Subtract one pound of steel per foot length from every pile used to support a solar photovoltaic panel, and you may save millions of pounds — and a lot of money.
(OMAHA, Nebraska - May 25, 2018) -- Subtract one pound of steel per foot length from every pile used to support a solar photovoltaic panel, and you may save millions of pounds — and a lot of money. The idea, which involves changing the way photovoltaic ground mount piles are designed, came from a partnership between HDR structural engineer Steve Gartner and PACO Steel, and has earned recognition in the American Society for Civil Engineering Innovation Contest, taking home the Feasibility Award in the Innovative Business Model category.
The process has been proven effective on multiple pilot projects and studies. Steel weight savings on the projects ranged from 10 to 25 percent compared to the weight of standard hot-rolled steel pile sections. Photovoltaic facilities average 500 steel piles per megawatt, and projects with more than 100,000 steel piles are not uncommon. On the five pilot projects, steel tonnage was cut by from more than 200,000 to more than a million pounds.
Working together, the HDR and PACO Steel team pioneered the innovative process, which will allow solar farm owners to reinvest their cost savings into additional photovoltaic panels or other areas of the facility. The process may also make it possible for additional solar projects to move forward because budgetary concerns related to material costs are lessened.
For more than a century, HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what's possible. Our expertise spans nearly 10,000 employees, in more than 200 locations around the world—and counting. Our engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services bring an impressive breadth of knowledge to every project. Our optimistic approach to finding innovative solutions defined our past and drives our future.