New challenges for logistics and storage in renewable energy projects

New challenges for logistics and storage in renewable energy projects

The spreading of renewable energies is advancing unstoppably worldwide. Its implementation sets new records and gains global consensus towards achieving the European Union’s climate neutrality goals for 2050, reducing energy dependence, and decarbonizing the economy.

The European Union is getting closer to meeting its 45 percent goal for 2030, and Spain continues to hold its renewable leadership in Europe. Spain ranks second, behind Germany, in installed renewable power, and is also among the top 10 of most attractive countries for investment in renewable energy.

Renewable energies are a priority, and as different countries move forward to meet decarbonization objectives, clean energy will continue to gain ground. In fact, the main voices in the industry are already warning that their growth is occurring at a faster pace than expected. So much so that, by 2023, Red Eléctrica de España (REE) expects up to 50 percent of the energy produced in Spain to come from renewable sources. Specifically, it is expected that wind and solar energy will already account for 42 percent of the total.

Logistics, a critical factor for renewable projects

Logistics plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of any renewable project. This sector is complex and has unique operational challenges. These include storing a growing volume of large-scale materials, coping with product scarcity and stock shortages, and facing difficulties in transporting equipment, which can lead to project delays or complete suspension. In this sense, agile and flexible logistics are essential to avoid potential disruptions in the supply chain, reduce risks and costs and ensure a high level of service quality, according to the Guide to Warehousing Logistics for Renewable Energy Projects developed by Rhenus Warehousing Solutions. The document analyses the critical role of logistics, particularly warehousing, in ensuring the success and viability of this type of project.

According to Julio Sáez, Business Development Director at Rhenus Warehousing Solutions Spain:

“Planning is key to ensuring the availability and safety of goods that require special handling and avoiding any errors that may interrupt the construction or commissioning of the project. Therefore, at the beginning of any collaboration, it is advisable to study the specific needs of each installation in order to design a turnkey strategy adapted to the specific complexities it presents”.



Two different supply chains: commodity and self-consumption

Renewable energy generation can be classified into two main categories: commodity and self-consumption. Each presents different particularities and needs from a logistics point of view, so it is advisable to recognize them to guarantee efficient operation:

  • Commodity renewable energy generation involves the production of renewable energy in a plant or installation that is connected to the electrical grid and sells the energy produced in the electricity market. These are large-scale projects, such as wind or solar parks, in which a large number of bulky components and equipment are installed. In this case, planning is key to ensuring that the equipment is carefully stored and delivered efficiently and on time.
  • Self-consumption renewable energy generation, on the other hand, refers to the production of renewable energy for the internal consumption of a company or organization. The components or materials that are managed are usually smaller and lighter, which facilitates their logistics management.

Logistical challenges in each phase of the renewable project

Renewable energy project logistics also face several challenges depending on the development phase in which they are:

  • In the EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) phase, the supply chain must ensure the availability of components and materials in the assembly field (wind turbines, solar panels, support structures, cables, etc.) for the construction and installation of the renewable project.
  • In the exploitation phase, it is essential to maintain the generation of renewable energy uninterrupted throughout the year. This involves ensuring the availability of the spare parts and materials necessary to guarantee the proper repair, and timely maintenance of the generation equipment.

Other critical factors to guarantee high availability and reliability of the renewable energy project throughout its lifespan are: properly distributing the produced energy, adjusting costs to reduce the private customers’ payback time, and improving the distributor's competitiveness and proper spare parts management. This implies having an adequate inventory of spare parts and maintenance equipment, as well as establishing preventive maintenance plans to minimize downtime and maximize energy generation.


Specialists in storage for the renewable industry

Aware of the opportunities and growth in this sector, the Warehousing Solutions division of Rhenus Group has specialized in designing high-value, customized warehouse solutions for the renewable sector. In addition to a wide range of storage logistics solutions, it also provides other added-value services such as kitting, handling, and copacking.

“It is essential to ensure that the storage space is sufficient and adequate, to carry out efficient and accurate inventory control, and to guarantee the protection of materials of different sizes and values, such as solar panels, which can be sensitive to environmental conditions such as humidity or exposure to direct sunlight,” says Julio Sáez. The expert also emphasizes the importance of “performing adequate material maintenance and ensuring its security to prevent theft or damage.”