What is Ground Mounted Solar?
Solar PV is a renewable technology that converts the sun's energy into electricity. Each panel is made up of small solar cells consisting of semi-conductive material, commonly made from silicon. This material is used to convert the solar radiation into electricity. When light shines on the cell an electric field is created across the layers, causing electrons to flow and electricity to be generated. Each cell generates a bit of electricity and when connected to form panels and deployed in an array, useful amounts of electricity can be generated. There are two types of solar mounting options: roof mounted and ground mounted.
Ground mounted solar PV is an effective alternative to roof mounted if the latter is unsuitable for your site and it can be just as cost effective and easy to install. Ground mounted systems can actually be more efficient due to their ability to be strategically located, pitched and oriented at optimum angles for solar gain. This means that it is possible to generate more electricity than a roof system of around the same size.
How can Ground Mounted Solar be deployed onsite?
Ground mounted solar systems can be placed anywhere from a few centimeters to several meters above the ground by using a mounting frame ballasted with concrete or pole mounts and anchored securely. Frames can often be adjusted manually to account for the seasonal shifting of the sun. Pole mounts can commonly come with tracking systems and allow the panels to track the suns movements. This means they can turn and tilt automatically to capture the optimum amount of sunshine throughout the day. With such tracking systems, the overall generation of solar panels can increase by 25% or possibly even more.
As with roof mounted, the biggest impact on the generation yield of a solar PV system is shading e.g. by trees or other buildings. Similar to when deploying solar panels on a flat roof, proper spacing of the PV arrays is essential when installed a ground mounted system. The array should be deployed in parallel rows to avoid casting a substantial shadow at low sun angles. Again, the height and tilt angle of the panel, latitude of the site and angle of the sun's path must all be considered. Since they are located at ground level, ground mounted solar arrays are typically much easier to access and manipulate than roof mounted, making installation quicker and safer.
Land suitability is also vital. For example, land that is prone to flooding is considerably less suitable as water may harm the inverter and wiring of the panels if it is not installed with sufficient ground clearance. A proposed installation that is close to areas containing residential properties or recreational features could also face objection from the local community. If the proposed area for installation is located within an ecological, landscape or cultural designation, for example: a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), then planning permission is likely to be denied. If the proposed site is located near an airport, further analysis may also be required in order to obtain appropriate planning permission.