Canadian Manufacturing

Profab Solar cuts PV kit install time with Bilagot technology

Plans 20 deployments in southwestern Ontario.

LONDON, Ont.—Profab Solar has signed a deal to use mounting technology from Bilagot Energy, based in Sarnia, Ont., to help to reduce the installation time and cost associated with its pre-assembled ground- and rooftop-based photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Under the agreement, 20 Profab solar energy kits with Bilagot’s mounting technology will be deployed in southwestern Ontario during the third quarter of 2012.

Fifteen of the deployments will be ground-based for customers in the agricultural market, while the remaining five will be small, commercial rooftop deployments, Livio Filice, director of sales for Profab, says.

Profab PV systems take 90 per cent less time to deploy compared with traditional field-based systems, Filice explains, because the PV systems are assembled in-house and shipped on flatbeds to the customer. This reduces labour costs and the pains associated with project management.

“This partnership will enable us to build on early success with the factor assembled system by further reducing installation time and cost by expanding our distribution with Bilagot and their channel partners,” he adds.

Bilagot developed two mounting systems—a ground mounting system using eight-inch screws and a rooftop mounting system using guy-wire—with the University of Western Ontario’s Research Park and with sponsorship from the L910 initiative, a group of PV system component manufacturers and educational institutions that collaborated to develop a solar panel racking system that was vastly cheaper and much faster to install.

Profab is a joint venture between Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd., in Calgary, Alta., and Steel Tree Structures in Orillia, Ont., that was first announced back in April, which was formed to provide customers with low-cost turnkey solar system solutions.

Michael Carten, chief executive officer of Sustainable Energy Technologies pointed to a report from McKinsey&Company.

According to Solar Power: Darkest Before Dawn, released in March, more than half the cost of a solar system is due to the price of solar components, including wires, switches, inverters and labour costs for installation.

Solar system providers can reduce costs by implementing techniques used by mature industries such as modularization, pre-assembly, standardization and automation.

“That’s what this announcement is about,” he said.

ProFab’s 12 kilowatts-at-peak (kWp) and 15-kWp kits are assembled in Orillia, Ont., and are based on technology developed in the province, Filice says.

The solar panels come from Toronto, Ont.-based Eclipsall Energy Corp., inverters from Sustainable Energy’s operation in Guelph, Ont., and racking from Steel Tree in Orillia, Ont., which uses steel sourced from suppliers in Hamilton, Ont.

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