Software Tool for Code-compliant Assessment of Wind Loads on Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-13ER90694
Agency Tracking Number: 76567
Amount: $224,973.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solitcitation Year: 2013
Solitcitation Topic Code: 07c
Solitcitation Number: DE-FOA-0000801
Small Business Information
35 Hartwell Ave., Lexington, MA, 02421-3102
Duns: 111046152
Hubzone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Ratcharit Ponoum
 (781) 879-1703
Business Contact
 Renee Wong
Title: Dr.
Phone: (781) 879-1286
Research Institution
Presently, the proper installation of PV panels to withstand wind loads is conducted by licensed installers who use and individually interpret the relevant building codes and standards. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE Standard 7-10) includes the most comprehensive design standard for wind loads on roof-mounted PV systems. Furthermore, the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) recommends approaches based on the ASCE Standard 7-10 and 7-05, for the structural design and calculation of wind loads on PV arrays. These design calculations can be laborious requiring expertise in the applicable codes and looking up a multitude of parameters, an exercise that is subject to judgment and prone to human errors. The calculation of wind loads on the panels is the primary concern of this solicitation and proposal; however, installation costs cannot be ignored. Through creating an accessible GUI enabled software platform, TIAX will provide a system that calculates wind loads and recommends appropriate and cost conscious mounting solutions. Presently, the use of racking systems contributes 5% to 10% of the installed material costs, and between 20% and 40% of the labor costs. Through investigating panel configuration options, required number of panels, and mounting schemes based on design loads it could be possible to reduce the overall installation costs, thus overall system costs. What is to be done in Phase I and Phase II: TIAX proposes to leverage its expertise in structural analysis, software development, clean energy and building technologies, to develop an application that automates the calculation of wind loads and provides recommendations for the appropriate PV mounting systems. By creating a software tool, TIAX provides a way to standardize wind load calculation and eliminate human errors. The proposed software will provide a streamlined means for quickly calculating PV array design wind loads and generating suggestions for reducing overall project costs by reducing installation costs. The development of web-enabled software to calculate the design wind load shifts the calculation from each individual PV array design team to one standardized, easily accessible software module. This change helps increase the safety of PV array installation by removing human error from the crucial computations. Additionally, the software & apos;s wind load calculation and recommendations can be used as a baseline against which hand calculations and designs can be compared, again increasing the safety of any PV array designed for a rooftop or ground mounted application.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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