The cost of installing photovoltaic systems on buildings stems from three main components: the photovoltaic panels, the racking system that holds the panels, and the labor to affix the panels and racking system to the building or structure.
The way the panels are attached to structures is called the “balance of system” for the solar panel. Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture have been working together to help address balance of system costs, making solar energy a more cost-effective option.
“Photovoltaic cells are going to be mainstream,” said Francisco Valdes, a GTRI research engineer. “They will be part of the building. We started with 140 concepts and narrowed it down to five products, two of which are now in production.”
The Georgia Tech team developed two solutions for attaching the panels — Quad Pod and Anaconda. The Quad Pod is a canopy solution, while Anaconda is a method of attaching the panels to a flat roof. Both systems have been installed in the Atlanta area, and design improvements are underway as the projects transition into the hands of private companies.
— Lance Wallace