5B or not 5B
Large scale commercial solar farms can be time consuming to install and commission. Foundations have to be laid for the ground-mounted frames, the frames installed and the panels fitted to the frames, connected together and tested. All of this is subject to the weather, which can considerably slow down installation and cause cost blowouts.
New South Welsh company 5B has changed the game with their Maverick ground-mounted installation system. The Maverick is a folding array frame system that can hold up to 90 panels in the 500-550 W class. The Maverick is fully prefabricated and is effectively a plug-and-play system that is dropped on-site and opened out into a fully operational solar array (see image at right).
Up to four of the Maverick “blocks” can be shipped in a single 40-foot container for easy transport. They are unloaded on-site and expanded into an east-west solar array—the expanded arrays have alternating slightly east- and west-facing panels. This not only increase rigidity of the expanded array, but also flattens out and broadens the generation curve.
The advantages of such a system are numerous. Being pre-assembled and wired in a factory, quality control can be more carefully maintained, eliminating wiring issues on-site. Deployment of the systems also require far fewer personnel—for example, the 12.8 MW installation at the Happy Valley water treatment plant (see below) took just 52 days and 13 people, while the 2.04 MW system at the King Of The Hill goldfields mine in WA took just eight days using a team of five. A 98 kW system at an EV charging station in Wodonga required just two people and one morning’s work to deploy!
5B have already deployed systems on numerous sites in Australia, as well as in other countries including Panama and Chile, with 78 projects and nearly 69 MW installed so far. They are even looking to use robots for future deployments, for even greater efficiency of installation.