The Solar Energy Industries Association relates that the use of solar power in the United States is rising dramatically. The market is expected to more than double this year. But that won’t be possible without the concrete industries.
Planned installations will total 16 gigawatts of output, more than twice the production of new solar installations in 2015. Solar power is adding more electricity to the grid than the combined total of natural gas, coal and nuclear plants.
According to SEIA reports, this is only the beginning with 53.3 gigawatts of photovoltaic projects in various stages of development.
Concrete industries are already making a difference in the construction of these large solar facilities in various parts of the U.S. If the contribution of the concrete industry’s involvement so far holds true for the future, even more of these solar projects will turn to precast concrete companies to contribute on a wider scale to realize their plans. This is a trend welcomed by the precast concrete industry as the need for more solar solutions continues into 2017 and beyond.
One design for a solar installation in Maryland led to the notion of creating a foundation of specially designed concrete pads. The facility was being built over a landfill that by state law could not be disturbed. The answer was a unique solar precast concrete solution.
The slabs were accurately engineered with grooves for laying the AC cable that would transmit the power to the grid with inserts for tightly sealing aluminum cable covers to protect them. While electrical box forms are standard, this design also included room for a copper ground loop and steel plates to permit anchored cable connections. Without precast concrete to generate these wiring skids, the process would have cost much more and taken much longer.
Precasters are vital to getting these projects completed on time and on budget because of the many benefits the industry provides to construction. The expense, speed of manufacture, installation and quality of product favor concrete over most construction materials. It can also be done under frigid conditions, making it a reliable choice even in the northern winters.
While concrete forms require some specialized equipment, the cost to site developers is lower than most building alternatives.
Utility companies are working with precasters because this is an even more efficient solution than cast-in-place methods. Utility engineers and concrete industries can collaborate to design customized blocks and pads for each installation. Manufactured at climate-controlled facilities, they are simply transported and set in place when the site is ready for construction to begin.
A Solar Partnership
The solar industry is anticipating rapid expansion, but this will also lead to more demand for concrete and concrete products. Del Zotto provides a range of concrete equipment to help precasters meet these demands and benefit from the solar boom. Contact us today.