Part 1 of a 2-part series
When Rob Turner joined TerraSmart’s new civil construction division, TerraCivil, he knew he was in for an exciting venture. After more than a decade in utility PV operations, Turner was the perfect fit to grow the new division and TerraSmart’s west coast utility expansion. What he couldn’t foresee was the company’s merger into a larger, integrated entity — Gibraltar Renewable Energy Group.
Now EPCs and developers who partner with TerraCivil can wrap their project in a holistic experience that combines TerraSmart’s robust portfolio with an integrated group of companies that provide the utility solar space an unprecedented suite of advantages — and increased returns.
TerraCivil marks first step in integrated solar journey
Created to reduce the time, risks, and complexity of managing multiple vendors, TerraCivil was added to TerraSmart’s turnkey business model to streamline overall project execution for utility-scale solar. This approach helps EPCs get started off right. TerraCivil’s complete land construction scope includes fencing, building access roads, clearing, grading, earthwork, asphalt paving, storm drainage, trenching, site fencing and repairs, stormwater pollution prevention planning, and more.
Early in the project development cycle, EPCs and developers rely on TerraSmart’s civil experts to walk sites and get a feel for what it’s going to take to build there — long before the racking structure is identified. With 35 years of civil work experience, TerraCivil’s expert estimators can “walk on a project and know exactly what we are getting into,” says Turner, who is expanding his team rapidly.
TerraCivil provides site-specific preparation for a project that lays a critical foundation for subsequent construction phases; the increased scope of work allows TerraSmart to better manage and expedite project schedules. This is key to EPCs who need to simplify construction and ease site mobility.
Turnkey approach ensures cost and schedule advantages
“Traditionally, civil has been an unknown, so getting a better sense of it from the start gives developers and EPCs deeper insight up front to manage risks and ensure minimal impact on contingencies,” Turner says. EPCs are often exposed to unknown risks, including market volatility in steel prices, unforeseen subterranean conditions, or unexpected earthwork costs if unsuitable racking structures are deployed.
Through combining civil expertise with tough ground screw foundations and flexible racking systems, TerraSmart offers a full-scope approach. Engineered to penetrate rocky and hilly terrains, TerraSmart’s iconic ground screw reduces the need for grading and other civil costs, accelerating construction timelines and eliminating subsurface risks. The benefits compound with uber-adaptable fixed racks and single-axis trackers that provide industry-leading slope tolerances for quick and efficient installations — up to 30 percent for fixed and 20 percent for trackers. This lowers costs, helps to meet project deadlines, and ensures on-time delivery so that EPCs can bank on reliable execution despite unreliable conditions.
Complete turnkey installation by a 260-member crew using dedicated equipment to self-perform all mechanical aspects of the project provides an unbeatable outcome from a cost, schedule, and risk management perspective.
This is particularly true on tougher sites where, according to Turner, “initial assumptions become invalid and projects need different foundations and racks to handle previously unknown conditions.” TerraSmart is the only racking partner that can assume 100 percent of terrain refusal risk. Adapted ground-screw foundations civil-engineered and designed for slopes and rocks more than offset the cost required for earthwork.
“With TerraSmart, there is no contingency going into the project because we already know we can get it done,” Turner says. “We are not going to come back and say ‘these slopes are too much’ or ‘there is too much rock.’ This means there are no change orders for schedule slippage or rock or weather. Once EPCs are in contract with TerraSmart, there is no more risk.”
Want to learn more on how TerraCivil’s extension into the Gibraltar Renewable Energy family amplifies returns and slashes risks? Stay tuned for part 2 releasing next week…