Global solar sales and design software company PVComplete released PVCAD Mega today, the first and only CAD software for utility-scale PV projects, built on Autodesk technology. PVCAD Mega delivers precise solar engineering and layouts for tracker and fixed-tilt projects of any size in five minutes or less.
“Solar engineers love CAD software because it provides responsiveness and the precision canvas they need to create accurate drawings in a way that cloud software can’t match,” explains PVComplete CEO Claudia Eyzaguirre. “But vanilla-variety AutoCAD wasn’t created with solar in mind. It doesn’t know how to design for optimal energy production. With PVCAD Mega, solar engineers now have a uniquely solar flavored CAD product for the first time. The platform delivers essential CAD performance while also providing solar functionality, including integrated racking and module databases.
What’s cool about it?
In addition to enabling the industry’s fastest layout speed, PVCAD Mega also improves the accuracy of project modeling with advanced capabilities such as topography pier analysis.
Where legacy utility scale project design relied upon slope analysis based on aerial site views and computations of an average grade, PVCAD Mega now makes pier analysis at scale possible for the first time, replacing average grade with unique post heights for every pier on a project site. The result is more informed constructability and equipment decisions, as well as lower material and installation costs.
We will have an in-depth feature on slope vs. pier analysis in our upcoming Mounting Guide. Make sure you are a subscriber.
Other key features include:
• Click-and-drag full and partial tracker blocks and angled layouts
• Automatic placement of partial trackers, access roads and equipment pads
• Advanced topography analysis in less time, including custom topo data
• Side-by-side layout comparisons that reveal the outcome of different structural component selections
• NEXTracker and Array Technologies integrations
Eyzaguirre believes PVCAD Mega is poised to revolutionize solar projects built on terrain.
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“In an era in which large, flat square project sites have given way to those with boundaries that resemble a gerrymandered political district with varied terrain, new design practices are essential,” she says. “PVCAD Mega empowers everyone in the utility-scale solar project development and EPC process to more rapidly and accurately design, optimize and construct fixed tilt and tracker installations worldwide in today’s challenging utility-scale environment.”
The platform has already been deployed on behalf of leading utility-scale solar developers and EPCs, including Lightsource BP, a strategic partnership formed in 2018 between Lightsource Renewable Energy and global energy company BP.
“PVCAD Mega has been instrumental in increasing our productivity,” says Lightsource PV Development Engineer Leonardo Silva. “Having the ability to create large-scale tracker layouts in minutes that are up to Lightsource standards for quality, efficiency and effectiveness is a game changer for us and is helping accelerate our project deployment throughout North America.”
PVCAD Mega is available with or without bundled AutoCAD software on a monthly or annual subscription basis.
— Solar Builder magazine