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SEI PV351L Alumni Creates Solar Snow Blower

Posted by: chris
February 26, 2014

by Dean Iandoli - President at Quabbin Solar - SEI Alumni

First of all, the PV351L course in Nevada was very, very good.  Not only was it really informative, but it had a very good vibe to it and we credit your instructors with that. Thanks again to SEI for such a successful advanced course!

The Invention of the Solar Snow Blower

"Oh don't worry, it'll just slide off."  That's what I heard over and over again as I was building my first solar farm in Massachusetts.  I own two different 2MW solar generating facilities in central MA.  They are both ground mounts with 2x portrait racks at a 30 degree angle.  There is 24" from the leading edges of the arrays to the ground.  "Wait, so you're telling me that snow is just going to slide off…I do't think so" was usually my response.  But over and over I was told to not worry…which didn't convince me.  And my concerns were validated during the system's first winter 2012/2013.  In Massachusetts we had what I would call a very average winter as far as snowfall went.  And guess what, the snow didn't always just slide off.  In fact I watched during the end of December and beginning of January how a compilation of snowstorms flatlined my production for 8 days straight. Screw that.

So I knew I wasn't going to send a bunch of shoemakers out in the snow with brooms, shovels and scrapers to get the snow off.  I just figured high velocity air would work.  I mounted the first machine on top of my bulldozer in Feb. 2013 and, although not perfect, I knew I was onto something.

We engineered the newer machine to be attached to the end of the mini-excavator boom and now it is incredibly effective in getting the system back into production right away.  The output numbers of the farms we service (including my own and Brett's, who was also at the course and is my partner in Maximum Solar) compared to other ground mount systems within a 15 mile radius who do nothing, are astonishing.  Our payback occurs within 3/4 of an average February day of production based on PV Watts II at 83% de-rate.

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