Some commercial property owners and homeowners choose to forego rooftop installations of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels in favor of ground-mount installations. Many municipalities have taken advantage of brownfields – unused land that may have once been developed or warehoused for development but is no longer useful – or landfills and dumps.
The ground mount approach avoids many of the pitfalls and obstacles of rooftop arrays. At the same time ground mounts bring with them their own issues and risks, some generic and others site-specific.
This article examines some of the considerations that will arise in undertaking a successful ground mount installation.
Adverse Rooftop Issues. In assessing the benefits of ground mount installations it is useful to consider some of the factors that weigh against rooftop installations. These include:
Ground Mount Considerations. Engineers, contractors and solar hosts must consider a number of factors to determine whether ground mounts are even feasible. These include:
Cost factors. In general ground mounts have proven to offer economies of scale when compared to rooftop installations. At the same time other costs – such as ballasts required to position panels over landfills, the cost of anchoring and embedding cement posts, or lashing against wind shear – can add costs that may not be seen in rooftop projects.