Sydney-based manufacturer Canyon Solar has launched a modular solar carport solution for commercial applications that has been specifically designed for rapid installation with company director Will Beaumont claiming the time-saving translates into a significant reduction in site labor requirements and a corresponding cost saving for clients.
“We found with the second prototype that we just finished installing in the Southern Highlands that we’re cracking three times faster installation compared with an in-situ system,” he said. “If you’re deploying it three times faster than an in-situ installation, there is quite a good labor saving in there which we are passing on to the client. “The labor component is typically 40% of the turnkey costs of the system so it translates to about a 20% cost saving on labor.”
Canyon’s modular solar shade structure is built around individual pods, each measuring 7.5 m long and 2. 6m wide with two pods combined to create a single unit that covers three car park bays. The units can be deployed in series to give shelter to hundreds of vehicles, the manufacturer said.
Each individual pod houses six 660 W bifacial panels from Canadian Solar coupled with multi-string inverters from Sungrow but the structure is designed to easily incorporate components from other manufacturers. The waterproof system can be grid-connected, linked to storage and seamlessly integrates with electric vehicle charging hardware.
The pods and steel support structures are pre-assembled in the factory and delivered to the site where the pods are lifted into place atop the prefabricated columns and rafters. Final electrical connections are completed before the system is commissioned.
“Basically 80% of the work is done before arriving at the site,” Beaumont said. “All the modules on the pods are already installed, they’re wired, the waterproofing system is actually incorporated into the module mounting system so that is already done as well. “The idea is when you go to install it, all you’re doing is erecting the columns and the rafters are attached to that. You are then basically just using a forklift or a telehandler to lift the pods into place and finishing off the final connections.”
Beaumont, who established Canyon Solar after time spent with C&I solar heavyweight Solgen Energy, said the modular shade structures provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional cloth or membrane-based shade structures and rooftop solar PV installs.
“If you’re trying to sell solar just on solar, carport systems don’t make sense because there’s a lot of extra costs in terms of the foundations, the support structure, all those components,” he said. “But when you look at what a traditional shade cloth costs and what rooftop solar PV costs, which is usually AUD 1.20 ($0.82) per W, when you combine those two budgets, our solar shade structure actually costs less. “When you subtract what a normal shade structure will cost, our effective solar cost is usually between AUD 1.10 and AUD 1.20 per W. If you are already considering putting shade in the car park, solar shade is actually better than rooftop solar in many cases. And that is from a dollar-per-watt perspective.”
Canyon Solar is yet to secure its first commercial project but Beaumont said the company is in negotiations with “a number of shopping centers and universities” with the first of the installations expected to be completed before the end of the year. “I’m very optimistic that modular solar shade structures will become a big part of the future solar industry,” he said. “We’ve now hit the point where it is commercially better to install a solar shade structure than a traditional membrane-based shade cloth in most commercial carports.”
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