Three-year commercial PV payback expected via roof mount cost reductions


From pv magazine USA

Solar Atmospheres, a California-based provider of state-of-the-art vacuum thermal processing services, now hosts among the largest commercial solar-plus-storage system in the state on its roof:  a 772kW PV solar system and a 1,561kW/3,122kWh Tesla battery storage system, installed by SunGreen Systems.

Due to the two federal tax incentives the project will receive, additional state-sponsored incentives, and the avoidance of a roof retrofit, Solar Atmospheres expects a full return on investment within 30 to 36 months.

The project uses S-5! mounting products, and S-5! used the opportunity to prepare a case study, outlining the unique challenges resented by the project and how each was overcome. First and foremost, the project footprint is located on twin 20,000+ square foot metal buildings with American Buildings Long Span III trapezoidal, exposed-fastened metal roofing. As for the site’s energy needs, the buildings feature more than 60 furnaces for vacuum heat treating and brazing services.

While 60 standard, single-sized furnaces would provide a more predictable energy load, the 60 stoves in Solar Atmospheres’ buildings range from lab-size research and development furnaces to the largest commercial vacuum furnace, which measures in at a whopping 48 feet long, with a 150,000-pound capacity. According to S-5!, the site experiences very high energy demands and energy charges, so Solar Atmospheres requested the largest solar system the building could handle.

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While SunGreen Systems worked on the PV installation, the company brought on one of its partners, Stem, to propose a combined solar and Tesla battery storage system to shave the demand and arbitrage energy.

In developing the solar system with a mind for putting panels wherever they’d fit, SunGreen Systems turned to S-5!, as the company’s products, in this case the PVKIT solar solution and RibBracket III, provided design flexibility in attachment locations. In addition, the lightweight solutions allowed Solar Atmospheres to avoid costly retrofits. The relationship between pv systems and metal roofs is one that S-5! knows well, and SunGreen Systems demonstrated to Solar Atmospheres the solution via a sample kit provided by S-5!. This presentation enabled Solar Atmospheres to find the right clamp for the project by seeing first-hand the factory-installed gaskets that would preserve the building’s integrity.

S-5! also worked with  SunGreen Systems’ installation crew to demonstrate best practices for rail-less installation, including advance module preparation while other crew members completed the electrical work.  S-5!’s PVKIT mounting utilizes clamps designed to grab and attach onto metal roofs, both at the edge and across the surface. The kit’s pre-assembled components enable installers to attach PV modules to the metal roof’s structural seams or ribs vs. a traditional rail mounting system.

In total, the installation exists over a 52,500-square-foot project footprint, made up of the two rooftops and a carport. Of the installation’s 772 kW of capacity,  570 kW are contained on the two roofs. The installation is made up of 1,494 United Renewable Energy 380 W panels and 14 Tesla Powerpacks.

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