TerraSmart’s new TF3L ground-mount is lighter, adds more panels per foundation

TerraSmart ground mount TF3L

TerraSmart introduced the latest edition to its racking portfolio, the TF3L. Similar to TerraSmart’s TF2P, the TF3 Landscape Racking System is designed to maximize construction efficiency on large-scale utility-solar sites thus saving the client from unnecessary civil work. In addition, the TF3L accommodates more panels per foundation, reducing overall site cost and optimizes panel capacity.

“TerraSmart’s latest TF3 Landscape system is designed to be much lighter than any of the other parts in our current racking portfolio resulting in longer peak performances of our field employees,” says TerraSmart CEO Ryan Reid. “We are able to install within longer hours and complete projects in much shorter time periods. The new system allows us to maximize efficiency on solar construction sites and continue to stay ahead of the curve with future solar projects benefitting the client, developer and end user.”

RELATED: Pre-assembled mounting structures speed site installation by 35 percent

The TF3 Landscape racking system is configured with 6 high rows by 8 long columns and has a tilt angle of 35 degrees. Yielding to a max table size of 6 x 8, the rack accommodates more panels per foundation and optimizes panel capacity. The system is also paired with TerraSmart’s versatile ground screw foundation that can work in any soil condition, saving time and budget on every site.

Additional benefits of the TF3 landscape module orientation rack include:

• With an integrated wire management, the rack has no extra parts or pieces. This allows workers to simply tuck and go, resulting with a forty-percent reduction in man-hour installation time.
• The ultra-lightweight design allows for easier handling aiding in a longer peak performance of field workers.
• The two-piece simplified hardware stacks increase connection velocity.
• The featured Smart Bracket adapts to steep slopes, minimizing civil work and expediting project schedules.

Designed to meet the most rigorous international standards, the TF3 Landscape Racking System complies with the NEC, is UL 2703 Edition 1 certified and is CPP wind tunnel tested. The system can withstand winds up to 150 miles-per-hour and snow weight up to 60 pounds per square-foot. It is protected under a 20-year limited warranty, ensuring the system’s bankability and reliability over the life of the project.

— Solar Builder magazine

TerraSmart completes New York’s second largest solar project

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The second largest solar project in the state of New York, Shoreham Solar Commons, was completed last month by TerraSmart. Situated on a former golf course, Shoreham will produce 24.9 MW AC of photovoltaic energy for the town of Brookhaven assisting the local utility, Long Island Power Authority, in reaching New York’s 2030 fifty-percent clean energy goal.

TerraSmart was chosen by Shoreham’s general contractor, Eldor Electric, because of the velocity of its installation methods and the ability to save time and money on civil and site work. Unique in that Shoreham was built on a former golf course, the land had an intense irrigation system. TerraSmart’s unique steel forged tip on its ground screws penetrated through the irrigation lines thus saving time, money and eliminating the need for site grading. For Shoreham Solar Commons, TerraSmart combined its turnkey services of site surveying, foundation installation, ground screw installation and the Terrafarm racking system.

Terrasmart

“There were many underground challenges for this project and TerraSmart’s dexterity to handle any unforeseen circumstances positioned us as the right choice when it came to mitigating any and all potential site uncertainties,” says TerraSmart CEO Ryan Reid. “With our ability to install faster and exceed the construction timeline, TerraSmart was pleased to have placed Shoreham Solar Commons ahead of schedule.”

Shoreham Solar Commons is situated on 150 acres of land that is now repurposed to produce clean energy for up to 3,500 homes in the town of Brookhaven while eliminating 29,000 tons of harmful greenhouse gas emissions per year.
For eight years, TerraSmart has been a leader in solar racking, engineering, design and manufacturing of turnkey, ground-mount racking solutions for commercial-to utility-scale solar projects. Bringing more than thirty years’ experience in structural engineering and steel fabrication, TerraSmart has built over 1.8 GW’s of ground mount projects across the United States.

TerraSmart’s innovative ground screw foundation and racking systems have transformed the solar industry by minimizing project risks, ensuring successful installation in all soil types and offering the most cost-effective solutions. For more information, visit www.TerraSmart.com.

— Solar Builder magazine

TerraSmart to open N.Y. office to support growing Northeast solar business

TerraSmart logo

In January 2018, TerraSmart, an innovator in ground mount racking solutions for utility-scale solar projects, will open an operational hub in Selkirk, New York. The 10,000 square-foot facility was strategically chosen to support its growing construction operations in the Northeast and will serve as a blueprint to set up future construction hubs across the country in locations where solar is expanding.

Situated on thirty acres of land, the multipurpose yet cutting-edge facility will provide efficient support to field operations nearby. The hub will house TerraSmart’s custom installation machines and be a service center for all of its machines and trucks, therefore aiding in quicker response time. The building will also serve as a training facility for all East Coast construction staff enabling them proper certification of TerraSmart’s proprietary install techniques. Additionally, the hub will act as a product showroom for clients to come view, learn and be trained on the vast products and machines TerraSmart utilizes to install a solar farm.

“It’s very satisfying to call Selkirk TerraSmart’s construction home. New York has been a great state for solar and we are looking forward to creating more solar jobs to support our expanding construction activities across the Northeast,” says TerraSmart CEO Ryan Reid. “The facilities’ design and purpose will serve as the blueprint of which TerraSmart will use to set up future construction hubs, thus supporting our continuous pursuit of enhancing the solar construction experience for our clients.”

Q&A: We get the inside scoop on Terrasmart’s new Robo-Surveyor

— Solar Builder magazine

Mounting Pressure: Today’s large-scale PV boom demands new levels of service from racking companies

Solar FlexRack

For the first time ever, in 2016, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. In total, solar accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types, and these big numbers are coming via big installs as the utility-scale segment grew 145 percent from 2015.

“In a banner year for U.S. solar, a record 22 states each added more than 100 MW,” says Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar research. “While U.S. solar grew across all segments, what stands out is the double-digit gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar’s cost competitiveness with natural gas alternatives.”

The trend shows no signs of reversing, and as utility-scale solar projects continue to boom, the industry demand for material and logistical services will keep increasing pressure on suppliers like never before.

Raw materials bottleneck

“It’s a simple matter of supply and demand,” says Chuck Galbreath, VP of supply chain at SunLink. “If I have more time, I can find more options and drive down costs. When schedules are compressed and I’m forced into a tight delivery window, I have to go with the supplier who is able to deliver in the time allotted, which allows less room for negotiation.”

Others agree: “We often encounter requests for expedited finished product that can be more aggressive than the lead times from the steel mills. For our proprietary racking systems, OMCO is now maintaining a responsible level of steel inventory to support these instances,” states Todd Owen, General Manager of OMCO Solar.

The time pinch has led to more in-house manufacturing. “The top five racking manufacturers have reached economies of scale where additional volume no longer decreases price, forcing manufacturers to vertically integrate by producing more parts and material in-house,” says Paul Benvie, VP of engineering at TerraSmart.

Because the sector is so dependent upon the steel market, finished product pricing can be volatile. The recent anti-dumping lawsuits spurred market increases that were felt in all steel industries, including solar. Benvie says TerraSmart has countered the pricing roller coaster by making strategic hedge buys and leaning on suppliers to honor and hold pricing so they are capable of manufacturing product at a reliable price point.

To help combat delivery delays, more mounting companies also are establishing regional centers. “Steel delivered to and from opposite coasts can have a significant impact on costs and schedules,” Benvie says. “Strategic manufacturers have set up facilities that are centrally located and/or have different branches at opposite ends of the country. For example, TerraSmart has opened a new manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ohio, and can manufacture identical parts out of the Southeast, Southwest and New England.”

RELATED: We look at the value decentralized tracker systems bring to a project 

Timelines keep shrinking

“As the solar industry matures and adopts the more typical rigid large-scale construction approach to project schedules, timelines have been compressed and suppliers are now expected to adhere to strict, tight daily schedules,” says Nick Troia, VP of corporate quality and project management at SunLink. “It is a more professional atmosphere that in some cases is straining the less sophisticated suppliers.”

The compression is substantial: “We ask customers for a 12-week lead time, but in this market we are lucky if we get eight,” says Larry Reeves, a project manager for Array Technologies Inc. (ATI). “Schedules are crazy now.”

Seasonal variations also intensify weather constraints. “The solar industry is challenging, as many financiers, developers and EPCs push to close projects out in Q4,” Benvie says. “In New England, this can be increasingly challenging with projects kicking off as the daylight hours get shorter, temperatures drop and field conditions deteriorate.”

“Without getting into the dollars and cents, delays can be very costly, such as the triggering of liquidated damages that could accumulate at thousands of dollars per day or by hindering project completion for a tax credit deadline,” observes Troia.

Losses can be the cost of customer maintenance, too. In some of these unavoidable situations, someone involved in the project has to recognize and proactively eliminate a delay before it happens.

“We believe we are truly partners with our clients, so we commonly shoulder costs or increase productivity to minimize the sting of a delay, regardless of who caused it,” Benvie says.

Next, we look at the turnkey services and systems designed for saving time on project development.

— Solar Builder magazine

Check out TerraSmart’s new fleet of solar site-mapping drones

TerraSmart keeps on churning out futuristic site mapping technology for the solar industry that focuses on automation and speed. First was this automated surveying robot (which we will have more on in our Jan/Feb issue), and now the company is hyping up its new FAA-certified High Precision Aerial Site Mapping (HPASM) service.

Terrasmart drone solar site map

TerraSmart’s High Precision Aerial Site Mapping drone.

TerraSmart says the HPASM is able to cover 50-80 acres per each hour of flight time, allowing a site of 5 MW to be completely mapped with the data processed in only 48 hours. HPASM identifies trouble spots before sites are cleared, mitigating problems early to better manage risks and contain costs.

Possible benefits of this service include:

• Speeding project velocity
• Increasing accuracy and eliminating human error
• Delivering a complete site topography very early in construction to simplify pre-engineering
• Capturing aerial photography to produce orthomosaics & 3D models with an absolute accuracy down to 1 inch

“Our new High Precision Aerial Site Mapping service allows TerraSmart to complete the topographic map with phenomenal quality and accuracy,” says Ryan Reid, TerraSmart CEO. “Greater efficiency in designing systems for our clients allows us to increase project velocity so that systems get on-line to generate profits faster.”

You can get more info on TerraSmart’s drone technology here.

— Solar Builder magazine