RBI’s Sunflower single-axis tracker is designed and engineered to meet the project development challenges of topography and maximized PV density. The system has an articulating table design, which accommodates undulating North/South slope tolerances up +/- 10%

Talking Single-axis Tracker with Kevin Ward, RBI Solar
Talking Single-axis Tracker with Kevin Ward, RBI Solar

Kevin Ward | RBI Solar

Give us an overview on RBI Solar’s newest product the Sunflower Single Axis Tracker

RBI’s Sunflower single-axis tracker is designed and engineered to meet the project development challenges of topography and maximized PV density. The system has an articulating table design, which accommodates undulating North/South slope tolerances up +/- 10% . This feature alone can mitigate the amount of civil work that needs to be done on a site, which can have substantial savings on overall project costs for our customers. Row lengths can also be adjusted up to 120 modules. This allows the array to be designed to maximize the amount of PV that can be deployed within any given site boundaries or limitations. Rows lengths do not need to be the same and this added design adjustment ensures project integrators can get the best ROI on any development.


Why do you feel the design on a product like this will help to mitigate civil costs on a project?

One of the biggest obstacles in tracker design our customers have been faced with was topography. Most commercial trackers in the marketplace are designed to be deployed on ideal, flat terrain. Since this is hard to find, developers acquire more affordable land to grade to conditions suitable for solar systems. The Sunflower is designed to accommodate slope. By designing systems to the existing terrain, customers will not need to have extensive civil work done on sites prior to installation.


Do you have any data or studies that show this?

On a recent project we worked on with a customer, we were asked to design and price out a system against what a competitor had already proposed. The site had a lot of undulating topography, so we provided parameters for grading the site in order to accommodate our design. Our competitor provided a similar analysis to our customer to accommodate their system. In the end, the material cost for our system ended up being narrowly more costly (~$0.01/w) than our competitors. However, our customer had sought out the advice of a civil engineering firm in order to contrast the cost of civil work which would be required to install either system. The cost of civil work required to accommodate our system was over $500k less than what our competitor needed. This significant cost difference more than made up for the slightly higher materials cost of the Sunflower.


We have recently been talking to a lot of companies about ground mount solar and some of the difficulties with frost heave or extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding etc.  How have you addressed these varying conditions with your product?

Having completed over 4 GW of projects across the U.S., we have encountered varying projects from the extreme winters of the Northeast to the strong winds in Hawaii. Our teams of in-house designers and licensed engineers have seen it all. RBI takes a site-specific engineering approach on every project to engineer systems that are compliant with the governing codes of each unique site, as well as ensuring structures are designed in the most cost-effective manner. Our teams assist our customers throughout the permitting process to ensure all designs meet AHJ requirements and our staff is on standby to address any AHJ comments, which may arise, in a timely fashion.


What kind of foundation options are available on this product?

The Sunflower only uses one size foundation throughout the entire array. All posts are the same size and they will share the same embedment depth as specified by our engineers. If driven posts are not allowable due to the engineering requirements of a specific site, we can use alternate foundation methods that are commonly found in our fixed-tilt solutions such as concrete piers, ballast blocks, spread footers or pre-drill & driving posts.


Tell us what sets RBI Solar apart from others regarding communicating, training and servicing your clients and potential clients? (trainings, webinars etc.)

More than being a mounting system provider, we aim to educate our customers on best practices. We are always looking to optimize layouts from a design perspective, in order to provide the most cost-effective solution to our customers. Having the design, engineering, manufacturing and installation disciplines in-house, allows RBI to take on a single point of responsibility throughout the project process so that our customers can focus on their core competency: developing projects.


About RBI Solar Inc
RBI Solar Inc. is a market leading provider of solar mounting systems. We design, engineer, manufacture, and install solar mounting systems for commercial and utility scale projects. As a specialist in ground mount, carport, tracker, ballasted landfill and roof mount solar structures, we focus on providing best-in-class solar racking systems and project management capabilities to serve owners and integrators. Leveraging more than 85 years of experience in the commercial design-build industry, RBI Solar works with its clients to deliver the most cost-effective and efficient structures in the marketplace. Our services include complete design, signed and sealed engineering drawings for all 50 states, in-house manufacturing, nationwide installation and end-to-end technical project management support to solve the toughest challenges in the industry.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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