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Solar Construction Monitoring with Zeitview

Solar energy development is booming all over the world, and the United States is no exception. On the heels of the renewable energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the United States has seen well over $100 billion in private sector investment, with 51 new solar factories announced or expanded. By 2033, the U.S. is expected to have installed 669 GW of total solar capacity — more than four times the amount installed in 2023.

This is all great news for the future of clean energy. It also means that we’re seeing an unprecedented amount of solar plant construction, which will only continue to increase over time. Here at Zeitview, we have been providing construction monitoring services to our solar energy customers for several years. We conduct aerial scans of the entire area of a solar plant for comprehensive progress insight. Zeitview has a fleet of crewed aircraft and drone providers globally that can quickly scan solar projects at scale. This includes the Gemini site in Nevada, the largest solar site in the U.S., owned by Primergy Solar. For the Gemini site, we scanned weekly for more than a year.

Large solar energy plants require construction monitoring solutions for several reasons:

  1. Size and Complexity: Constructing a new solar energy plant usually involves several phases in locations that may be miles apart from each other. Construction monitoring solutions ensure that project managers and owners can keep an eye on everything that’s happening without having to be onsite, driving from one area to another.  
  2. Quality Assurance: Construction monitoring helps ensure that the project aligns with design specifications and industry standards. Rework and delays are expensive, so it’s important to identify problems as soon as possible. 
  3. Safety and Compliance: Solar plants involve vast amounts of electricity, which poses an inherent safety risk to workers on the ground. Construction monitoring solutions aid in compliance by providing visibility into construction progress and adherence to safety protocols.
  4. Cost Control: Construction monitoring tools optimize resource allocation, labor productivity, and scheduling. 
  5. Remote Management: Large solar plants are often built in remote and rural areas. Monitoring solutions enable centralized management and remote oversight, reducing truck rolls and enhancing operational control.

These benefits underscore why new large-scale solar projects benefit from integrated construction monitoring solutions to optimize performance, quality, and efficiency throughout the project lifecycle.

In order to help Primergy and customers like them maintain even better oversight of their projects, we are releasing the Zeitview Construction Monitoring app to complement our longstanding construction monitoring services. This is an area we understand well: As the largest solar aerial inspection provider, Zeitview has scanned over 300 GWs of solar energy. 

We set out to solve three construction-monitoring challenges identified by our largest solar energy customers: lack of real-time progress tracking; difficulty with stakeholder collaboration; and the need for a system of record.

It was also important to us to support comprehensive coverage from pre-construction through operations and maintenance to end-of-life. As a company, Zeitview is committed to providing solutions across the entire lifecycle of the solar, wind, and property projects we support. These include high resolution topographic services that improved design, grading and budgeting of solar projects, weekly monitoring of construction of solar projects that mitigate delays and identify risks and issues on site, and aerial inspection services that help identify warrantable claims and issues critical to the health of solar projects. 

Challenge #1: Real-time Solar Project Progress Tracking

The absence of an independent platform for accessing and comparing EPC progress, coupled with limited visibility into construction, leads to delays in issue identification and deviation from schedules. Extensive site areas make regular oversight impractical for Project Managers, resulting in a lack of understanding of installation quality and ongoing work.

Our solution: Periodic aerial assessments replace physical visits. We can compare installed components with planned component counts across the entire site. 360-degree images provide immersive insights that can be shared with stakeholders. Uploaded site layouts reveal deviations, enabling timely interventions for accurate as-builts.

Challenge #2: Stakeholder Collaboration 

We found that some of our customers relied on a third-party app for on-site progress reporting. The problem was that, without delivery confirmation, invoices were being sent without proof of actual installation. Also, some companies told us they were having trouble adjusting workforce size based on project progress and milestone schedules. Widely, we've heard that companies need a way to bridge the gap between the office and on-site teams, enhance communication and streamline issue identification and resolution.

Our solution: We created an annotation tool within the Zeitview Construction Monitoring app for pinpointing issues and communicating with the on-site team. Measurement tools assess work quality with direct tagging for issue resolution. Email notifications inform users about issues, providing direct access to problem areas on the map. Trailer offloading monitoring ensures accurate component deliveries for payment release.

Primergy sites leveraged Zeitview's platform to pinpoint issues and relay them to the on-site team for resolution. This led to the development of enhanced features for issue identification and resolution, incorporating annotations and notifications. By introducing an offline mobile app we are expecting an even smoother process. The Thermography O&M mobile app proved to be a valuable tool for resolving PV module anomalies on site.

Challenge #3: Project Documentation

The absence of a system for preserving detailed historical records poses challenges for warranty claims, insurance, and dispute resolution. Additionally, we heard that the lack of internal reporting was preventing effective communication and information sharing within and outside the team.

Our solution: Periodic aerial progress assessments provide comprehensive historical records. PDF reports detailing on-site progress facilitate internal communication. Additionally, the capability to generate block-level reports caters to logistics specific to each block.

Zeitview’s Construction Monitoring solution also provides:

Secure share of 360 panoramas:

  • Ability to share 360 panorama with external sharing link.
  • Allows external stakeholders to view progress of the construction without the need to have access to the Zeitview platform. 

Email notifications:

  • Email notifications to users on tagged observations
  • Facilitates team communication and notification of identified inspection issues. Assigning tasks brings in ownership to resolve these identified issues.

Topographic services: 

  • Drone-based LiDAR and high-resolution photogrammetric survey of solar projects prior, during and after construction.
  • During the planning phase of construction, conducting a topographical survey of the site and studying hydrology is essential. 
  • Zeitview's full lifecycle offerings provides an additional advantage of using the same ground control points and base layers from pre-construction to construction phases, which reduces costs and streamlines the transition between these stages. This enables seamless correlation of data across phases.

Serial ID collection:

  • Collect serial IDs of the entire site using an offline mobile app. Scanning through phone camera or bluetooth enabled hardware barcode scanners. 
  • Handover to O&M: Provide comprehensive documentation that includes serial numbers facilitates seamless transition and enables the O&M team to take over responsibilities with clarity regarding the installed assets.
  • Warranty and Maintenance: Serial IDs are necessary for warranty claims and planned maintenance activities

Interested in learning more about Zeitview's Construction Monitoring for Solar Development? Request a demo and pricing here.

Tags: Construction Product announcement construction monitoring
Jamie Kennedy
Jamie Kennedy

Jamie Kennedy has worked in aerial inspections and construction monitoring since 2017, first in operations and now overseeing Zeitiview's AEC and EPC construction monitoring practice as an account executive.


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