Industry News

Driving solar project delivery

Late last year, the Australian Energy Market Operators (AEMO) releases of the Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). The ISP has highlighted the need for over 30GW of new utility-scale renewable generation to replace coal-fired generation by 2040. With a highly diverse future energy system on the horizon, and solar playing a big role in this, more pressure is on solar contractors to maximise efficiency and minimise downtime.

The Draft ISP outlines a profound transition to a National Electricity Market (NEM) of diverse renewable, gas-powered and distributed generation, supported by energy storage and network solutions.

As the solar industry looks set to continue its steady growth, one key way to ensure the efficiency of a project is by considering the equipment used and how it will impact construction. Vermeer offers solar industry pioneers the high-quality, productive equipment solution this rapidly expanding market demands.

High-quality pile driving equipment will not only install piles quickly and accurately, but will also reduce damage to the top of the pile, reducing the need for rework and ensuring quick project turnaround.

Equipment considerations

According to General Manager of Sales at Vermeer, Jeff Lawson, solar sites require high levels of accuracy to enable panel motors to be mounted correctly, making precise equipment a non-negotiable on site.

Another problem faced by solar installers is that pile driving machines are notorious for damaging the top of the pile.

Common types of damage caused by these machines include mushrooming the top of the pile and stripping it of its coating, which can lead to corrosion issues down the track.

“Every small mistake made by inferior equipment will lead to increased expenses and decreased efficiency. While organisations may save money in the short term, doing a job effectively once is more cost and time efficient than having to go back and re-work minor issues,” Mr Lawson said.

Proven success and support

Mr Lawson said that one of the sector’s most well-proven pieces of equipment is Vermeer’s PD10 Solar Pile Driver.

“Vermeer’s PD10 Solar Pile Driver has the ability to reliably perform with speed and precision. It has exceptional accuracy with an optional laser receiver integrated into the control system and a GPS-enabled design to improve productivity,” Mr Lawson said.

“The PD10 has been designed specifically to meet the unique needs of large-scale solar installation, offering significantly longer service intervals than those of competing brands — meaning less downtime and reduced maintenance costs.”

With contractors facing a solar boom, completing projects on time is crucial.

“The PD10 features a hammer that has 80 per cent more impact energy than our original pile driver, which is important to reducing cycle times and getting the job done,” Mr Lawson said.

According to Mr Lawson, the PD10 also offers productivity-enhancing features such as efficient ground drive, a conveniently placed dual joystick, a wide trackpad to minimise jobsite disturbances, a bash plate designed to reduce damage to piles and an integrated control system, offering the operator critical information on pile angle and height accuracy.

The PD10 has already been used successfully on projects throughout phase 1 and 2 of the renewable energy zone development as per the ISP, including at the Darling Downs Solar Farm in QLD.

More than just a machine

While the features and benefits of any piece of equipment are important, Mr Lawson also said that the value of quality equipment is significantly increased when great sales and after-sales support is offered.

“Vermeer equipment is backed by the support network of an unmatched dealer network. Being part of the RDO Australia Group, with over 500 employees and 18 dealership locations, means that we can offer Australia wide servicing and parts are available across the country as well,” Mr Lawson said.

“Choosing the right piece of equipment with the right support will not only make organisations more efficient, but also more productive and more profitable.”