ProLogis debuts dedicated rooftop solar PV test array, featuring eight different module types

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ProLogis’ renewable energy group has opened what it calls the first dedicated comparative test site for solar modules operated by a real estate development company. The 11KW (DC) rooftop system, located in Denver, CO, includes 99 photovoltaic panels from eight different manufacturers and features a range of thin-film and crystalline-silicon module types.

The initial configuration of the system, which is already generating power, provides side-by-side comparisons of several PV technologies, including monocrystalline silicon (Suniva), glass-on-glass CdTe, a-Si, and CIGS  thin film (First Solar, GS-Solar, MiaSolé, Solyndra), and membrane-applied CIGS and a-Si thin film (Ascent Solar, ECD Uni-Solar, Xunlight).

The installation on top of the ProLogis Stapleton Business Center also incorporates 16 individually monitored strings, each designed to test a certain system parameter, according to the company.

“We were the first real estate company to develop a program dedicated to accelerating the deployment of large-scale distributed solar, and now we are expanding our efforts in this area with a dedicated test site,” said Walt Rakowich, CEO of ProLogis. “As PV technologies evolve and new companies enter the market, it is critical that ProLogis understands the technology and installation differences to ensure we arrive at the optimal solutions for our installations at each building and location.”

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As a part of the test site, in partnership with HatiCon Solar, ProLogis said it has designed a new racking system especially for utility-scale rooftop solar installations.

Matt Singleton, VP of renewable energy at ProLogis, explained that as a “real estate developer and owner, we seek the most compatible solution for our rooftop installations, both in terms of structural loads and roof integrity. This new attached rack design combines standardized, lightweight aluminum parts with the long-term assurance of a maintainable and warrantable watertight connection to our buildings.”

Executives from participating companies voiced their enthusiasm for the new facility.

“We commend ProLogis for establishing this test site to open the door for testing of emerging technologies such as ours in parallel with other established PV technologies,” said Farhad Moghadam, president/CEO of Ascent Solar. “This important installation for Ascent Solar will provide us with valuable, real-time performance data that’s critical in setting the stage for our product readiness in rooftop and building integrated market opportunities.”

MiaSolé CEO Joe Laia said that “continued improvements in conversion efficiencies, manufacturing yields, and cost reductions have helped make photovoltaic solar one of the most affordable and efficient types of renewable energy today.”

“We are pleased to participate in the ProLogis test site to demonstrate that our distinct manufacturing process produces CIGS modules that offer a compelling value to our customers.  MiaSolé and ProLogis share a common goal of expansion for large-scale distributed solar installations,” he added.

The test site marks the first Colorado project for MiaSolé and is the seventh testing facility in the United States to feature the company’s CIGS modules.

ProLogis said it has solar projects installed or under construction on 32 buildings throughout France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United States, covering more 984,800 square meters of roof space and totaling 24.6 MW in capacity. The company has more than 42 million square meters of roof space worldwide available for PV installations.

The company also recently announced a deal with Southern California Edison to deploy up to 40% of the utility’s 250MW distributed-generation solar power project on the rooftops of ProLogis distribution warehouses in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, with installation of the first five systems slated to begin this year.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF PROLOGIS

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