The future of rooftop solar canopies In US Industry is very bright. Urban Energy, a distributed energy project developer based in Brooklyn, New York, recently opened a solar racking company with a focus on installing rooftop solar canopies in metropolitan areas around the United States.
The new company, known as Urban Racking, was established in Brooklyn, New York, in connection with the installation of Urban Energy’s first solar canopy system.
The 46 kW solar canopy, which is situated in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood, received official approval from utility Con Edison in October. According to Russell Wilcox, founder and CEO of Urban Energy, it is made up of 118 Canadian Solar bifacial modules (390 watts) and SolarEdge inverters with optimizers.
Urban Energy’s solar canopy is rated at a 4.5% shade factor and is more than three times bigger than typical rooftop-mounted solar systems, whose average output is 14.8 kW. This represents a 16.3% decrease from earlier rooftop solar systems, whose shading factor for a comparable rooftop system was around 20.8%.
According to Wilcox, the solar canopy outperformed earlier rooftop solar systems in New York City by 17.2% in its first week of operation, producing 754.1 kWh, while its relative output without shading was around 17.5 kWh per kW.
According to the company, Urban Racking systems have a number of benefits. Bifacial modules are used to optimise solar potential, there is no fire lane incursion or obstruction due to construction codes, and the systems are compatible with heat pump and energy storage systems.
Urban Racking’s systems are installed with overlapping support beams that double the number of modules installed, allowing for 30% more energy production and three times the project value for the building owner when deployed with batteries or heat pumps because many urban buildings frequently have an internal courtyard or rear-facing gap.
The core framework of Urban Racking’s canopy system is internally designed and produced. For upcoming generation systems, the corporation might buy hardware from a solar tracker vendor or create its own tracker, according to Wilcox.
The solar canopy system’s first installer and partner is parent company Urban Energy; once its third-generation canopy enters production in roughly a year, the business will add new installation partners.
By the end of 2022, a second-generation canopy system from Urban Racking will be constructed in the Harlem district of New York City. According to Wilcox, the business expects to close a $1.5 million pre-seed stage venture capital for Urban Racking after deploying its third canopy system in the Bronx during Q3 23. According to Wilcox, the company plans to start doing business in other markets in early 2024, including Chicago and the District of Columbia.
In the next years, Urban Racking anticipates a $5 billion market for rooftop solar systems, with more than 75,000 buildings in New York City serving as a project pipeline for 40,000 jobs. The company is now working on three projects with low to moderate income building owners, while another 51 projects are waiting for permits. The business contends with Brooklyn Solar Canopy, SunModo, and Lumos in the racking industry.
Urban Energy- DOE, NREL Award Recipient
In April 2021, Urban Energy competed for the American Made Solar Prize, which was sponsored by the Department of Energy. To expand its solar canopy prototype, the company has so far secured $150,000 in funding from the DOE and NREL as well as $75,000 in DOE vouchers for collaborations and research laboratory possibilities.
Wilcox established Urban Racking earlier this year, and as its CEO and director of business development, respectively, they appointed Mark Preston and Matt Binder. Binder formerly worked in business development positions at Array, Clear Skies Solar, and RP Construction Services, while Preston served as vice president of engineering at Array Technologies and FTC Solar.
Russell Wilcox, a NABCEP engineer, and Ilona Wilcox, the company’s chief operating officer, established Urban Energy in July 2017 with the intention of enhancing solar access for low- and moderate-income owners and renters of multifamily buildings.