Nick Maynard is Sunfinity’s Vice President of Commercial Operations – and he is a man who knows solar. After all, Nick has led or been involved with 148 solar projects totaling more than 1.5 Giga Watts of power during the past decade. From carports and rooftops for the San Diego International Airport to deployable modules destined for a government scientific research center (Amundsen-Scott) at the South Pole, Nick knows that solar is a solution that can go anywhere. (Click here – www.sunfinityre.com/lbj - to see one of Nick’s latest projects for Sunfinity, 588 panels on four buildings for the North Texas headquarters of LBJ Infrastructure Group and NTE Mobility Partners.)
But Nick also knows not every solar array is designed and built the same way. While rooftop systems are the first thing most home and business owners think of, it’s also possible to construct solar arrays that are more “down to earth” (ground mounts) – and there is even the option of solar panels that move and follow the sun’s journey across the sky to optimize production (trackers).
Here, Nick provides a quick recap of different solar array options and highlights of when each system might be indicated.
|Ballasted Rooftop||Racking system and panels are placed on top of the flat home or commercial building rooftop||Highest surface ratio allows for best option for urban locations; no mechanical penetrations to the rooftop; low profile|
Production may be lower than other arrays, although still adequate for facility needs; variable site conditions (i.e., roof condition, type of roof) affects array development; requires flat surface.
For commercial applications, this option is typically the least visible
|Carport||Solar canopies installed over parking lots provide multi-use parking/weather protection (see this type of project being developed by Sunfinity and Nick for an auto dealership in McKinney, Texas - https://www.greensourcedfw.org/articles/solar-canopies-shield-cars-while-powering-mckinney-dealer)||Carports provide protection from the elements – they shield high-value inventory from hail, rain and strong sunlight and can even help reduce insurance premiums||Initial cost is higher than rooftop or ground mount (see below) due to the structural requirement to be elevated a minimum of eight feet above grade|
|Fixed Ground Mount||Racking system is driven into the ground and panels are installed at an angle to capture sunlight||Typically least expensive option because flat, undeveloped land is traditionally inexpensive for developing solar||Variable site conditions affect array (for cold climates, frost heave is an issue; on the west coast, seismic issues are at play; adjacent lots can have extremely varying conditions)|
|Fixed Ground Mount Ballast||Differs from fixed ground mount because there is no penetration into the ground||Simple, low-risk construction because there is no ground penetration (slightly more expensive for cost of concrete)||This option requires flat terrain and conductors to be run in above ground cable trays|
|Single axis tracker||Electric motors, hydraulics or air pressure in the racking allow the solar panels to move and follow the sun’s path from east to west||The system delivers greater solar power production because it maximizes the panels exposure to peak sunlight throughout the day||Higher initial costs, variable site conditions affect array, requires relatively flat terrain|
|Dual axis tracker||Electric motors, hydraulics or air pressure in the racking system allow even more movement for the panels, adjusting east to west and north to south to capture maximum irradiance||This system delivers the highest production||This is the costliest system, and there are limited manufacturers; because of declining costs and advances in single-axis trackers, deployment of this type of system is declining|
Nick notes that the solar landscape continues to change rapidly. As an example, he points to the increased affordability of single axis tracker systems. Nick commented, “Trackers are almost at cost parity with fixed ground mount systems. Combine that with new, bifacial module panels, which can deliver 20-25% greater production, and we can deliver more kWh with less space and less equipment, so the whole system is cost-efficient. This is a part of the business that will ‘pop’ in the next year or so.
“We look at every job to determine the optimal system for that location and the electrical needs, so we’re happy to talk pros and cons of each system with our customers,” Nick added. “At the end of the day, our only goal is to deliver the best solar solution possible to that customer, and their ideal solution may not be the same as yours. Together, we can get to the sweet spot.”
Nick Maynard is Vice President of Commercial Operations. He has led the design, install and commissioning of more than 1.5GWdc across almost 150 projects.
At Sunfinity, Nick manages activities ranging from engineering and procurement to contracts and construction. He has helped create and structure critical systems and processes related to constructing PV power plants including: EPC Exhibit technical language, site walk templates, commissioning standards and indicative pricing. His responsibilities include review and approval of engineering due diligence reports, verifying purchase order equipment specifications and delivery timelines, full inclusion of the technical scope of work into the EPC Contract Exhibits and budget authority from start of construction through to Commercial Operation.
Career highlights include more than eight years of engineering, construction and project management of large commercial and utility-scale photovoltaic renewable energy projects in the U.S. and its territories in the South Pacific. His role in renewable energy projects includes engineering and construction due diligence on both green field development and merger and acquisition (M&A) projects.Nick obtained a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.