"The life of a solar project after the dust has settled" Part 1: Dealing with the Dropbox document jungle

The dust has settled. After a crazy whirlwind of activities, all project documentation has been signed just minutes before midnight. The solar project has been built despite all the roadblocks along the way. It is now operational and connected to the grid, just before any imposed deadlines. The press release has been issued. The sun is shining and PV plant is producing as planned and everything is fine. Time to relax and collect the cash flows for the next 20 or 25 years?

No time to relax for the developers, lawyers, investment officers, tax advisors and investment bankers. They have long moved on to the next shiny project and are out of the picture.

New teams have taken over. They have been given access to a document jungle in a Dropbox file and to a dozen of PV monitoring platforms. They are starting to receive emails and calls from a myriad of solar service partners and PPA off-takers.  And stakeholders start screaming that they want all sorts of reports. Time to relax?

This is part 1 in a series called “The life of a solar project after the dust has settled”.  Let’s get started dealing with the Dropbox document jungle.

We always like to ask solar investors and solar asset managers what tool they use to manage their project documentation. We receive answers all along the spectrum from physical document files, storage in a file folder architecture, storage on a local network, to cloud based storage in Dropbox, Sharepoint or storage on an online due diligence platform. Or a combination of some of the above. About 70% of the time Dropbox is included in the tools mentioned.  And respondents start to giggle because they believe this is not professional.

But it is not Dropbox as a document storage tool that makes an organisation professional or not. The real questions you need to ask are very often perceived as difficult ones. We have listed the 10 questions we believe a professional solar owner/operator should ask itself:

  1. Are you sure you have ALL important project documentation?
  2. Are the contracts fully executed by all contract parties?
  3. Are you able to find important contracts within seconds?
  4. Did somebody in the team read these contracts?
  5. Has the person who read the contracts really understood everything (“lawyerese” can sometimes be hard to understand)
  6. Has the person identified inconsistencies between documents, or things that just do not make sense and need to be amended?
  7. Has the most important information in the contract been extracted?
  8. Does this information live in somebody’s head or is it accessible to team members?
  9. Is the extracted pricing/cost information consistent with the financial models?
  10. Did anybody else in the team audit the extracted information?

Did you not get further than question 1? It is frightening for the solar industry, but you are actually in good company. About 80% of our respondents are not even sure they have everything they need.  As the industry matures, this will undoubtedly need to change quickly.  No time to relax, time to get started…..

Continue reading Part 2

 

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