Many of the most forward-thinking state-based solar incentives provide huge financial enticements for distributed generation development. In many jurisdictions, utilities support these incentives because they are a cost-effective way to defer much-needed electrical infrastructure upgrades to prevent rolling blackouts, brownouts or cascading shutdowns of the grid. For solar project investors, the high rates that the utilities pay for this power makes the projects appealing.
Conventional thinking says the most cost-effective solution for distributed generation is rooftop solar, but what do you do if you can’t produce as much power as you would like on the rooftop of a building? In the past, folks settled for a smaller system because solar carports were too complicated and expensive. This antiquated way of thinking is why carports aren’t a bigger part of the solar mix, even in the face of favorable incentives that support their development.
The challenge with solar carport projects is lack of optimization. Manufacturers of each link in the value chain seek to minimize their cost as a component of the system. Module manufacturers work to lower cost-per watt of their modules; inverter manufacturers do the same, and racking companies work with their supply chain to lower the cost of their raw materials. Nobody is looking at the entire solar installation process in an integrated way, until now.
At Quest Renewables, we use high-fidelity process analysis originating from our award-winning Department of Energy research grant to optimize the total installation process, and therefore total cost, of solar carport projects. Here are two of the many examples of how this thinking benefits everyone involved in a solar project:
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