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Solar Power Station Risk Assessments: What You Need to Know

ABS GROUP SOLAR SERVICES

Solar Power Station Risk Assessments

The Rise of Solar Energy

Countries have set ambitious targets to convert power generation from conventional sources (coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas) to renewable sources, focusing on investments in wind and solar. As the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power generation facilities and battery energy storage systems (BESS) decreases and governments continue to promote reliance on solar and invest in research and development related to solar technologies, the demand for new facilities is forecast to increase.

U.S. Electricity SupplyFigure 1 - U.S. Electricity Supply
(Source: Environmental Protection Agency)

did you know?

The Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), as part of the SunShot Initiative, forecasts 14% of the U.S. power demand will be provided by solar energy in 2030 and 27% in 2050.

The Impact of Natural Disasters on the Solar Market

As the utility-scale solar power generation market continues to mature, the parties responsible for managing operating expenses (financiers, developers, owner and operators, insurers, etc.) are all working together to understand the impact of various natural catastrophe (NatCat) perils, including earthquakes (ground shaking and knock-on effects), hurricanes and cyclones (wind, debris and storm surge), severe thunderstorms (hail and wind), floods, wildfires and snowstorms.

Why Do You Need Solar Power Station Risk Assessments?

Insurers have signaled to asset owners and financiers that insurance may no longer be the main basis for transferring risk, and that traditional risk management, site selection and technology selection must be considered by developers, purchasers and financiers amidst increasingly severe weather patterns. Renewable energy projects, especially solar projects, are seeing steep insurance premium costs due to industry disruptions caused by extreme weather events.

Figure 2 - Location Map of Major Solar Projects (Source: Solar Energy Industries Association)

The market has been hardening since mid-2019 with premiums increasing by as much as 400% in that timeframe.

Now is the time to work with safety professionals to identify and control associated risks. The probability of damage and business interruption for owners, insurers and stakeholders due to natural hazards is imminent.

Our Unique Approach to Solar Risk Assessments 

ABS Group's Extreme Loads and Structural Risk (ELSR) division uses state-of-the-art Catastrophe Modeling Platforms to develop results rapidly while maintaining quality analysis through the support of internal databases on hazard, construction and vulnerability within the models. When combined with our 40 plus years of on-site vulnerability knowledge for extreme events, this approach provides our clients with invaluable independent expertise in the quantifying and management of natural hazards risk.

In addition to the conventional Natā€Cat modeling approach described above, portfolios can be further assessed through a detailed analysis of the individual properties, equipment, policies and procedures to develop an unbundled risk assessment tailored to the portfolio. Supplemental information such as structural assessment, flood maps and hydrology studies can be considered to adjust vulnerability curves.

The following components can be modeled individually to better understand the risk to each element:

  • Roof and Ground Mounted Solar Panels
  • Fixed and Tracking Tables
  • Electrical Substations
  • Power Conversion Systems
  • Electrical Cabling
  • Site Roads, Bridges, Fences and Buildings

Our approach goes beyond desktop study using predefined asset descriptions in the software and uses expert elicitations, on-site investigations and rigorous engineering-based methods to discretely evaluate asset-specific components as part of our typical financial loss estimate study (NLE/PML/MFL). Determination of property damage (PD), business interruption (BI) and single-site or aggregate losses are computed based on assessing vulnerabilities of designed and built systems.

Understanding the specific vulnerabilities and consequences allows us to provide unique insights into quantifying and prioritizing risks as well as identifying specific mitigation recommendations. Our team of risk consultants, licensed professionals and structural engineers are prepared to support your facility and understand your facility's risk to catastrophic perils and economically manage those risks.

Service Offerings

  • Tabletop Portfolio Screening
  • Probabilistic Loss (PL) Estimates 
  • Scenario Expected and Upper Loss Analysis (SEL and SUL)
  • Probable Maximum Loss (PML) Evaluations
  • Business Interruption Assessment
  • Mitigation Options
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