Metal roofs are one of the most popular materials used for residential roofing, in part because of their protective properties. In fact, a metal roof can withstand winds up to 140 MPH. It’s no wonder they’re so popular. Not only are they a great residential option, they’re also an excellent choice for commercial spaces. And now, metal roofing is being used as a base for a new tool that is both economical and environmentally-friendly, specifically for commercial buildings.
According to Green Tech Media, a start-up company is now starting to put solar trackers on top of industrial rooftops in California. The company, Edisun Microgrids, has taken the title of “world’s largest rooftop solar tracker installation” for installing about 3,000 of the trackers on top of a single building.
Edisun Microgrids created the dual-axis trackers specifically for commercial and industrial use. The rooftop trackers are used to increase the energy output of a solar project by 30%. This is in comparison to fixed-tilt trackers. The rooftop trackers also increase the energy output by 40% in comparison to solar panels without trackers.
The trackers are said to increase a solar project budget by 10% and can help to improve the economics of a solar installation by 20%. This project specifically targets hospitals, retail centers, colleges, and warehouses.
Trackers aren’t commonly used on the tops of roofs. Bill Gross, founder and CEO of Edisun Microgrids, commented on that fact.
“We’re hoping to show tracking is just as valuable on the roof compared to the ground,” Gross said. “We hope this will be a big sea change and make a big impact.”
As Edisun Microgrids comes up with this new form of electricity production, they’re entering an industry that is known for being hard for solar hardware startups to get into. Scott Moskowitz, a solar analyst at GTM Research, says that adding a tracker to each solar unit adds cost, equipment, and complexity.
“Proving that their technology adds enough value (via increased performance) and reliability will be an extremely difficult thing to do,” said Moskowitz.
However, Moskowitz says that the commercial sector is more than willing to invest in anything that the tracking gear would require.
Edisun Microgrids has already grown in size but is looking for funding to help them continue to bring more people onto the team.