Low-cost pole and wire photovoltaic racking

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Although solar photovoltaic (PV) module costs have been declining aggressively there has been only modest capital cost improvements for the balance of systems (BoS) in general, and for racking in particular. For small-scale PV systems racking can make up the majority of the capital expenditures. To overcome this challenge, in this study a novel parametric mobile low-cost open source racking system is designed using open source software and validated with numerical modeling. The system is designed to use readily accessible vertically-mounted conduit and steel cables and be built with common hand tools so that it is easily replicable in remote areas and the developing world. It can be assembled and deployed in half an hour and easily dissembled and flat-packed for transport. The system can be fabricated for less than commercial racks and is completely customizable in terms of tilt angle and size. The racking system is designed to resist light to moderate wind loads consistent with everyday breezes rather than those commonly used for structural design which are based on extreme events; as it is assumed the racking system will be disassembled and stowed prior to an extreme wind event.

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Energy for Sustainable Development