9. How are the results from your software powered ground-mounted solar PV design different than manual designs?
SITE IDENTIFICATION & LAYOUT
5. Is the CAD output generated by your platform to scale? Can it be used for further stages of design?
EQUIPMENT AND BALANCE OF SYSTEM
1. Can the HST platform consider various modules and inverter types and identify the most favorable combination?
4. I changed the equipment profile of an already existing equipment. However, the changes are not reflected in the project environment. Why is that the case?
1. Do you provide a log of all the design iterations your software looked at while performing an optimization?
View is a software platform for early stage solar PV design. It can provide technical and financial assessment of new and existing solar projects. As such, our users revolve around Solar Developers, EPCs, Utility companies, IPPs, Investors/ Financiers, and Solar Equipment Manufacturers.
Our software solution is hosted on secure cloud servers and relies on industry leading technologies powered by Amazon Web Services. All data is stored on the cloud under each organization’s account and not shared with other user accounts unless authorized in writing. View does not use the data for any form of marketing or other ancillary services and takes confidentiality very seriously.
View is not an energy-modeling software. View integrates various software solutions and industry data and uses its proprietary algorithms to assess the feasibility of solar projects, hence replacing most of the manual and iterative work involved in estimation, energy modeling and CAD design and financial modeling. Our algorithms integrate civil/geotechnical engineering, electrical engineering, equipment selection, and financial analysis alongside energy modeling to identify financially optimal design and equipment configurations while providing valuable outputs such as choice of equipment, detailed BOMs and automated CAD .dwg layouts. View integrates directly with NREL’s System Advisory Model (SAM) to perform its energy modeling.
Most commercial solar software solutions are focused on rooftop solar systems whereas View is focused on ground-mounted solar systems (with virtually no limitations on the system size). The layouts generated are financially optimal unlike any other layout software.
View is currently focused on ground-mount solar PV projects only. We do not support analysis for rooftop residential, rooftop commercial or carport installations. We also do not allow for the design of hybrid power plant systems though will soon include solar storage as a component of our design process. Our platform can design ground-mount solar systems from 100kW to 1,000MW+.
View integrates with NREL System Advisory Model (SAM) for all its energy modeling. SAM’s open API allows View to rapidly assess designs and their energy yields. As such, View can assess a large number of possible unique designs to identify financially optimal configurations. Upon identifying the ideal design configuration, users can then take the configuration and generate a PVSyst energy modeling report on their own or HST can provide PVSyst reports on an advisory basis through a manual process.
View is equipment, brand, and technology agnostic. As such, users can assess central alongside string inverter design configurations, fixed tilt and tracker solutions, as well as various types of solar modules from all manufacturers.
Yes. Users may model existing plants with available constraints such as land, choice of equipment, system size, etc and generate reports, cost estimates etc for their existing systems. An example of this use case would be plant acquisition scenarios.
How are the results from your software powered ground-mounted solar PV design different than manual designs?
The additional value that View’s design solution provides against manual design varies significantly based on the specific project and can result in large difference on systems not properly designed. However, the fundamental value of our platform lies in the added speed and accuracy it brings to the upfront/ feasibility work, all in a cost-efficient package.
View uses design criteria that is consistent with the industry practices. The software searches for unique design configurations and selection of equipment that given user provided costs would yield financially optimal designs. Our algorithms scan through different design configurations such as DC/AC ratio, Row Spacing, Equipment etc before generating a full preliminary design and engineering report which includes project economics of the design configuration along with financial returns, energy yields, cost estimates, etc.
Knowing that equipment and technology selection are determined and fixed at the early stage level, our software can efficiently assess different configurations to make the best decisions at the early stage.
10. What are the cost and yield benefits from using your software?
Developers/ EPCs traditionally assess an average of 3-5 “manual” designs over 2-3 weeks before determining the feasibility and economics of a solar project. With View, companies can assess up to thousands of unique designs within minutes or hours. Thus, View brings savings on man-hours spent on early-stage design while also increasing accuracy. Beyond the cost / time savings and risk mitigation, the software also leads to an NPV gain that varies based on the project.
Our software automatically generates 2-dimensional AutoCAD drawings for each final design selected alongside the detailed bill of material (cost estimate) related to the plant layout. The layout generation is fully automated and would require final manual modification to finalize. We consider the software generated layout to be approximately 90% complete.
Users can export the drawings, make manual changes and then re-upload the drawings to re-assess the results and obtain the detailed bill of materials.
HST is constantly adding additional granularity to the drawings and in the future plans to also automatically generate SLDs and wire routing diagrams within the drawings.
Yes. EPCs use View for responding to early-stage design and engineering work inquiries, bidding and proposal generation. Preconstruction and estimation teams find View a valuable resource for generating optimal layouts, detailed cost estimates and equipment selection (if applicable). In the future, View will also address later stage engineering drawings and construction packages essential for EPCs.
Yes. View design software was used to design and assess over 8 GW of projects across five continents – nearly 2GW of which is operating. Our software provides both metric and imperial system units, as well as international currecncies and is well suited for all geographies.
There are various licensing packages and offers for the software primarily determined based on a company’s project pipeline. We allow for unlimited users inside an organization and directly invoice the company using the software. We offer low-cost “per report” and “per project” pricing options.
For investors and companies looking for consulting services, View can also provide solar PV design in-house consulting services through its licensed Professional Engineers directly using the software.
Yes. View users have direct access to the team’s technical support.
View was developed by a team of solar professionals (including licensed professional engineers and solar developers) with decades of collective experience working in the solar industry. The team’s unique experience working at various solar companies and EPCs make them well suited to work alongside our in-house software engineering team to provide industry leading solar PV design software. View’s independent position ensures it provides users with objective results.
View is used for the automation of development and screening evaluations. Our clients don’t see View as replacing any other solar tools (eg Helioscope, PVsyst, etc), but as a replacement to the slow and inefficient iteration cycles between Excel, PVSyst and AutoCAD when making estimation, dev engineering and financing decisions. They use View to evaluate boundaries at the early stages, compare equipment, and look at high level BOMs and financially optimum layouts. Other use cases include quick-scan LCOE evaluations, 8760 energy revenue files and sensitivity analysis.
SITE IDENTIFICATION & LAYOUT
Yes, using the site latitude and longitude of a site when creating a new project would be the best way to identify the site location. Refer to this user manual article for instructions on defining site location using site lat, long: http://docs.hstsolar.com/docs/user-manual/create-and-edit-a-project/create-a-new-project/
SAM, which HST uses for energy simulation, uses the following convention for projects located in the southern hemisphere: The azimuth should be set to 0 (or the vicinity of depending on user preferences) to get the correct optimal tilt and energy performance. (This is mainly applicable to fixed tilt racking architecture).
View currently only supports KML /KMZ file uploads. DWG or SHP files may be exported to KML format via applications such as Civil3D and ArcGIS respectively, provided the site is properly geolocated in these applications.
Not currently. The platform is connected to ESRI’s ArcGIS database which aggregates highest resolution topo data available through U.S. and international sources worldwide (e.g. USDA, USGS, AirBus, etc).
Yes. The automatically-generated CAD file is drawn to scale in the model space. It may be used seamlessly in the further stages of design or to generate preliminary layout files.
No. Sub blocks are created and sized automatically to minimize sub-block $/W based on the following constraints:
i. DC/AC Ratio Target
ii. Row Spacing
iii. Rack Configuration (mods up x mods across)
iv. Max Inverter Fuse Size
v. Max Inputs per Inverter
vi. Max String Size
vii. Max Combiner Box Size
EQUIPMENT AND BALANCE OF SYSTEM
Yes. Under the equipment tab, the user may select up to 5 different modules and 5 different inverters and have the software identify the combination using which equipment yields the highest return. HST only selects one type of module and one type of inverter for each design and does not allow mixing and matching of different equipment.
View currently supports the selection of one rack profile per run – we do not optimize for the optimized rack.
To see side by side results for different racking profiles, we suggest cloning the project, defining the new racking, and running the projects in parallel. This will save time on obtaining and comparing results between various racking architectures.
The following component pricing is obtained automatically through an internal HST cost database that we update bi-annually:
Cable (LV and MV)
Panelboards (AC Combiner Boxes)
Switchboards (AC Recombiner Boxes)
Pre-parallel String Harnesses
Pre-parallel string in-line fuses
Every time equipment or racking profiles change, the user needs to go to the particular project, clear the old profile and reload it within the project page to reflect the changes in the equipment profile.
Yes HST is equipment and technology agnostic. To ensure thin-film modules are properly simulated, users will need to enable pre-paralleling of strings by going to Electrical tab /Advanced/Preparallel Strings and selecting “Yes” from the drop-down menu.
Yes. When a user optimizes and requests to assess a range of designs in the Design Goals tab, they can obtain a log of all the assessed unique designs when the report is generated. Click Reports and you can find the Log alongside Financial Model and other selected add-ons.
Yes. Under the Design Goals tab, simply pick LCOE as your optimization metric and place a checkmark next to all the design parameters of choice (ensure that the maximum system size is well beyond what you think can fit on the site) and the system will find the largest optimal size. If the user has particular row spacing and DC/AC ratios in mind, then simply float the AC system size and the software will determine the largest system size it could pack on the site.