Ground Mounted Solar Energy Systems: An Overview

by Solar Selections on October 11, 2011

We may not be as fortunate as other countries when it comes to spare land here in the UK, but that does not mean we can’t make the most of what we have. Indeed, it is the effective use of our grounds that can be the telling difference between an economy that prospers and one that languishes. Solar Energy systems can be installed in a variety of methods and still provide attractive returns on investment. Ground Mounted systems, as this article explains, are a viable option for many prospective customers in the right conditions.

Whilst typically installed out of site and mind on the roofs of our properties, solar energy panels can be placed on ground mounted frames and achieve equal or better results. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to this method, and the project’s organisers should consider these factors before making a decision.

Ground Mounted Photovoltaic Systems

Staying Grounded: The Positives

  1. First of all, the ground mounted option is there for when adequate roofing is not ideal for a solar installation. This could mean the pitch, size or orientation of the roof space are not feasible, that there are shading issues or an extensive run of cabling to the meter box to deal with. A ground mounted system can always be installed to suit these conditions perfectly, so yield increases compared with roof mounted systems are achieved. A ground mounted system in other words is more efficient, as it can be aligned perfectly to catch the sun as it moves through the sky.
  2. Solar Farming as it has become known is a quickly growing venture whereby farm and land owners turn an idle field into a source of energy and earnings year round. This is effective for large systems that would not be possible on roof areas as they can be installed over vacant land. This prospect even allows small scale grazing to continue uninhibited underneath, adding another advantage to this approach.
  3. Thirdly ground mounting is not as cost-prohibitive as it would be to erect a new structure purely for the purposes of installing solar panels. The cost of ground mounting has come down considerably over the last few years as the engineering experience with such projects has increased. These days a ground mounted system can utilise pole-driven or concrete-based steel framing that is quick to install and able to withstand wind and load characteristics that are required.
  4. They provide easier access to the panels and inverter should any issues arise regarding performance. Maintenance, although a very small factor in any solar energy system, can be carried out very easily with a ground mounted system.
  5. Finally they can be safe, with fencing provided by your installer as standard to ensure wildlife and curious neighbours are kept at distance.

Staying Grounded: The Drawbacks

  1. Larger agricultural fields such as those that cater for cattle or goats are not suitable. The animals are too large and can damage the system or themselves with their weight and movements.
  2.  The systems need to be installed on relatively flat surfaces, clear of course of any obstructions and shading. The ground must also be suitable for the excavating/pole-driving of the framing by being clear of large rocks or debris.
  3. They are more expensive than a simple roof mounted system, with additional costs going into the engineering and commissioning of the framing and fencing. Bear in mind that with more complicated roof installations that require complex scaffolding or access, these costs can become quite similar.
  4. It’s especially important to keep the panels free of debris and obstructions, increasing maintenance needs. Cleaning the panels will be required more often as well to ensure a steady output curve.

For more information, contact Solar Selections Commercial today and we’ll help you understand the feasibility of a ground mounted system on your property.

Written by Jarrah Harburn

jarrah@solarselections.co.uk

T: 020 7205 2267

© 2011 Solar Selections Pty Ltd

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