Solar racking on the floor at Intersolar North America 2018

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Alion Energy‘s pitch is that they can make your single axis tracker do everything that everyone else does – but with 50% less steel – less than 30 metric tons per MW of solar power. And 50% less steel means an extra penny or three, especially considering recent tariffs in the United States against imported steel products. The hardware is ballasted (no geotec needed), can be installed by workers carrying(!) the hardware and working with simple tools. The racking also starts with a wind resistance of 105 MPH by default – with an upgrade to 130 MPH. CEO Mark Kingsley said their innovative design was “engineering therapy”. I feel better already – don’t you?

Pegasus Solar had the prettiest packaging of solar racking I’ve ever seen – it’s put in a box in the exact order than the rooftop specialist needs to take it out of the box. Flashing first and on top (left image below), and all the the goodies below. That just makes sense? Their broader solution package is nice as well – rail-less racking with with grooved grounding approved bolts in between the hardware, as well tile replacement flashing for those days that your feet just seem to break everything you step on.

Sometimes, solar panels and inverters get too much attention for their innovation – and for some good reasons, they drove the revolution. However, a bit more engineering therapy is coming your way in racking technology – Nuance Energy has figured out how to install racking with up to 3,000 pounds of uplift using no heavy hardware – just a hand held rotary hammer drill from Bosch (see image below). The basics (also seen in this video) are that you first take those rods in the third image below, insert them into the Solar Ground Anchor in the fourth image below, use the hammer to pound them in to the required depth, remove the metal rod, and then use a winch to pull it tight as the metal piece at the end of the wire goes sideways and lodges itself into the ground – with up to 3,000 pounds of uplift. No digging, no concrete, no geotec. Sounds like a plan to me.

Six foot tall ground screws – because heck yeah we want six foot ground screws from APA Solar Racking!

Array Technologies grabbed the big spots at the conference at the main entrances – and they entertained us with beautiful racking in motion. The individual trackers are connected by the bar at the bottom, meaning fewer moving motors for many moving panels.

I’ve been told that Baja Construction will give you a new Tesla Model 3 (performance edition red, please) with every carport you buy. This isn’t true at all – however – maybe pv magazine could work something out for its authors? Either way – hearing from Baja that carports could potentially get down to 55¢/W, that’s about as nice as a Model 3 with the extended battery and the big tires.

S-5! connections. I think these folks know very much so how much every single rooftop specialist loves installing on a metal seam roof, and instead of drilling a hole – they get to twist on the required hardware. One thing that surprised me are the variety of S-5! type parts, but with the variety of metal seams out there – I’m guessing need it to cover you.

Two ballasted racking products – one for the rooftops from Sollega and one from GameChange for tops of sensitive landfills where you can’t break a seal. Sollega will let you add in an attachment point – notice the rail between the two top pieces of ballast on the left image – in places where you can only add so much weight or the wind uplift is stronger. GameChange makes it so you can pour your concrete onsite right into these containers, and with the company nearing 100 landfills – they know what they’re talking about.

And really, there was so much more innovation on the floor than pv magazine had a chance to learn about. Every conversation was filled with technology and research and advancements in technique that is driving down the levelized cost of electricity – and no longer just from the sexy solar panels we saw yesterday, or the brainy inverters we’ll talk about on Monday. We’re attacking from all angles.