Design Improvements: Overcoming challenges in EPC implementation

By Simarpreet Singh, Founder and CEO, Hartek Solar Private Limited

With discussions about sustainable development becoming mainstream in India, the importance of adapting renewable energy has taken on vital relevance, and solar power has a crucial role to play. In this context, India has set an ambitious goal of installing 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, including 280 GW of solar power. While the development of solar energy brings forth myriad opportunities, certain challenges tend to arise in the implementation of solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). These bottlene­cks include issues related to land, engine­ering and maintenance, making it difficult to deliver projects at competitive costs and schedules. Let us discuss these challenges and the ways to effectively overcome them.

Land-related hurdles

Land is a crucial aspect of solar projects as these plants require substantial areas for installation. Ideally, in order to install a 1 MW solar plant, it requires more than five acres of land. Apart from the space issue, factors such as interconnection, geological and topographical limitations further im­pose constraints on available land. Therefore, it is evident that identifying and acquiring suitable land is a significant cha­llenge in solar EPC implementation.

Engineering challenges

The design and engineering activities of solar PV plants are critical for a project’s overall success. Prior to commencing the construction of a plant, design engineers carry out the major conceptualisation and engineering work at their workstations. At this stage, various engineering challenges arise pertaining to AC/DC capacity, de­sign temperature, installation stability, re­active power, capacity utilisation and minimising repair costs.

Maintenance issues

Utility substations and power evacuation systems are essential components of solar plant installations. The primary issu­es as­so­ciated with substations and transmission lines include uncontrolled reactive po­w­er demand, the lack of interconnection and the lack of space for modification. Fu­r­thermore, the integration of su­b­stantial so­lar electricity into the grid can pose significant concerns for maintaining grid stability.

Negating the challenges

The aforementioned challenges can be negated by three essential solutions: integrating solar into rooftops, adopting floating solar plants and establishing strategic third-party partnerships.

  • Integrating solar into rooftops: Buildings can produce clean energy by mounting solar panels on their roofs, thereby eli­minating the need for extra ground area and mitigating challenges related to la­nd acquisition. Additionally, rooftop so­l­ar systems reduce the necessity for lar­ge-scale solar farms that require sizable amounts of open space. Rooftop solar systems are more space efficient than traditional land conservation methods. With these installations, rooftops are converted into useful energy-generating assets, effectively maximising the utilisation of existing infrastructure. They al­so contribute to the establishment of a decentralised energy grid, which reliev­es pressure on centralised power generation and transmission facilities.
  • Adopting floating solar plants: Floating solar panels effectively address space-related challenges, thereby mitigating the issue of land acquisition. The cooling effect of the water also tends to en­hance the efficiency of the solar panels, resulting in higher electricity generation compared to other types of solar power plants. Moreover, floating solar plants can effectively make use of existing in­fra­structure and resources, such as da­ms or water treatment facilities, re­sult­ing in streamlined EPC processes. In ad­dition, these projects are easy to sca­le and relocate, offering flexibility, cost efficiency and adaptability to evolving energy needs or site constraints.
  • Strategic partnerships: The adoption of new strategies for strategic collaborati­ons, risk ownership and contracting, wo­rk­­­force development, and digitalisation and technology adoption has made the concept of collaboration between st­ake­holders a focal point in the field of renewable energy. By fostering greater integration between technical and engineering teams, as well as encouraging transpar­ency regarding pricing and risks, industries and developers can es­tablish stron­ger collaborations with well-established EPC companies. Such audacious goals could prompt the market to shift from conventional contracting structures, wh­e­rein both parties are motivated to work to­gether to overcome various engineering and maintenance bottlenecks wh­ile generating additional shared value.


India, which has an abundance of sunli­sght, has all the conditions favourable for the expansion of solar energy. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the Indi­an solar industry is anticipated to reach 79.07 GW by the end of 2023 and 195.11 GW in the subsequent five years, showing a compound annual growth rate of 19.8 per cent. However, in order to harness the op­portunities provided by solar energy, EPC issues must be resolved. By considering workable options such as rooftop so­lar, floating solar and strategic collaborations, it is possible to avoid issues related to engineering, land and maintenance. Implementing these solutions can resolve EPC challenges and propel India’s solar development to new heights.