Solar Mounting Structures
The solar mounting structures are the metallic structures on which the solar panels and solar arrays are mounted, be they on rooftops or on large farms.
What is the cost of these solar mounting structures?
The cost of the mounting depends on the following:
- Where the mounting structure is used
- What metal the mounting structures are made of
- Type of mounting structure
Where the Mounting Structure is Used
A solar power plant that is implemented as a large solar farm needs a different type of mounting structure than a rooftop solar power plant.
Solar mounting structures used in solar farms may need to be designed for harsher environments and more protection against elements.
Solar mounting structures on rooftops typically are less exposed to harsh environments and elements.
The above reasoning does not automatically mean that solar mounting structures for rooftops cost less than those for farms, because of the type of mounting structure and the type of mounting done
Type of Mounting Structure
Depending on the type of roof (flat roof, sloping roof…) and depending on the type of roof material (metal roof, shingles, asphalt…), the design of mounting structure will vary.
In addition, the way the mounting structure is fixed to the roof also contributes to differential costs. Some might require non-penetrating mounting structures, while others might be OK with mounting structures that are fixed to the roofs through penetrations done in the roof.
In addition, dealing with older roofs might require additional reinforcements to a mounting structure, increasing its cost.
Materials Used in Mounting Structure
While stainless steel is one of the most commonly used metals for making mounting structures, metals such as Aluminium and even plastic have been used as well in select cases. Choice of metal has a bearing in ultimately determining mounting structure costs.
Efforts to Decrease the Cost of Mounting Structures
- Rail-less approaches, which remove long spans of aluminium from the installation process, are popping up in the sloped roof market.
- On flat roofs, integrated approaches–mounting companies partnering with inverter companies, for example–are aiming to reduce costs.
- As for ground mounts, the name of the game is installation simplicity. Labour is a significant cost, and large ground mount projects can rack up the hours.
Summary and Conclusion
Owing to the above factors, the exact cost of mounting structure could vary significantly from one power plant installation to the other, even for those that are located in the same region.
Broadly however, one can say that mounting structures constitute 7-15% of the total capital cost of a solar power plant.