Hardware Brief: Solar+storage+indoor farming, space robots, battery packs at $135/kWh, more!

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Sunmodo makes racking, and now they’ve joined Sunnova’s approved product lineup. I’m pointing out Sunmodo’s rooftop product – EZ Pitched Roof System – since Sunnova is a residential rooftop company. “SunModo’s Helio rails are especially designed for strength and versatility. With two convenient 1/4” slot and a 3/8” slot versions available, the Helio rails can handle a variety of components such as mounts, rail splices, microinverters, clamps, and a variety of wire and grounding products. The product includes built-in grounding pins in easy-to-use components for any panel and rail configuration.  No need to order, stock, and transport grounding clips and grounding straps to the rooftop.” Source: Sunmodo

“Fifth Season’s microgrid combines distributed energy resources, including a rooftop solar array, a battery energy storage system, a natural gas generator equipped with advanced emissions control technologies, and Fifth Season’s precision agriculture platform to help the company reach its goal of efficiently producing 500,000 pounds of local produce during the new facility’s first year of full operation. Schneider Electric’s cloud-based, demand-side energy management software platform, will be integrated to optimize the system’s performance.” Source: Scale Microgrid Solutions

Groundwork rents the machines you need to build projects. I’m focusing on their solar module clean robot, and very specifically this part of it: “The Voyager I travels on two support rails, which can be installed at the top and bottom ends of your PV panels, to ensure smooth travel and stability. The Cleaner automatically glides along these rails as it simultaneously cleans the surface of your PV panels.” Anyone have insight on the costs to add these rails to an install? Do they need be added at time of install? Source: Groundwork

And just because one cool, weird, thing should be in every hardware brief —  NASA is working on robots to assemble structures in space, with a solar farm being used as an example. “The prototype will be a modular autonomous manipulation system that uses platforms that stack up to any size to allow multiple configurations to assemble components in space. It will use task management software to allow robots of various configurations and capabilities to work together. There’s also an error detection and configuration component that could be used during and after a build to identify and address any issues.” It applies here because of course they use solar as an example, but also because I can imagine some of these NASA engineers making a ground mount racking installation robot for earth. Source – NASA

And since there’s no module pricing update from PV Infolink (Happy New Year!) this week, let’s talk energy storage. Bloomberg New Energy Finance released their projected 2020 lithium-ion battery pack costs, and the research house sees packs getting close to $135/kWh. These are more than battery cells, but not deployed systems – just the packs that container a certain numbers of cell and the pack’s electronics. But just like solar modules going down in price and increasing efficiency driving broader system decreases, the same will (has been) happen with battery cells and packs.