While both utility-scale and residential solar installations have seen a high degree of standardization in terms of everything from power contracts to installation, the commercial and industrial market has remained something of a snowflake.
Today SunPower announced progress in reducing time and cost for rooftop installations in this segment, with the results of testing of its Helix Roof ST product for the commercial rooftop market. According to the tests conducted by DNV GL, the product can be installed at a rate of 33 panels per installer hour, or roughly 2 1/2 times the maximum install speeds publicly reported by SunPowers competitors.
DNV GL conducted a Mounting System Installation Efficiency Test in December 2015 on a 21.6 kW-DC rooftop PV system, with a 3-person team of installers with no previous experience using the Helix system.
SunPower describes Helix as a fully-integrated plug-and-play solution for the commercial rooftop solar market, including PV modules, a racking solution and cable management.
The SunPower modules included feature clips so that they can be attached to mounting structures without the need for tools, and wiring features pre-assembled connectors to reduce the need for stripping and crimping wires. Due to these connectors, SunPower estimates that its Helix Roof system requires 2/3 fewer field connections than conventional rooftop systems.
SunPower is not the only company to produce a pre-assembled, modular system for the commercial & industrial market, as Solar Frontier rolled out its PowerSet PV kit during Intersolar Europe 2015.
This system is based on power blocks of 21 or 33 kW, however unlike SunPowers solution it does not include mounting structures. IHS Technology Senior PV Analyst Cormac Gilligan told pv magazine that a supplier such as SunPower would want to create an automated rooftop solution to reduce service call-outs for faulty modules due to incorrect connections.
This and other aspects of the Helix solution are explored in greater detail in an article in the February print edition of pv magazine. For this article and more in-depth coverage of the global solar industry and markets, click here to subscribe.