enewable energy—including biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, 
wind and solar—is big business in Italy. The country ranks among 
the world’s largest producers of electricity from solar power. The 

photovoltaic (PV) solar sector has dramatically increased over the past five 
years, due in part to state incentives. Using PV modules located on the 
ground or on building facades and roofs, energy produced by the sun can 
be transformed into electrical energy. Installed PV power in the country is 
now approaching 17 GW, with about 475,000 installations, roughly 3 times 
the number in 2010. 

In Italy, solar farms able to produce 1 MW or more of nominal power are 
considered “large.” Before installing such a PV plant, an accurate topo-
graphical survey of the ground is required in order to establish the correct 
positioning and orientation of the PV modules, as well as provide the plan-
ners with a detailed description of the terrain.

Special Challenges
In 2011, Siemens, Ltd., needed a topographical survey and stakeout of a site 
where a PV plant was to be constructed. The site extended over 180,000 m



(44 acres) and was located close to Nepi, about 50 km (30 mi) from Rome. 
There were some special requirements for this project: The survey had to 
be done simultaneously with the plant’s installation work (i.e., at the same 
time as the road network and fencing were created and where the pile 
drivers were being used). The client’s main concern was to complete the 
survey as quickly as possible without compromising precision. Giuseppe 
Greco was commissioned to conduct the survey. 

Greco, a surveyor with extensive experience, is known in Italy as an expert in 
surveying areas that are extensive and difficult to access. This is because he 
works with the help of a quad all-terrain vehicle (ATV), a Segway personal 
transporter and a personal electric robotic cart for moving his equipment. 
He is considered to be one of the few people who could execute a survey 
like that required in Nepi under the conditions stipulated by the client: as a 
one-man “team” (saving on manpower), working with speed and precision. 

The Survey
Greco immediately realized that the survey would not be easy. Apart 
from the area’s very uneven topography, he would also be dealing with 
rain, mud and poor visibility morning and evening, not to mention extreme 
temperatures capable of reaching 30°–40° C (86°–104° F) in the shade. 

For the survey, Greco chose the Trimble R8 GNSS (as the base station and 
rover) and a Trimble S6 robotic total station, both using a Trimble TSC2 




Survey on

a Quad