The construction industry plays an important role in the global economy and shows no signs of slowing down. Growth in gross construction output alone is projected to average 3.6% per year through 2030, higher than in the manufacturing or service sectors.1 This fact, combined with predictions that renewable energy investment will peak over the next decade, presents a welcome but challenging opportunity for new construction projects in many key markets.2
While this growth in renewables is bringing positive changes to our industry and transmission networks, these types of projects are also incredibly capital intensive. Whether it’s onshore or offshore wind, solar, biomass, renewable diesel or hydrogen, all capital projects must be managed at the highest possible rate of efficiency throughout their life cycles if we are to succeed in this transition.
To meet this new demand for maximum project accuracy, renewable energy project owners need technology, esp advanced project control systemscan support the energy sustainability efforts of owners and their partners without negatively impacting project timelines and budgets.
The Changing Demands of Renewable Energy Construction
With so much data generated throughout the construction project value chain, the current focus is on aggregating this data into a single platform to derive actionable insights. In a recent survey of organizations involved in capital projects, nearly 71% of respondents acknowledged that digital transformation is the biggest driver of growth in the coming years. Additionally, 96% of organizations admitted they could do more with the data they hold.3
The combined impact of major external and internal trends transforming the construction industry is resulting in a long-awaited paradigm shift to results-driven processes. It affects every phase of a project (from the conception or pre-planning stage, to design and construction, commissioning and operations) and is changing the definitions of success that will be used in the development industry.
As financiers of renewable projects, project owners or their representatives are increasingly involved in all life cycle stages, especially in critical renewable projects. Entrepreneurs can take a long-term, supervisory role or be closely involved in design and construction as active collaborators, depending on the project’s delivery model. Regardless of the approach, owners’ growing need for greater visibility and control requires more comprehensive and connected digital solutions. These enable collaboration and flexible decision-making and help manage and reduce project risk.
With his arrival improved data capture tools and with digital project control, owners can now anticipate problems before they occur. In addition, they can make more realistic plans, accurately calculate and mitigate risks, which creates greater confidence in project outcomes.
Project control systems at all stages of the project
Project control systems, simply known as project controls, streamline workflows by integrating all necessary project controls and management processes into a single platform. They help owners gain insight into project milestones and facilitate better monitoring and execution.
Advance planning. Project control liaises between disciplines and integrates calendar/bid/tender data simultaneously drawing insights from past performance for risk analysis. They also help improve engineering management so owners can see design changes in real time and understand their impact on project schedule and cost so they can decide whether to keep the design or seek alternatives.
Design and construction. The cost of key renewable building materials has increased dramatically between 2019 and 2020. This highlights the critical nature of close monitoring and management of cost and schedule during the design and construction phase. Project controls provide the right execution tools that collect project progress from the field to generate performance reporting for owner input.
Commencement and Operations. Project control can integrate all documents, checks and models. This will ensure that the owners have a well-documented and complete historical record of the potential project visualized through a digital twin. A digital twin provides the owner with valuable insights that can be used throughout the life of the asset. All renewable construction project and commissioning information is available to the operations team.
A project control system can also help solve the problem with disconnected point solutions. While point solutions can be highly effective in niche functions, routine deployment of new point solutions can result in a mix of technologies and information silos from different vendors, which can result in compatibility and integration issues. In addition, projects may face challenges in data sharing due to lack of data standardization and lack of a consistent framework.
In this regard, adopting an integrated platform, As a project control system, it can make relevant information available in real-time to owners to understand past context and current conditions and make more accurate predictions. Having these fully enriched, time-sensitive perspectives enables more effective decision-making that can significantly reduce risk and improve outcomes.
Looking to the future
The need for visibility and collaboration among key stakeholders to increase certainty that capital projects are completed on schedule is clearer than ever. Renewable project developers and asset owners with the highest stakes are increasingly seeking to adopt methods and solutions that will allow them to independently monitor and evaluate project progress without relying on other stakeholders. Moving forward, owners will look to use tools such as project control systems to perform critical tasks such as risk assessment and associated contingency plan development with minimal support from contractors.
With the trend towards larger and more complex renewable energy capital and infrastructure projects, owners have a very low risk tolerance as expectations from various stakeholders such as investors, communities and end users remain high. This makes it imperative that owners have the best possible visibility into cost and schedule, proactive risk management, and real-time decision-making throughout the project lifecycle.
Solutions such as project control systems, when considered as an integrated platform, help owners and contractors achieve their strategic goals and effectively manage risk. The power of this connected data, delivered through platforms that connect various project workflows and processes, enables owners to gain superior visibility throughout the lifecycle of their assets, ensuring more successful project outcomes now and in the future.
This article is sponsored by InEight.
1 The Future of ConstructionOxford Economics, September 2021.
2 Supercharging Net Zero, the race towards a faster, fairer energy transitionArkadis, 2022.
3 Global Capital Projects Outlook, 2021: Optimism and DigitalizationInEight, 2021.
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