Solar Power » Industry

Downstream Activities: Project Development, Distribution, Installation

Downstream activitiesDownstream activities consist of distribution (wholesale) and physical installation.


There is a large number of wholesalers, most of whom do not operate at globally. Some wholesalers have exclusive rights to distribute a specific module make in certain countries. But by and large, there are few distinguishing features.

Small Installations

Small installations for residential rooftop applications are implemented by local installers and electricians directly. Module manufacturers and distributors often maintain lists of certified installers nationawide. Tthis is a very fragemented segment of the value chain with very few companies that operate at national level, let alone globally.

Large Installations

Big projects undergo various stages of development even before construction can begin. Generally, this is a high-margin segment with some companies that are operating globally.

Downstream Activities in solar projects


Project Development

This phase consists of
  1. Assessment of the customer's needs and objectives;
  2. Identifying potential sites for a solar farm, acquiring land and securing the rights to use the site for the generation of solar electricity.
  3. Securing permits to construct, connect, integrate and operate the plant.
This is a very narrow view of Project Development. In most instances, project developers will also be involved in arranging financing as well as design and construction.


Due to high capital requirements for solar power generation, few large projects are financed by the sponsor's balance sheet. Instead, tailor-made financing is achieved through project finance.

Design & Engineering

Every site has its own specific characteristics including geographic location and solar radiation level, site topography, local regulations and requirements for grid connectivity. During the Design & Engineering phase, the optimal structure and choice of components will be determined, based on all input factors. This is largely following the sizing process described here.

Construction & Commissioning

The physical construction phase ends with the act of commissioning when the facility is handed over to the operator, which is in most instances a different organisation. To achieve this, most sponsors will ask for independent check by independent certification companies such as SGS.

Operation & Maintenance

Operation & Maintenance includes activities such as facility monitoring, cleaning solar glass, breakdown management, repair work and warranty management.


After 20 - 25 years, the system will have to be decommissioned and recycled where possible.


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