NRG Energy has been making waves across the solar industry, from owning some of the world’s largest solar farms - like the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch - to installing solar on homes. Now the company is taking its innovation one step further and offering solar-powered canopies through its subsidiary Sunora Energy Solutions.
The modular system, which NRG unveiled at the recent Solar Power International conference in Chicago, comes in four sizes. The mini and model 1 are both 2.4 kilowatt arrays, with the mini measuring 15 feet by 14 feet and the model 1 measuring 7.5 feet by 27 feet. The other models, model 2 and model 3, are larger. The 15 foot by 27 foot model 2 has a 4.6 kilowatt array and the 22.5 foot by 27 model 3 has a 7.3 kilowatt array. The devices are designed to work on-grid, but can also be configured to include battery storage, allowing them to work off-grid or when the grid is down.
NRG envisions the solar canopies to be used in a variety of applications, ranging from the canopy or carport over a bank or gas station to a shady backyard porch. The canopies are customizable in look and PV module type. Since they’re modular, they are quick to assemble and their pre-fabricated construction makes them less expensive to install; the ease of deployability was one of the things NRG was most interested in.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, NRG began to take a more urgent look at providing a solution that could meet basic power needs in the event of a grid emergency,” said Tom Doyle, President and CEO of NRG Solar. “We believe in bringing renewable energy solutions—like the NRG Solar Canopy—to customers in new and innovative ways that extend beyond the rooftop so customers are not limited in their approach to energy independence.”
“Upon testing the idea with customers, we found that there also existed a strong demand for a solar power generating solution that would complement their architectural environment and make a statement for their brand,” Doyle added.
NRG has already begun providing solar canopies to some businesses. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is currently deploying the solar canopies and also installing ground mounted solar installations on select hotels and resorts.
The customizable canopies allow the installations to integrate with each hotel. “At Starwood, we are making every effort to reduce our energy consumption and work toward our company’s sustainability goals,” stated Andrea Pinabell, Director of Sustainability and Global Citizenship at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “Partnering with NRG to install solar canopies in a variety of customized configurations not only help us offset our electricity costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint but also adds a design element to our properties which can add to the guest experience.”
NRG anticipated making the canopies available to businesses in the fourth quarter of 2013 and to homeowners in 2014. “The NRG Solar Canopy can be incorporated into large-scale commercial use as part of a comprehensive rooftop, ground mount, or solar parking solution that could also be included in a power purchase agreement (PPA) from NRG Solar,” a spokesperson for the company said.