Abridge Your Clean Energy Gap with Ground-Mount Solar in India
A ground mounted solar PV system can generate more electricity than a solar rooftop system even when both get equal amounts of sunlight.
Ground conditions determine the type of solar PV system structure you must opt for.
You can configure a ground mounted solar PV system into a solar carport.
If positioning freedom is your priority, then ground-mount solar solutions are ideal for your business. Align the solar PV system to get maximum exposure to sunlight. Get a high energy output within your limited real estate and say bye to your skyrocketing utility bills, energy blackouts during peak hours and dependence on the grid.
Businesses-be it a start-up, mid-level, or an MNC- energy requirements continue to be high and dynamic. In particular, start-up or mid-level ventures need access to an energy source that generates energy at a low cost and on demand. Conventional energy sources are not feasible because of their scarcity and peak demand. In addition, traditional energy expenses are always on an all-time rise, which consumes a significant chunk of a company’s profit prospects. In such situations, ground-mount solar solutions are your best bet. Use the land adjoining your business facility to generate clean energy, to reduce energy expenses and energy dependence in the long run.
Give your brand image a big boost by pledging your commitment to India’s INDC’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions(INDCs) objective to gain about 40% cumulative power generation is done from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources and curtail emission level to 33-35% by 2030.
What is a Ground-Mounted Solar PV System?
A ground-mounted solar PV system is a type of solar power structure that can be installed in an open area without any obstructions. It is a centralized energy generation source connected to the grid. The grid-connected ground-mounted photovoltaic power system is an electricity-generating solar PV plant connected to the utility grid.
Five commonly known ground-mount solar solutions are:
Helical anchors are cylindrical-shaped posts with a helix. The helix has two or more inches of width. A guiding hole is first drilled on the ground, following which the entire structure is attached to the ground with the help of a skid steer. After the installation, the anchor resists itself from being uprooted by creating a cone in the soil above it. The design of helical anchors makes them suitable for clay and sandy soils along with grounds with high water tables.
I-Beams are mounted on the ground by a piledriver that pushes the structure directly into the ground. After the form is drilled to the bottom, racking is added to the beams. These beams are ideal for sandy, black and rock-free soils. This ground mount solar solution is perfect for a large-scale solar PV installation as this solution can bear heavy loads and demand lesser penetrations per rack.
This is a non-penetration solar solution. Racking is attached directly to this structure’s block, footing and concrete. This concrete is either precast or cured on site.
Much similar to helical anchors, it resists being pulled out of the ground by creating a cone of soil above it. It has a coil-like pattern that stretches till the end. This kind of ground-mounted solar solution works well on rocky terrain. The chiselled end of a ground screw displaces smaller rocks to dig a bigger hole into the ground and push it further into the ledge.
This ground mounting solution requires a significant degree of excavation compared to narrow and pile-driven foundations. Concrete piers are attached in holes, typically with a diameter of 12 to 18 in and a 6-8 ft width. Post attaching, wet concrete is poured around to solidify the base.
Types of Ground Mount Solar Panel Ground Mounting Systems
Typically, there are two types of solar panel ground mounting systems:
Standard solar panel ground mounting system
For this system, a metal framework atop the ground holds all the solar panels upward at a certain angle. You can manually adjust some of the standard ground mount solar PV systems as per the shifting angles of the sun to let your solar PV system get the best exposure to the sun throughout the year.
Pole-mounted solar PV system
This system is built to support multiple solar PV panels on a single pole. As opposed to the standard solar panel ground mounting system, the pole is erected higher above the ground. A pole-mounted solar PV system can also be integrated with trackers. These trackers are programmed to tilt the panels as per the shifting angles of the sun to get maximum exposure. Trackers can be installed either on a single or a dual-axis system. The single-axis tracker moves solar PV systems throughout the day to follow the sun. The dual-axis trackers adjust the PV systems as per the sun’s positions through the seasons.
Pros and Cons of Standard and Pole-Mounted Solar Panels in a Field
Pros and Cons of Standard Ground Mount Solar Solutions
- It is a less expensive alternative to pole-mounted solar PV systems
- This system is easy to install and maintain
- Standard ground mount solar solutions can be used as an alternative to pole mounting if the ground is too hard to drill.
- The fixed angle limits the capacity of this solar PV system for maximum exposure to sunlight.
- It is not a feasible option for places that experience frequent snowfall.
- The accessibility of this solar PV system makes it vulnerable to vandalism by humans or animals.
Pros and Cons of Pole-Mounted Solar PV Systems
- Trackers integrated with the poles rotate the PV system allowing maximum exposure to sunlight.
- The trackers tilt the solar PV panels as per the time of the day and seasonal variations of the sun’s positions.
- It consumes less space.
- The pole-mounted solar PV systems are costlier and more complex to install than the standard alternative.
- This solar PV system requires frequent rounds of maintenance.
- The tracking system consumes a lot of electricity which ultimately depreciates the value-for-money proposition of this solar PV system.
Types of Solar Panels Used for Ground-Mount Solar Solutions
There are mainly two types of solar panels used for ground-mount solar in India.
Monocrystalline solar panel
This panel is composed of pure silicon crystal. It allows the panel to have a uniform shape and texture. The monocrystalline solar panel has about 20% energy efficiency and high durability.
Bifacial solar panel
As the name indicates, this solar panel can absorb sunlight from both sides. One side is a silicon layer that absorbs direct sunlight. The other side absorbs the sunlight reflected from a pale-coloured or white TPO roof. Such a structure improves the power generation capacity of this solar panel with a 22% energy efficiency.
Typical Components of a Ground-Mounted Solar PV System
A typical ground-mount solar structure consists of the following components:
The installation of ground-mounted solar PV systems typically includes installing panels that are connected inside the array. The panels can be attached directly to the roof or mounted on frame components that hold them at an angle towards the sun and allow for easy maintenance access. Panels are typically made with crystalline silicon or thin-film technology.
The inverter converts direct current (DC) from the batteries into alternating current (AC) for use by your factory infrastructure. This is an essential component for any system that will be used for more than just charging batteries for backup power. Inverters convert DC power into AC power to be used in your factory production circuits without harming your electronics, appliances or lighting fixtures.
You can use it as an optional component to your ground mount solar PV structure. The battery bank stores energy when there is enough sunlight available and then releases it when clouds obscure the sun, and there is no other source of electricity to draw from. The amount of storage capacity required depends on how much energy you need.
Racking comprises metal racks that hold and support the solar panels to ensure they are secure and properly aligned. They also provide a place for wiring to connect the panels in series or parallel.
A solar tracker is a device that automatically adjusts the position of a panel throughout the day so that it always faces the sun. This maximizes the amount of light each panel receives, allowing you to produce more electricity than with fixed panels. It also makes it easier to maintain your system because you don’t have to adjust your panels manually regularly. However, it is an optional component that you can avoid if the tilt of the solar PV structure is apt.
Top Things to Consider Before Ground-Mounted Solar PV Systems Installation
A ground-mounted Solar PV system is not A DIY project. Considering installing a ground-mounted solar system, you should know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line. Here are some things to consider before you install a ground-mount solar in India:
An ideal angle tilt is the key determinant of the sun exposure your ground-mounted solar PV systems may receive throughout the year. Ideally, if you are placed north of the Equator, your solar PV system should be facing true south with an angle tilt of 30-45 degrees. However, there is no ideal angle at which you can fix your solar PV system. Hence, the best thing to do is to calculate the perfect angle based on your location. There are two ways of doing it:
- Deduct 15 degrees from your latitude during summer and add 15 degrees to your latitude during winter.
- Multiply your latitude by 0.9 and then add 29. This is considered an improvement on the calculation method stated above.
Ground-mounted systems require more maintenance and monitoring than rooftop systems. If they discover something amiss, they may ask you to fix it or take down the whole system until they can make repairs themselves. If your system fails, your utility provider may decide it's not worth repairing and pull it out completely (unless you have an agreement with them).
The wiring that connects the solar panels and sends power back to your business facility is called an interconnecting cable. This cable may need to be buried underground, so it doesn't interfere with animals or people walking by it. If this is the case, you may need an electrician or someone specializing in underground wiring to help you properly and safely bury this cable.
It is an essential factor to key in before installing a ground-mount solar in India. The soil condition will determine the type of your solar project's ground foundation. It would help if you got experts to conduct a geotechnical assessment of your soil. Such reviews include in-situ field testing, test borings and test pit excavations. Load testing is another type of assessment where a test pole is drilled into the ground. Post the drilling, experts evaluate the impact of the drilled pole on the soil structure over 3 to 30 days.
You must rely on a team of expert ground-mount solar solutions designers to provide the detailed design and strength report that will create the foundation of your solar project structure. They conduct wind stream forecasting to design a form that can endure wind speeds as high as 160 KMPH. Structural stability is critical to ensure that the solar project foundation is durable and can withstand several natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, extreme rainfall, etc.
Benefits of a Ground-Mount Solar PV system
Ground mount solar solutions offer many benefits to businesses. They are generally cheap to install and maintain and only take up a little space on your property. This makes them ideal for larger properties that need extra power or those who want to get started with renewable energy but need more space for a rooftop system.
Efficient Energy Source
You can choose the best place to install the ground-mounted solar structure- an area that does not have any obstructions in the form of trees, chimneys, or adjoining buildings, among others. It improves energy production throughout the year. Ground-mounted solar solutions can be oriented as per the seasonal changes of the sun’s positions by installing trackers to get maximum exposure to sunlight. This makes this energy source extremely efficient.
During installation, you have the liberty to adjust the position of your ground-mounted solar PV system structure to maximize its exposure to the sun throughout the year. You can calculate the ideal angle of your solar PV system and proceed with the installation accordingly. Or you can also opt for trackers to optimize the angle of your ground-mount solar PV system based on the positions of the sun throughout the year to ensure maximum energy throughput.
Lesser Electrical Hazards
A high voltage on your rooftop can cause an electric fire. It happens when your solar rooftop is hit by lightning or a power surge on your rooftop. Such risks associated with a ground-mounted solar PV system are minimal. This simplifies grounding, thereby reducing the chances of being struck by lightning. However, it is always advisable to get your system regularly checked by a solar PV system professional.
Easy to Maintain
A solar ground-mounting structure is easy to access. This makes it easy to repair and maintain the solar PV system or the inverter based on needs. The system must undergo periodic checking to ensure its seamless functionality and keep sudden repair requirements and costs at bay.
Why Choose Enerparc for Ground-Mount Solar Installation?
Enerparc Energy is a leading renewable energy firm headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, with its Indian subsidiary in Bangalore. This firm provides sustainable and turnkey solutions for commercial and industrial customers to help them reduce their utility bills and carbon footprint. Enerparc Energy has provided solar ground-mounting solutions that are customized to an industry’s unique and dynamic needs, which enabled their customers to reduce their dependence on the National Grid for power to a significant extent.
The efficient design of the structure is one of the key drivers of energy, and cost-efficient ground-mounted solar structures installed at an optimized project cost. This is why Enerparc Energy sources the screws, piles and ballast foundations strictly based on the ground conditions of their clients. It installs structures that are optimized for the meteorological conditions of the land where the client’s business facility is located. Enerparc Energy conducts shadow analysis to ensure unobstructed sunlight on the ground before installation.
On-site Solutions by Enerparc Energy
The on-site solutions provided by Enerparc Energy help your business to be self-sufficient in energy production, save on rising utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
As per the CAPEX model, Enerparc is responsible for procuring and installing all the components of a ground-mounted solar PV system at the client’s business location. The client will pay the installation charge upfront. Post-installation, not only does the client get to use the generated power but also export the unused power to the grid based on the local policies.
After a payback period of 3-5 years, the client is entitled to receive free green power over 25 years. This payback period depends on the location of the client’s business, electricity charges from the grid and subsidies.
The “zero export” project is another version of this CAPEX model. As per this version, the client can use the entire power generated within its location without exporting it to the grid.
OPEX Or BOOT Model
Under the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model, Enerparc is responsible for financing, assembling, operating and maintaining the ground-mount solar structure at the client’s business facility. Enerparc Energy can export the energy generated by solar installation at competitive rates through a power purchase agreement (PPA). After the PPA term ends, Enerparc transfers the ownership of the ground-mounted solar PV system to the client at a nominal charge. The client can also repurchase the solar power structure at any time during the PPA term for a pre-fixed rate.
Lease Rental Model
Under the lease rental model, Enerparc Energy will design, procure installation components and assemble them at the client’s business location. The client will have to make a monthly payment of a pre-fixed payment to the NBFC for five years. During this period, the client can also avail of the depreciation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) benefits as per the current laws.
Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
This system stores the power generated by the solar structure in batteries for future usage. The BESS system can be integrated with ground-mount solar solutions to keep the generated power. The stored energy can be used when the demand peaks or during prolonged hours of power blackouts.
Installing ground-mount solar PV systems is an intelligent option for making solar energy part of the Indian energy infrastructure. Putting up such PV systems merely requires an investment in the land; the large area available with the ground ensures that a sufficient number of PV modules can be installed to ensure maximum energy production. Considering these factors, greater emphasis should be made on putting up a ground-mount solar in India.
Ground-mounted solar PV Systems are an excellent option for many business owners, not just because they can be more efficient than roof-mounted systems but also because they can help them save money on their utility bills. Ground-mounted systems produce much more energy per acre than roof-mounted ones. Business owners with a lot of space in their backyards or yards could benefit from this type of system.
No specific permissions are required to install ground-mounted solar structures in India. The permission needed is only for the land you want to install. If you have a small piece of land you can get permission from your local municipal corporation to install it. If you want to install a large ground mounted solar structure, you need to get permission from a higher authority like a district collector or district magistrate. Sometimes, they will send an inspector who inspects the site before giving permission.
- For a monocrystalline solar PV system, the cost is Rs. 30 per watt
- For a bifacial solar PV system, the price ranges between Rs. 31-32 per watt
- The cost of a polycrystalline solar PV system is Rs. 25.5 per watt.
A solar panel covers roughly 18 square feet of area. So if you plan to install about 2000 solar panels, you will need at least 36,000 square feet of real estate.