PVcase launches PVcase Roof Mount for commercial and industrial solar rooftop installations

By PV Tech
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The PVcase Roof Mount software in use. Image: PVcase

PVcase has launched PVcase Roof Mount, a tool for commercial and industrial rooftop solar installations. Land shortage, climate change, and relatively easy implementation make rooftop solar one of the most promising clean energy options.

Product outline

PVcase Roof Mount is an AutoCAD add-on for commercial and industrial photovoltaic projects. It helps to develop photovoltaic roof-mount projects down to the tiniest details.

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PVcase Roof Mount contains solutions that help users make rooftop solar engineering practices faster, more efficient and more accurate. The tool has rapid 3D building preparations, layout generation, shading calculation, innovative electrical design and the capacity to export a bill of material (BOM) and to PVsyst. PVcase Roof Mount provides the required settings information, automatically places modules on a flat or sloped roof, and calculates the overshading of the modules.

It allows users to easily build a model of a roof by inputting its dimensions or simply using an orthographic photo. Moreover, PVcase RM’s shading analysis tool has two functions: the first predicts roof shadows before placing PV modules, creating a shadow projection; the second analyses shade’s energy impact on each module, providing the affected percentage over the course of a day.

PVcase Roof Mount enables users to configure various layout options, including flat south, east-west, and flush mount setups. It allows users to generate modules with an adjustable pitch based on roof slope, location, date and time, which minimises shading between rows and facilitates the comparison of various layouts.

Layout generation enables users to establish module and layout configurations. This process is divided into two distinct features: module settings and layout settings.

Industry challenges

Rooftop solar is set to transform how the world generates and consumes energy in the near future. Its remarkable growth can be attributed to increasingly affordable solar panel technology and supportive government policies. According to SolarPower Europe, 49% of solar PV capacity added in 2022 was on rooftops.

As individuals and communities recognise its environmental and economic benefits, rooftop solar installations have become a symbol of energy independence. Integrating energy storage solutions makes solar power a reliable energy source, reducing dependence on centralised grids and decreasing carbon emissions. The global expansion of rooftop solar can allow for a more sustainable and decentralised energy future.

However, this growth brings significant challenges as well. Namely, the need to quickly scale up the rooftop solar industry while ensuring the correct design and engineering of a growing number of systems, taking into account factors such as geographical location, tilt and orientation of the panels and local climatic conditions.

Solar rooftop design is a complex process that requires precise calculations and can be challenging, especially when deadlines are tight. Moreover, miscalculations often result in deployment delays, more costly permitting procedures, construction mistakes and reduced efficiency. This is where the PVcase Roof Mount can be of benefit.

Technical solution

PVcase Roof Mount offers a technical solution that could alleviate the constraints of solar rooftop installations.

Regarding module settings, PVcase does not offer a pre-defined set of modules based on manufacturer specifications. Therefore, users are required to define these parameters themselves. This includes specifying the module’s length, width, thickness, and power rating.

To position modules on a rooftop using PVcase, the initial step involves defining the layout settings and segmenting the roof into distinct PV areas, each catering to different orientations and module placement. A PV area is a closed polyline outlining a specific roof section. It’s considered a best practice to draw these PV areas while taking into account the offset distances from the roof’s edge.

Having done so, users can see the history of generated layouts and regenerate them according to their preferences. Once the layout is ready, they can proceed with the electrical design with PVcase Roof Mount.

For the electrical design, users can customise strings or use a pre-made template for a quick and detailed design, and modify string labels as needed. Users can also pair modules with the main device in the cabling window, choose a basic or complex design, set the number of strings and maximum power point trackers (MPPTs), and reposition if necessary.

PVcase Roof Mount also has a cabling generating function, which automatically routes through the cable tray, optimising path and dimensions.

To extract all the information from the layout, it is possible to export the BOM as an Excel file. The BOM will contain two different sheets: project overview and electrical information.

The platform can also address economical and organisational engineering concerns by:

  • Reducing the time spent creating the optimal module layout. PVcase provides a fully automated layout for different circumstances and different rooftops.
  • Reducing the time spent creating the optimal electrical design. Automated and semi-automated stringing and cabling based on electrical engineering best practices prevents users from wasting time on repetitive work. Users can override the system solution for specific details if needed. In addition, there is a possibility to go into great detail with this function; that is, to plan all the electrics, including the MPPTs logic and cables’ routes for the installation. Everything is automated, allowing users to intervene and apply their knowledge.
  • Improving the accuracy of their project cost estimation.
  • Improving the performance/energy production of their project.
  • Reducing the number of mistakes made in the design.

Availability

PVcase Roof Mount is currently available for Auto-CAD users.

PV Tech and PVCase are co-hosting the webinar ‘Optimising the design of industrial self-consumption photovoltaic plants’ at 4pm GMT / 9am PDT on 8 November 2023. Expert speakers will discuss how specialised solar software can help overcome these challenges by improving the way solar panels are simulated and modeled, optimising system designs, maximising energy generation and increasing the efficiency of engineering teams. To register and for more information please click here.

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