It would be unfair to reference either the blue chip end client or the now defunct EPC who completed the installation, but I think that it would be reasonable to assume that this major utilities company had no real understanding about the initial system installed or the requirements for ground surveys, wind loadings, etc.
Sunfixings had been contacted by one of their customers in August 2017 with a view to surveying the damage and designing / supplying a suitable and fit-for-purpose replacement segment for part of a 700kWp system which had come out of the ground. Evidence in the form of the photograph at the top of this article illustrates that some piles had only been embedded into the ground circa 500mm, meaning it came as no surprise that this part of the system had failed, Sunfixings subsequently designed a 2 leg replacement pile system requiring 1.5m embedment, with the pile legs of a much thicker guage steel and using quality aluminium rails for the panels to be clamped to.
Sunfixings also attended site to ensure the new sub-contract installers were happy with the way the new kit was to be installed, also meeting a representative from the end client, to oversee all. The removal of the majority of the existing piles and the replacement 88 panels (11 x 4 panels landscape) were piled, railed and installed in just over 2 days, demonstrating great efficiency on undulating ground.
The over-riding concern here is that we have seen time and time again ground and roof systems fail due to poor quality mounting system design, supply and install. Here at Sunfixings it is a weekly occurrence to be requested to visit a site where either another mounting kit manufacturers’ system has failed, or has been installed incorrectly. We offer full technical support and training to support our products, we are happy to visit site pre and post install and can offer comprehensive 10 year Goods AND Systems Warranties, if installed correctly and to our specification. We will happily issue project specific Sign Off documentation, too.
It is essential that the appetite for commercial PV deployment is not depressed further in the UK…the end client in question here has had multiple MW installed already and has many more sites ripe for installation, but, quite rightly they are reviewing how they do it after having their fingers significantly burnt on more than one occasion.