Update by TRI President and Technical Director, Rick Olson
Photo courtesy of JBA – Roofing & Solar Consulting
Solar and Tile Roofing
The TRI Alliance Technical team is working to better understand the challenges our industry will face as the white house announced this week the intent to triple the output of Solar Generated power by 2024. With the roof being the most likely location for solar panels, it will create the need for research, discussions, and feedback to the solar industry to overcome numerous challenges.
Currently 67 % of solar panels are coming from China, with US manufacturers accounting for only 1%. The patented designs and mounting systems that are in the market have been in place for some time and have evolved to a few leading manufactures that meet the functionality of integration with most roofing systems.
Protecting Roof Performance with Solar Installations
If US manufacturing ramps up with new component suppliers, we may see additional panel designs that will need review for how to properly install. Over the years the TRI Alliance has worked with numerous mounting system manufacturers to help understand the ability to adapt to our tile roofing products. This includes how to fasten to meet seismic and wind loads, flashings and tile installations abutting the panels for minimal visibility.
Most solar panels are installed by solar installation companies with technicians that have been trained in electrical connections and not for the complexity of a roof system installation. This creates problems as the routing of conduits, collectors and panels requires integration into existing roof assemblies without damaging the long-term performance of the roof. The issues of contractor warranties on existing roofs, damage during installation, and additional foot traffic over an entire roof during the process will need discussions and training.
New products entering the market will be looking to obtain formal code evaluation approvals for use with various roof systems. The TRI Alliance technical committee will be reaching out to various partners to help identify challenges each system or product might encounter.
The Need for Training
There is the need for formal training and certification of solar contractors to have both the electrical and roofing expertise. Currently there are very few contractors that can provide both expertise. To triple the market in just 18 months will severely challenge the available contractors that can perform the work, leading to potential quality and performance issues in the marketplace.