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Optimizing rooftop space with SolOpt presentation

SolOpt is a tool for optimizing and sizing rooftop photovoltaic and solar hot water system installations. This presentation answers the question: ‘How do you decide what type of solar system should be used for a specific facility?’.

As organizations throughout the United States look for ways to cost effectively deploy solar technologies throughout their entire building stock, a need arises to develop a standardized solar rooftop optimization tool. Traditionally, photovoltaic (PV) and solar hot water (SHW) systems have been designed with separate design tools, making it difficult to determine the appropriate mix of the two technologies.

Without a tool that optimizes the two systems on a single building through a single modeling program, building planners are forced to make less-than-optimal solar installation decisions. Because meteorological characteristics and incentives vary significantly from one region of the country to the next, it is becoming ever more important to optimize rooftops for the synergistic application of each solar technology.

SolOpt addresses these issues through the use of a new modeling program that optimizes the roof space of a facility for PV and SHW systems. The tool was designed with the intention of being as user friendly as possible without sacrificing calculation robustness. The tool is set up with a variety of default and auto-sizing features that allow the user to get started with an analysis even if they do not have a technical background.

The tool also has an advanced inputs capability that allows users of a more technical nature to modify detailed, built-in inputs. Starting with 10 inputs, the user will be prompted to enter information on the building location, energy usage, building type, energy rates, and existing building system type. SolOpt then uses built-in data to optimize the roof area allocations and determine the economics associated with each system.

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