• POWERCHINA Hubei Electric Engineering Co., Ltd.

    Suixian & Guangshui 80MWp Ground-Based Photovoltaic Power Project of Hubei Energy Group

    Guangshui, Hubei, China

Project Summary

Bringing Solar Energy to a Hilly Area

China has been a world leader in renewable energy growth. It has an objective of generating a combined 1,200 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by 2030, and transitioning a full 80% of its energy mix to renewables by 2060. To help meet the country’s goals, POWERCHINA Hubei undertook the design and construction of an 80-megawatt ground-based solar photovoltaic power station near Guangshui in the Hubei province. The design team soon ran into several challenges when developing in the region, which is dominated by hills. They had to carefully choose a location that could accommodate 14,080 solar panels while minimizing the impact on the environment. Once the site was selected, they would then have to optimize the design of the photovoltaic array, booster station, access road, and transmission line to suit the topography of the area. Even with the demands of the project, POWERCHINA Hubei still had to carefully control costs.

Seeking Software to Handle a Complex Design

POWERCHINA Hubei determined that digital design would help them select the optimal location for the power station, then place all components around the environment. They initially selected third-party design software for the job. Within a short time, they learned that the complexities of the project overwhelmed their software. They needed to modify supports for every one of the thousands of components, including every individual solar panel for them to fit in the irregular terrain. The engineering quality of the underground cabling, from the individual panels to the booster station to the transmission line, was difficult to control because their original software could not ensure a suitable layout. To avoid falling behind the project’s strict 10-month deadline due to the software slowing the design process, the team decided that they needed to switch to a series of applications that would support their goals rather than get in their way.

Placing Components while Avoiding Shading

After a brief search, POWERCHINA Hubei determined that Bentley’s applications would allow them to fully model the fine details of the sprawling project while meeting their deadline. They began by using ProjectWise to create a connected data environment, improving collaboration. Next, they imported a reality mesh of the project environment into MicroStation and OpenBuildings, then performed a full terrain analysis to determine how to design and adjust individual components. Using the applications, the team developed specific software that could automate the placement and angle of each of the 14,080 solar panels in and around the hills to minimize shading. POWERCHINA Hubei used OpenBuildings Designer to design the booster station and OpenUtilities Substation to determine the cabling layout and design the transmission line. Lastly, they used the resulting digital twin and SYNCHRO to determine the most efficient construction schedule possible, which helped them improve construction management. 

Saving Time with Improved Construction Planning

With the help of Bentley applications, POWERCHINA Hubei optimized both the design and construction of the power station. Integrating all elements into a digital twin helped them discover how to shrink the footprint of the booster station, lower the amount of cabling needed, and reduce the length of the access road. Since the design team could automatically generate and place models for their digital twin within the Bentley iTwin platform, they saved CNY 1 million, compared to manually creating the elements. Their custom software for automating the placement and angle of solar panels kept panel shading below 2%, which maximizes daily electrical production. Working within the single digital twin allowed the team to detect and resolve clashes that would have resulted in 40 instances of rework, which saved 20 days of construction and CNY 800,000. Planning every step of the construction process with SYNCHRO clearly communicated the design intent with contractors and accelerated construction by 30 days.

Project Playbook: iTwin.js, MicroStation, OpenBuildings, OpenRoads Designer, OpenUtilities Substation, SYNCHRO 4D

Outcome/Facts
  • POWERCHINA Hubei’s custom software for automating the placement and angle of solar panels kept panel shading below 2%, which maximizes daily electrical production.
  • Working within the single digital twin allowed the team to detect and resolve clashes that would have resulted in 40 instances of rework, which saved 20 days of construction and CNY 800,000.
  • Planning every step of the construction process and using the 3D models to clearly communicate the design intent with contractors accelerated construction by 30 days.
Quote:
  • The project was an innovative application of mountainous photovoltaic projects in the new energy sector. It provided an excellent design scheme using complete solutions, and supported procurement and construction management using digital twin models, providing high-quality construction management.”

    Zhu Hanwei Secretary General of the Information Technology Working Committee, Exploration and Design Association of Hubei Province POWERCHINA Hubei Electric Engineering Co., Ltd.