SolarMount' provides integrated solution for 85-kilowatt 'Solar Wall' in Wales

At peak hours, the Solar Wall generates 85 kilowatts of electricity from 2,400 Shell Solar CIS thin film modules.

A Welsh technology center completed in January integrates UniRac's SolarMount' Mounting System into an 11,000-square-foot "Solar Wall," the largest installation of its kind in Europe. It is the latest example of large-scale PV building integration using products designed and manufactured by UniRac, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

At peak hours, the Solar Wall generates 85 kilowatts of electricity from 2,400 Shell Solar CIS thin film modules. The array curves from the roofline to the ground, forming the southern faade of the building. It also channels rainwater into an ornamental pool, for use by the center's building and grounds.

SolarMount solved two problems faced by the Solar Wall's designers, according to Bruce Cross, managing director of the Energy Equipment Testing Service (EETS), which engineered the Solar Wall. It allowed clear ventilation behind the panels, minimizing operating temperatures and thus maximizing output. SolarMount's bottom mounting clips also mounted PV modules from behind, giving the array a smooth external finish.

SolarMount extruded aluminum rails (U.S. and other patents pending) needed to be curved to meet the unique design requirement. Following consultation with UniRac, EETS designed an even bend into the rails.

"The process of cold rolling involved passing sections through a set of rollers to give an even radius, within 3 millimeters on a 3 meter radius," explained Cross. The process was successful, resulting in no distortion of the mounting slots or rail sections.

The technology center is located in St. Asaph, North Wales, one of several "Techniums" created by the Welsh Development Agency to promote innovative technologies through university-business cooperation.

UniRac devotes its entire business to the manufacture of PV module racks for every type of array and all makes and models of modules. Custom-designed building-integrated PV mounting solutions are a significant part of its business. Another example is the Solare, a Manhattan residential high-rise dedicated by New York Gov. George Pataki in September 2003. The 27-story building, located in Battery Park, was the first to earn the state's green building tax credit.

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