One of the most expensive and labor-intensive components to a photovoltaic system solar installation is the mounting or racking system that holds the solar modules. Depending upon which system is used some mounting systems also require drilling through the roof to provide mounting system stability. A new way to rack solar modules that is quick and easy (and warrantied for 25 years) is Ecofoot 2, which the manufacturer Ecolibrium Solar says is the first modular system that combines the benefits of polymer with integrated grounding and wire management. This product utilizes the key components of the original Ecofoot-speed, low-parts count, and cost effectiveness-now with the inclusion of integrated grounding, wire management, and increased weatherability.
New, Flat Roof PV Cost Reductions Driven By Racking Innovation
Cost reduction is of utmost importance to the solar industry. As it becomes more affordable, solar energy will become more mainstream. Integrators and developers are always looking for ways to maintain margins while staying competitive. Being current with new technologies is an important part of this strategy.
While module price reductions are slowing after a 40 percent year-over-year decline in 2011 and a 76 percent overall drop since 1998, focus is turning to BOS to deliver additional cost reductions. Mounting systems have received much of this attention since racking impacts direct material and labor cost and overhead costs with respect to design, ordering, warehousing, and shipping. It’s worth noting that commercial installations are proving to be the most economical application of PV, as shown by the 127 percent growth rate in 2011. Innovation in flat roof mounting systems is a key component of cost reduction.
Several new mounting systems have been developed that utilize polymers to enable cost reductions. Polymers are also roof friendly and non-corrosive, making this material a more attractive alternative to metal on flat roofs.
One company which has benefited from polymer based racking hardware is Munro Distributing. Munro has been in business for six decades with offices across the US, including California and New Jersey. Within the last two years, Munro has been utilizing the polymer based Ecofoot, which is manufactured by Ohio by Ecolibrium Solar.
According to Glenn Maltais, VP of Renewables with Munro, Ecolibrium’s Ecofoot and Ecofoot 2 are simple and cost effective products. “Both designs incorporate key features we covet, quality materials, roof friendly design, stackable, and a strong price point. Ecolibrium’s products help distinguish our offering while providing healthy margins to our customers.”
Polymer based racking has been proven to save money on material and installation versus traditional systems. Now may be the time to consider the cost cutting advantages of polymers on flat roof projects.