Quality Assurance for Renewable Energy Projects

Utility Practice & Experience

Environmental awareness, ambitious renewable energy policies and reduction in capital costs of renewable energy sources have prompted exponential growth of these sources globally. For example, almost 29% of global electricity demand in 2020 was met by RES, where hydropower contributed the highest portion (i.e. 17%). Moreover, rapid R&D as well as the falling cost of technologies utilized for wind and PV systems has led to a significant increment in these power projects.

It is forecast that global onshore and offshore wind power will increase more than threefold (to 1787 GW) and tenfold (to 228 GW) respectively by 2030, compared to installed capacity in 2018. A similar trend has been found for solar PV, where installations could grow almost six-fold over the next 10 years, reaching a cumulative global capacity of 2840 GW by 2030. China is leading by having the largest installed capacity of wind generation and PV market. In addition, projects in Asia for converting electrical energy from waste will drive growth of bioenergy, thanks to incentives. Demand for biofuels is set to increase 28% by 2026, with Asia accounting for almost 30% of new production.

In order to effectively reduce climate change and keep volatile energy markets under control, global investment in RE will need to triple by 2030. Along with accurate investment decisions, comprehensive planning, analysis, construction, and monitoring will all need to be properly executed to ensure quality requirements of such projects are achieved. That means a quality assurance process must be deployed throughout the development phases of RE projects. Quality assurance is a systematic approach through detailed measurement, inspection and control to produce a quality products, services and processes under given requirements and standards. Quality assurance is part of quality management that focuses on providing confidence that quality requirements are being satisfied.

Malaysia, for example, has moved progressively towards achieving a Renewable Energy target of 40% share in the total installed capacity mix by 2035. As a result, approximately 9546 MW of reliable RE projects will have to be commissioned during the next 15 years. To ensure quality and efficient execution of such RE projects while complying with all standards and regulations, a systematic quality assurance process is needed throughout their development phases. QA for RE project is different from conventional power plants or civil projects due mainly to uncertainties related to their intermittent nature and available resources, government policies that include regulation and interconnection standards and advanced technologies that will require new skills, consultation and analysis.

Attend the 2022 INMR WORLD CONGRESS where Ir. Ts. Dr. Wan Syakirah Wan Abdullah, Head of Business Assessment and Engineering at TNB Renewables in Malaysia, will review guidelines for stakeholders in assuring the quality of RE projects. She will also recommend the proper QA process for RE project development based on reliable published papers, technical reports and her own experience with large scale solar projects in Malaysia. Moreover, a general framework of QA for all stages of an RE project will be proposed that considers related uncertainties and challenges.