There are lots of creative people in the renewable energy business. That’s one thing I like about emerging markets. Creativity abounds. Some ideas are a bit crazy, but others represent the beginning of tomorrow’s major players.
Given the infrastructure and behavioral challenges that the net-zero movement faces, I’m always looking for products and approaches that don’t face major barriers and can more readily gain market acceptance. The Solvari SR solar panel is one such idea.
It’s not a game-changer, and it won’t directly move the carbon-emission meter. However, if successful, it will significantly increase the productivity – and potentially – profitability for rooftop solar installers.
They describe their solar panel as “pre-engineered.” That’s because it has integrated a microinverter, cabling, wire management and connectors, roof mounts, fasteners, screws, and even flashing tape.
Sounds a bit crazy?
I thought so at first. In the early days of the PC industry, we toyed with integrating multiple functions on a single product but quickly discovered that doing so came with unintended consequences. The showstopper: when one component fails, you can lose all the functions.
That was my first concern with the Solavri panel. What happens if the inverter fails or needs to be replaced?
The company had the answer. First, although the company has patented the all-in-one panel, and there are some proprietary components to facilitate the integration, all the primary components (i.e. solar panel, power electronics, etc.) are industry standard. Second, the panel is designed to easily remove and replace the inverter – the most likely component to fail.
The total assembly comes in at 50 lbs. making it a bit heavier than a typical solar panel. But remember, that includes all the other components. And the panel is only designed for asphalt roofs, so it isn’t an all-encompassing solution.
Net net, it’s a clever idea that does have the potential to allow solar installers to install many more systems with fewer people. And maybe someday, if the company’s vision comes to fruition, it might even spur a bit of a DIY market.