A former team of Red Deer Polytechnic engineering technology students has come up with a bright idea that makes installation of solar panels safer, easier and less expensive.
And their efforts have earned them the honour of being one of seven provincial finalists for the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta’s (ASET) Capstone Project of the Year Award.
The team of Dean Lunde, Alex Morrison, Ethan Fisher, and Ken Wright sought to prove it was possible to build a clip-type support structure for the solar panels and components. They created a prototype for a mounting system that can be assembled far more easily and quickly than an average piece of IKEA furniture, is simple to install, does not require roof-penetrating anchors, and minimizes the time and tools involved while on the roof of the house.
This means that the process costs less, is safer, and optimizes a return on investment.
“It only takes a couple of common tools to assemble it – a screwdriver and wrench – and it can be done easily by two people in 15 minutes,” Lunde said in a statement.
“It’s refreshing to see these engineering technology students develop a new take on green technology by making it more affordable and user-friendly,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh.
Current roof solar panel designs usually have at least four anchors with flashing for each panel, necessitating the drilling of holes into the roof and additional effort to ensure that those penetrations don’t cause leaks. Installation has also been expensive because it requires the service of technicians with specialized skills who charge high hourly rates.
According to Solar Alberta, Alberta has an excellent, largely untapped solar resource that currently provides less than one per cent of the province’s electrical grid’s make-up. Alberta also has the second highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, ranking closely behind Saskatchewan.
The winning project will be announced in late autumn this year.