This accordion-style modular solar array withstands 166 mph winds

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Australian company 5B’s modular solar array unfolds like an accordion and is designed to endure extreme weather and harsh environments.

Modular solar arrays on the move

The New South Wales-based company has been awarded a 69-megawatt (MW) solar + storage contract by US power utility AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) in Jobos, a hurricane-prone region in western Puerto Rico. The project includes 100 MW of four-hour battery energy storage.

5B will deploy 1,392 of its 5B Maverick modular solar arrays, which can be used for off-grid, remote, commercial, and industrial applications. The 48-50 kilowatt modular ground mount array is prefabricated and pre-wired at a factory in Adelaide, and then they’re deployed at high speed.

The 5B Maverick arrays are specially designed to be robust in the face of harsh, extreme weather environments. They can withstand wind speeds up to 166 mph – ideal for hurricane-prone Puerto Rico. AES’s shipment is scheduled to start in late 2024.

Each 5B Maverick comprises up to 90 solar modules, typically mounted on nine hinged racks between 10 composite steel-concrete beams. The solar arrays are shipped in an accordion-folded stack, unfolded on-site to a 10-degree pitch, and securely fastened.

5B says in Maverick’s specs that the solar array can achieve 98% more energy yield per unit area (kWh/hectare/annum) than single-axis tracker systems and 87% more when compared to fixed tilt structure PV array systems

What’s neat about these modular solar arrays is they can be folded up again and relocated. Check out this installation of 5B Mavericks on Australia’s Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory:

5B CEO David Griffin explained what his solar company’s differentiator is to Electrek via email:

5B’s pre-fabricated solar array, the 5B Maverick, addresses key issues faced by the North American market as the industry scales. Land and remote labor is becoming more expensive and harder to source. Being pre-fabricated means that 70% of the labor is removed from the field. Our 5B Maverick is also energy dense, using half the land of conventional solar array solutions.

Electrek’s Take

Utility-scale solar deployment in Puerto Rico has been slow due to bureaucratic delays, approval hurdles, and extensive infrastructure rebuilding due to hurricanes Maria in 2017 and Fiona in 2022. This unique solar array has the potential to help speed up utility-scale solar deployment.

When it comes to distributed solar, however, Puerto Rico has 680 MW of it, along with 1.6 GWh of residential battery storage. Moreover, about 4,500 rooftop solar systems are being added monthly, with a battery attachment rate of 100% and an average of 1.2 batteries per system.​

I was recently in Puerto Rico and heard many stories of people’s power being out for months. It’s unsurprising that they’re taking matters into their own hands with rooftop solar and battery storage.

Read more: Top US coal producer Wyoming just approved a $1.2B solar farm


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