Various studies and research has proven that there is approximately 30 billion square feet of roof space on commercial buildings available for use. This space is ideal and has the potential to be outfitted with photovoltaic technology. In the United States alone relating studies showed that average distribution warehouses consist of over 300,000 square feet of roof real estate. This is enough to hold an entire megawatt solar power system.
For good reason many major companies choose the roof top levels as the prime real estate for PV technology. Roof top structures are usually reinforced with sturdy concrete that is built perfectly to hold a solar power system. The system can be established with little to no risk at all in terms of losing the panels or the effect that the PV technology can have on the rest of the building’s structure.
In terms of the process that FirstNRG undergoes when evaluating potential locations for roof top solar-panel systems, there are a number of variables considered. These include wind uplift and the ability to secure the structure, roof loading, combustibility, drainage and the risk for natural hazards. A number of questions need to be answered in the evaluation process including;
-How will the solar panel system affect the combustibility of the structure of the roof?
-What are the maximum wind levels that will affect the technology?
-How much weight can the roof hold and contain safely?
-What effect will the accumulation of snow, ice and rain have on the solar-panel system, and how will this change the loading process?
There are five potential risks that FirstNRG considers when evaluating a potential rooftop solar-panel system. These are as follows;
1. Roof Loading. How much potential weight can the roof reasonably hold? How will natural weather factors affect the loading process and what effect will the accumulation of weather variables have on the structure?
2. Combustibility. Will the solar-panel system affect or change the combustibility of the roof system on the whole? This must be considered as a number of early solar systems contained a backing made of polystyrene plastic, which is known to be extremely combustible.
3. Wind uplift and its effect on the secure structure. An evaluation team must take into account the maximum potential of wind in the area and how it will affect the structure. Depending upon the expected force of the winds, the solar-panel system may need to be connected directly to the roof structure. If there is less potential for strong wind then a simple ballast installation may be more than enough to hold the system in place.
4. Drainage. How will the installation of a solar-panel system affect the pre-existing drainage system on the roof? If there is an issue of ponding on the structure the loading process can be drastically affected.
5. Resistance to various natural hazards. It is of utmost importance to test all solar panels in all conditions to ensure they can resist the effects of ice, snow, hail and wind debris. The FirstNRG evaluation process considers what testing has been done on the panels and whether or not more needs to be administered in order to ensure safety.
FirstNRG is a leading innovator in most matters of renewable energy. We provide risk management support to all companies, businesses and organizations no matter their size or relating sector. Even in instances when our staff cannot supply direct answers or solutions, we can steer you in the right direction of the appropriate resources that you need.