Geoballasted Ground-Mounted Solar Panels

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
727
Texas
The power company gave final approval yesterday and installed the pv meter. It's a very nice feeling to have these actually producing energy (though we are so desperately in need of rain that I'd be grateful for clouds and storms right now. I've told my husband that there will be at least more of a bright side to the sunshine now when the rare forecasts for rain disappoint us.)

When the trench got filled in, the owner of the company brought a little skid steer to do the job himself. I was really grateful that since he already had the machine on our property, he asked us to think of other projects with which he could help us. We had already discussed using rocks from our "rock pit" to geoballast the panels, but since that didn't work, he used them to line fence lines around our property where there has been a lot of erosion. Where the previous owners had done this, our property is several feet higher than the neighbor's, so we hope that filling in these previously empty fence lines will help hold back some of the soil that remains. (The rock pit used to extend to the t-posts in the first picture.)
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Our property is sort of naturally terraced in places, and one level above the solar panels, we have a fire pit. Previously we had used a hand dolly to move rocks to our fire pit area for seating, but some weren't such good seats. The solar contractor left our good ones but cleared out the lesser ones and replaced them with others that had come from the trenching or that we pointed out in other areas of the property. We figure that our rocks are quite a natural resource around here.

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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
727
Texas
We've had just over a month of solar production from our array now and have produced about 1700 kWh. Unlike more northern latitudes, this is when we produce our surplus power since our energy demands are lower at this time of year. It is getting colder, though, so we've been running some electric space heaters more than we used to. (We also have a woodstove insert in our main living area.) Our gas furnaces are set to 65 and don't come on often.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,854
South Puget Sound, WA
Colder panels output more too. Summer heat can decrease output, especially on a hot black roof.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
727
Texas
Colder panels output more too. Summer heat can decrease output, especially on a hot black roof.
Yes, our panels will suffer in the heat of summer. There will be an increase in production but not as much of an increase as one might expect in relation to the increased irradiance. Thankfully ours are a ground mount above some pretty white limestone, but it's still like a furnace in the summer. We expect that we won't produce enough in July and August to match our use, but it will put a pretty big dent in it. That seems to be the opposite of most solar users on here who use their summer production to offset their winter use.