Milwaukee high-rise adds 83-ft vertical solar array

Building owner Dominion Properties wanted to transform the brick wall of one of the largest office buildings in Shorewood, Wisc., into a valuable asset. The result is an innovative 83 ft vertical solar array on the side of the seven-story building. Tenants of that building can look forward to a reduction in their annual energy bills: the solar array is forecast to produce approximately 58,000kWh annually – equivalent to the annual energy use of six homes.

“Solar represents a huge market opportunity for commercial office locations,” explains Mike O’Connor, Co-Founder, Dominion Properties. “Being an office building – where typical working hours are when the most energy is used – a proportion of the building’s energy will come from solar. This means our tenants can enjoy savings on their energy bills, particularly important today as the cost of energy continues to skyrocket. This project is the first of many, and we hope that it will encourage other developers to make use of otherwise wasted space on high-rise buildings by embracing solar as a clean, cost-saving energy source.”

Design decisions | Producing a vertical solar array of this kind – in a populated area with shading from neighboring buildings – represented a significant challenge. The installer, Wisconsin-based Arch Solar, chose SolarEdge’s DC-optimized technology for the project to overcome inherent design challenges to vertical solar arrays.

“This far North in Milwaukee, the ideal installation for modules is at a 23° angle for maximum sun exposure and to help snow clear,” says JD Smith, Head of Business Development at Arch Solar. “However, for wall installations such as the vertical high-rise array with Dominion Properties, this is a more complex challenge, as the modules need to be mounted at a 90° angle.”

The 54 kW installation features 120 solar modules secured using masonry anchors in an array 83ft high by 23ft wide, as well as three SolarEdge Inverters with Synergy Technology and SolarEdge Power Optimizers which are attached to the modules to maximize the performance of each module in the array.

Smith continues: “An added advantage of using SolarEdge is having the option to oversize the Synergy inverters by up to 200%. This will enable Dominion Properties to add more modules to the array in the future should energy demand increase without having to invest in new equipment.”

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