Concrete curbs solar energy innovator’s steel frame array installation costs

Sources: Alion Energy, Richmond, Calif.; CP staff

A service provider deploying automated technologies to optimize utility scale solar plants recently unveiled patented installation and cleaning robots for ground-mounted panel arrays, operation of both devices turning on a concrete base and rail placed with proprietary mold-equipped curb and gutter machines.

“Extruded concrete is very competitive with steel post and rack systems typically used in utility scale, ground-mounted solar arrays. Standard 3,000 psi concrete is locally available and provides a uniform structure for our panel installation and maintenance automation,” says Alion Energy CEO Mark Kingsley. “Metal rack and pole components often have to be shipped considerable distances, from remote locations, and are more labor-intensive to install than the Alion concrete base and rail alternative.

“We feel the potential cost savings from a concrete and robotics package can economize array installations to a point where more municipalities, utilities and other potential operators decide to tap solar energy.”

Alion Energy has announced the robotics package anticipating prospective partnerships with concrete producers and practitioners, who can serve as subcontractors on public and private array installations. Company officials estimate that if all U.S. ground installations in 2012 had used the Alion base and rail in lieu of the conventional steel assemblies, concrete requirements would have been 2 million yd. — Alion Energy, Linda Ramos (concrete/construction contact), 510/965-0868 ;