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Low Cost Dual-Axis Solar Positioning System with Novel Monopole and Integral Lateral Support

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0019890
Agency Tracking Number: 0000254669
Amount: $1,149,995.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 12e
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0002156
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-08-24
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-08-23
Small Business Information
8708 Mountainwood Circle
Austin, TX 78759-7567
United States
DUNS: 116911969
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 James McKinion
 (512) 656-3967
Business Contact
 James McKinion
Phone: (512) 656-3967
Research Institution

Small and medium-scale rural solar adoption has lagged behind traditional urban and utility-scale solar due to a variety of economic and technical issues. While the overall installed solar system cost stands at the forefront of these issues, there are other important concerns such as the levelized cost of energy, safety, dual-use applications, the expiration of the solar investment tax credit, and the potential loss of agricultural tax exemptions that need to be addressed. A novel solution was developed in Phase 1 to directly address the installed system cost, the levelized cost of energy, the safety of people, livestock, and equipment, and the co-development of solar with agricultural lands while preserving the ag-exempt tax status for the property owner. This solution has demonstrated that a modular, single-pole system that does not require concrete for a foundation or special equipment for installation can lower labor and overhead costs. It includes elevated panels with dual-axis solar tracking and has demonstrated its capability for complementary land use with full-sized livestock and crops up to eight feet in height which can provide additional revenue streams for rural land owners. It also is more efficient than traditional rooftop solar with backside power generation from bifacial panels that further increase the return on investment and reduce the levelized cost of energy over the system’s lifetime. Phase 2 development of this solution will build upon the innovative design with knowledge and lessons learned to improve the modular components and further reduce system costs. It will provide for pre- production hardware and qualification testing in anticipation of a commercial launch at the end of the performance period. Operations, administration, and maintenance bidirectional data flow to cloud services will be developed in anticipation of wide scale commercial deployment covering various parts of the United States. Federal Communications Commission emissions and Underwriters Laboratories’ safety certification testing will be carried out to ensure public safety once the solution is available in the commercial market. Future development of the platform in Phase IIA, IIB, and Phase III would integrate new micro-battery storage technologies which sit between the existing solar panel and inverter to provide emergency power backup for property owners and dispatchable distributed energy for peak load shaving for utilities.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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