Innovative low-cost mounting system
While working at Clear Solar in 2009 I was part of an exciting initiative to develop an innovative low-cost solar panel mounting system.
At that stage, while the cost of photovoltaic panels was still very high, it was clear that the costs were rapidly reducing. A review showed us that the balance of system costs – the mounting, wiring, inverters and installation – would soon form the greatest proportion of the costs. We also found that comparable systems from overseas were expensive to purchase and install, and were often designed to European or US standards – for example including snow-loads into their design calculations.
Along with Barry Hendy, Cameron Munro and Paul Gizinski (all ex-Solar Systems engineers) we set out to design a system for lowest installed cost yet compliant with a 20 year iin-field service life. The final design comprised:
- roll-formed galvanised steel rails
- hot-dipped galvanised support columns, with an augur flange welded to the bottom to allow the support to be screwed into the ground
- galvanised connection brackets
- inverter protection canopy
- a prototype screw drive
While very large utility-scale systems were our ultimate target market, we initially focussed on the NSW rural segment at a time when there was a 60 cents/kWh feed-in tariff for systems under 10kW. We deployed several systems from Albury up to Orange.
The product was successful, but sadly financial issues with Clear Solar inhibited further development.