What does the future hold for PV module mounting?
The solar industry is progressing rapidly, and PV module mounting is no exception. Solar mounting is moving away from conventional solutions to make way for newer, more innovative systems.
While roof mounting is still the most popular option, SegenSolar and Renusol explore some of the less conventional systems and how unusual mounting methods affect efficiency and output.
Keeping the solar industry afloat
For residential and small-scale PV systems, space for the solar equipment is not generally an issue. Rooftops normally fit enough panels to power an individual site, such as a house. However, problems arise when looking to build a more substantial solar installation as there are few available sites large enough to fit hundreds of panels and their storage systems.
Land space on Earth is becoming increasingly limited. Yet, the world needs solar, and solar projects need to be on land. Or do they?
While free ground space is diminishing, Earth is over 70% water. This is where floating solar farms come into play. Generally installed on human-made reservoirs and dams, these are known as ‘floatovoltaics’. Floating solar projects can generate vast amounts of electricity without taking up valuable land space that could be used for real estate or farming.
The cost of installing a floating PV system is far less than a land-based system, yet it will generate up to 22% more power thanks to the cooling effect of the water below. What’s more, floating solar panels can help to prevent toxic algae blooms, which often cause sickness in animals and humans that drink the water from the reservoirs.
Floatovoltaics are a great way to assist with water supply management. As the panels cover the surface of the water, less water (if any) can evaporate, thereby saving valuable freshwater. This innovation maintains a viable water supply and in turn, creates clean energy. Somewhat ahead of the game, South Africa has already taken the initiative for floating solar farms — the first project was installed in Western Cape in 2019.
While floating solar systems offer an array of benefits, it is worth noting this technology is flawed. Installing large numbers of modules on a body of water is likely to disrupt ecosystems and reduces the available area for human recreation. Furthermore, the reliability and lifetime of such installations is being questioned. The mechanical stress on the floating structure and modules combined with high corrosion exposure as well as high costs have to be considered. As such, this technology is still in development and, hopefully, will move towards something less invasive.
PV panelling on noise barriers
Solar is being incorporated more extensively into public infrastructure to promote a greener way of living and to meet national environmental standards.
In urban areas, highway noise poses a severe environmental problem for the local community. The solution has been to install noise barriers which have helped to control noise levels as well as improve air quality. The otherwise unused space on the walls is ideal for solar installations. In response, new mounting systems have been developed to accommodate solar panels on the barriers.
In 2018, a highway in the Netherlands was lined with noise-absorbing, energy-generating barriers. The upper part of the five-metre walls comprises double-sided solar cells — a unique and innovative application. The installation powers between 40 to 60 homes sustainably with clean energy.
Back to basics with Renusol
The variety of solar mounting solutions available can feel overwhelming for homeowners, business owners or PV installers. SegenSolar and Renusol understand it can be a challenge to choose the best mounting system for optimising panel performance.
Fortunately, Renusol’s mounting solutions are simple, solid and straightforward. The manufacturer offers a range of options, with systems suited to every standard rooftop or ground-mounted application. Learn more about the MetaSole+ range for corrugated metal roofs or the ConSole+ range for efficient ground mounting.