Rollout solar racking collects rainwater, cuts land-use requirements


From pv magazine USA

Ohio-based Roll-A-Rack announced it has developed a roll-forming solar racking system that captures rainfall on solar panels. Harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation. The product is designed for flat roofs or ground-mounted systems. 

The compact system requires only 11 inches between rows of panels, significantly cutting down the amount of space that is normally required for erosion control by planting vegetation. The company said the solution requires half the land to produce the same amount of energy as conventional racking systems.

The product is currently under development and was launched by a Small Business Innovation Grant from the US Department of Energy Solar Technologies Office. Don Scipione, the president of Roll-A-Rack, will introduce the innovation in a presentation on Aug. 24 in Columbus, Ohio.

The rain-harvesting feature of the rack is part of Roll-A-Rack’s innovative design. The design has direct implications for membrane flat roofs, which are generally unable to house solar arrays.

To avoid damaging the structural integrity of a membrane roof, the company installs a 12-inch metal channel rack that is distributed across existing roof ballast, while securing the solar panels. The rack can be as thin as 22-gauge, and roll-formed.

Roll-A-Rack said its solution reduces the racking and installation costs of traditional systems by 30%. It said the material costs are 50% less than conventional racking systems, and that installation times and labor costs are reduced by 65%. 

The company is currently taking applications for beta testers of the product, with applications ending in July. The first 100 kW of racking will be provided for free, and staff will be trained at no cost. The test site will become a case study for the company, and the facility may be used for marketing purposes.

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