Innovative PV install tech can reduce costs up to 25%



In accordance with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s NY-SUN initiatives that are expanding New York’s clean energy industry and the US Department Of Energy’s (DOE) Sunshot Initiative to reduce solar energy installation costs to 6 cents per kWh by 2020, the US Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) has successfully developed and demonstrated two novel, low-cost PV installation hardware processes for rigid and flexible thin-film PV modules for commercial and industrial rooftop applications.


“We are thrilled that the PVMC continues to empower its member companies and stakeholders through access to state-of-the-art facilities and know-how, which provide unmatched resources for PV research, development, and deployment and support the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, in addition to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy blueprint,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, Chief Operating and Technology Officer of PVMC. “As we look to further expand the PVMC’s infrastructure to provide ever greater opportunities to advance PV technologies, PVMC is also pioneering more affordable solar power by tackling installation costs—a two-pronged approach that will serve to make solar power even more accessible for a fast-growing, worldwide customer base.”


To achieve a lower installation cost for rigid and flexible thin film PV modules, novel PV-integrative mounting hardware is used to eliminate racking and ballasting components of a traditional rooftop PV system. The hardware essentially consists of lightweight components such as support molds, adhesives, and secondary membrane layers, among other items, that enable rapid installation with minimal assembly. A 25% reduction in Balance-Of-Systems cost was demonstrated via decreasing racking hardware and installation labor costs.


PVMC’s Prototype Demonstration Facility (PDF) is at the heart of this achievement. PVMC has created a one of a kind facility, located at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s Solar Energy Development Center (CNSE SEDC) in Halfmoon, New York, that provides a platform for upstream and downstream PV industry to demonstrate the latest trends in PV installation technologies. The PDF has been significant in bringing together diverse stakeholders within the consortium, consisting of multi-national corporations that contribute toward technology advancement in a collaborative fashion. In particular, PV manufacturers, roofing material providers, wire management providers, PV installers, and end users have collaborated to develop this new approach to lower the cost of installed PV systems.


“Instead of pulling hundreds of wires through various types of conduit, we will now be able to just drop the wires in and then snap the conduit watertight. No longer will each solar installation look like an electrical science project,” said Sal Anselmo, New York Manufacturing (NYM) Owner. NYM is a metal extrusion company based in Rochester, NY, that utilized the PDF to launch a wire management product for the PV installation industry. Like Mr. Anselmo, there are countless other small business owners in the region who can also gain access to commercial PV installations to test new products and leverage the PDF, which has generated significant industry impact in its first year of existence.


At the PDF, the PVMC can utilize time and motion installation studies to determine technology impact on hardware and electrical labor, in addition to enabling electrical performance validation of PV technologies. With plans to expand the Prototype Demonstration Facility infrastructure in 2015 to accommodate new participants and diverse installation technologies, the facility continues to promote standardization of installation practices and nationwide adoption of technologies through installer training.


PVMC, headquartered at SUNY Poly CNSE’s $20 billion NanoTech Complex in Albany, is an industry-led consortium for cooperative R&D among industry, university, and government partners to accelerate development, commercialization, manufacturing, field-testing, and deployment of next-generation solar PV and building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems.