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.
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.
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