extent on the goals and objectives of the study. Here are some examples to help you determine value: If you would like to determine whether wind turbines are a feasible option, good reliable wind data is needed. If there is no pre-recorded data, wind data should ideally be recorded for at least 1 year - or the feasibility analysis will not be of much value. If your project site is in or near an environmentally sensitive area, stakeholder questions on potential environmental impacts are likely even at the start - so adding some environmental aspects to a pre-feasibility study would be good value - and potentially save a lot of time later. If you are considering selling power back to the grid - including an energy storage analysis could add a lot of value for little extra cost. If the organisation you work with only makes investment decisions where there is a lot of certainty/low risk, a basic pre-feasibility study might not provide enough value. If little is known about the available renewable resources, doing an in-depth analysis from the start could be poor value - time and money wasted. In the end, this is all about striking the right balance to get the most value out of a feasibility study! Planning a little ahead will go a long way. Using consultants The last point in the Renewable energy feasibility analysis basics Introduction is about working with consultants. Let’s be honest here, consultant and lawyer jokes abound because there is often some truth to them! How to sort the good from the bad and the ugly? Below are some handy pointers to help you along the way when selecting a consultant: Ask to see examples of previous feasibility reports of similar scope. If you can’t make heads or tails of it, then what’s the use? The purpose of a feasibility analysis is to determine whether something is viable or not - getting a negative response might not be nice, but often indicates an honest response when it comes to renewable energy. You’ve considered the basics discussed above, i.e. you have a good idea on what your goals and objectives are, approximate scope and how much money and effort the outcome is worth - does what the consultant say compliment/ add value to that? Or is it only adding value to the consultant’s fee? No one knows everything. Not even Google. This is especially true when it comes to renewable energy projects, which are often very unique. A solar PV expert is not necessarily a wind expert. Someone used to working on 20 MW utility scale projects is seldom the right person for working on a 50 kW net-metering  project. Good consultants will work with the right experts, and know where to look for answers. Bigger is not always better,  is especially true for renewable energy consulting firms. Because renewable energy is so varied and specialized, keeping all the expertise under one roof is very expensive - meaning high overhead - and often result in cookie-cutter reports, aimed more at cost efficiency for their shareholder profit, than at your bottom-line or stakeholder benefit.  Lastly, when dealing with people, trust your gut instinct, it is seldom wrong!       Next, Part 2: Technical and Technological aspects.
renewable energy project development goals and objectives VALUE working with consultants
Français