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Urban Racking will focus on rooftop solar awnings in US metropolitan markets

The company’s first 46kW solar canopy was recently deployed in Brownsville, New York, and features a low shading factor of 4.5%.

Urban Energy, a Brooklyn, NY-based distributed energy project developer, recently launched a solar racking business focused on deploying rooftop solar canopies in US metropolitan markets. The new venture, called Urban Racking, formed alongside the construction of Urban Energy’s first solar canopy system in Brooklyn, NY

Located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the 46 kW solar canopy was officially approved by utility Con Edison in October. It consists of 118 bifacial Canadian Solar modules (390 watts) and SolarEdge inverters with optimizers, said Russell Wilcox, founder and CEO of Urban Energy. pv magazine United States.

Urban Energy’s Solar Canopy is more than three times larger than standard rooftop-mounted solar systems averaging 14.8kW, while Urban’s Solar Canopy is rated at a factor of 4.5% shading. This is a reduction of 16.3% compared to previous rooftop solar systems whose shading factor is approximately 20.8% for a comparable rooftop system.

The solar canopy produced 754.1 kWh of output in its first week of operation, while its relative output without shading was around 17.5 kWh per kW, a 17.2% improvement over previous systems. solar panels on New York rooftops, Wilcox said.

According to the company, urban shelving systems have several advantages. They maximize solar potential with bifacial modules, building codes require no obstructions or intrusion into fire pathways, and its systems are compatible with energy storage and heat pump systems.

With many urban buildings often having an interior courtyard or rear-facing space, Urban Racking’s systems are deployed with overlapping support beams that double the amount of modules installed, allowing energy production of 30% higher and three times the project value for the building owner when deployed with batteries or heat pumps.

Urban Racking designs and manufactures the main structure of its canopy system in-house. The company could source hardware from a solar tracker maker for next-generation systems or design its own tracker, Wilcox said.

Parent company Urban Energy is the first installer and partner of the solar canopy system, while the company will add new installation partners once its third-generation canopy goes into production in about a year.

Urban Racking’s second-generation canopy system will be installed in New York’s Harlem neighborhood by the end of 2022. The company plans to deploy its third canopy system in the Bronx in Q3 23, when at which, Wilcox said, the company plans to close a $1.5 million pre-seed funding for Urban Racking.

The company plans to expand outside of New York to other markets such as Chicago and the District of Columbia in early 2024, according to Wilcox.

Urban Racking sees a $5 billion market for rooftop solar systems with more than 75,000 buildings in New York, providing a funnel of 40,000 projects for the company over the next few years. Currently, the company has three projects under construction and another 51 projects in the permitting phase with low-to-moderate income building owners.

In the shelving market, the company competes with Brooklyn Solar Canopy, SunModo and Lumos.

DOE, recipient of the NREL award

Urban Energy was a finalist in the Department of Energy’s American Made Solar Prize competition in April 2021. To date, the company has received $150,000 in DOE and NREL funding, as well as $75,000 in DOE vouchers for partnerships and research lab opportunities to advance his solar canopy prototype.

Urban Racking was formed by Wilcox earlier this year and hired Mark Preston and Matt Binder as CEO and Director of Business Development. Preston is the former vice president of engineering for Array Technologies and FTC Solar, while Binder previously held business development roles at Array, Clear Skies Solar and RP Construction Services.

Urban Energy was founded in July 2017 by NABCEP Engineer Russell Wilcox and COO Ilona Wilcox with the goal of expanding solar access to low- and moderate-income multi-family building owners and tenants.

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