Mobile Solar: Thinking Beyond the Roof
The era of mobile solar has arrived.
Mobile solar units are gaining traction in the solar world as a flexible way to generate green energy without committing to the expense or construction of a permanent solar roof install—not to mention the hassle of securing a permit.
But that’s just the beginning.
While solar pv systems are traditionally used to generate energy as an alternative form of power, there’s a new type of mobile solar system ushering in a fresh, exciting purpose: to utilize the solar energy generated by the mobile solar unit itself to create a self-sustaining revenue stream.
How does this type of mobile solar work?
In addition to a main solar panel that generates the necessary power, the mobile solar unit can be customized with modules on the left and right side for various purposes: cameras for surveillance and monitoring; multi-media LED screens for advertising; and dual electric charging stations, to name just a few capabilities.
This type of multi-purpose portable solar system is the “Swiss army knife” of solar, explains Scott McClure, Managing Director of HUB International Insurance Services Inc., and one of ProSight’s solar insurance distributors. “The modules can expand and contract, which means they can be customized for each individual business.”
Since there’s no need for elaborate construction, mobile solar systems like this are making headway with businesses like gas stations and convenience stores for their relative ease of set up, operation, and customization.
Here’s how businesses use mobile solar: The gas station or business leases a customized mobile solar unit directly from a solar developer, who transports the unit via trailer, parks it at the designated location, sets it up on four legs so it’s stationary, then leaves it there for the length of the term. Each trailer comes equipped with GPS monitoring that alerts a call center if the mobile solar unit is moved even an inch, so thieves beware.
These mobile solar units are being utilized by gas stations and convenience stores to generate revenue and appeal to new markets. For instance, drivers of electric vehicles now have a reason to pull into a gas station if they see an available charging station. As they charge, they’re now a captive audience for advertising on the mobile solar unit’s LED screen—or they might pop into the convenience store to buy a beverage or snack.
Store parking lot with mobile solar security trailer.
Strip malls and shopping centers are another area of growth. Place a few mobile solar trailers around the premises, install a couple of cameras on each one, and you now have a surveillance hub for 24-hour monitoring. Or go green on a long-term construction site with a portable solar unit that powers the office trailer in lieu of a diesel generator. The applications seem almost endless.
Of course, this different type of solar energy introduces a different type of exposure. Instead of fall risks that are associated with traditional solar power roof installs, you now have property concerns if the mobile solar unit is stationed around cars that can back up into it or people who interact with it. To alleviate these risks, a fence or steel barrier can be installed around the mobile solar unit.
But a simple fence is a small concession for the mobile opportunities shaking up the industry. “I see mobile solar being utilized in many other industries,” says McClure, “The applications will continue to grow as developers of these units find more and more uses for them.”
One thing is certain: the possibilities for mobile solar systems are as wide open as the customization potential. As new applications are found and the industry continues to evolve, ProSight will stay one step ahead as we innovate coverage for mobile solar and all the latest trends in the solar industry.
— Rebecca Nace,
Value Creation Executive