Wil Sillen's post

Wil Sillen

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A weak roof and solar panels? This Delft (Netherlands) start-up has the solution
By: Kaz Schonebeek
More than half of the large company roofs cannot bear the weight of solar panels. The Delft start-up Rable has developed a self-supporting system that allows even weaker flat roofs to be fitted with solar panels.
Weak roof constructions mean that all kinds of large, flat roofs - for example on distribution centers and industrial buildings - are unsuitable for solar panels. Research by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) shows that constructive restrictions are the most important reason for companies to refrain from installing solar panels.

A shame, thought the engineers at Rable. They therefore developed a system based on a truss construction - in other words, a frame of metal triangles on which solar panels rest. A steel cable and rails run between the triangles, which are attached to the roof at the ends. This construction is so strong that no extra ballast is needed to keep the panels in place. And that is the crux of the story: because no extra weight needs to be added, relatively weak roofs can also be fitted with solar panels.

Reinforcing roofs
“For roofs with structural limitations, it is often difficult to complete the business case for solar panels,” explains Nikki Hoexum, commercial manager at Rable. “It costs 15 to 75 euros per square meter to renovate a weak roof for the installation of solar panels. These investment costs often prevent projects from getting off the ground. At company locations, production sometimes has to be stopped to reinforce the roof, which is bad for the business case of the solar panels.”

Sacrificing land for solar panels
Large solar parks are now often placed on the ground. Think of the large solar fields that pop up everywhere along highways, on farm fields and even floating in lakes. Not everyone is happy with this: solar parks compete with other land uses such as agriculture or nature. If more roofs are filled with solar panels, less scarce land will have to be sacrificed for solar parks.
No ballast and few anchor points
Rable's system is about 15 percent more expensive than a typical mounting system. But Hoexum believes that the system at the bottom of the line is not inferior in price to traditional PV mounting systems, because no ballast and few anchor points are required on the roof.

Do it yourself
An additional advantage is that the installation is very fast: the solar panels can be rolled out in a row over the rails. “It is easy for installers to place the entire system on the roof,” says Hoexum. “We are also developing a version for homes and garage boxes. A do-it-yourself concept that makes it easy for anyone to install solar panels on their roof.”

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  • bonke reinhard

    1 w

    Good move 👍

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