In mid-September, Hurricane Maria caused major devastation to Puerto Rico, including knocking out the island’s power grid. Weeks after the storm, the majority of Puerto Ricans are still without electricity. While rebuilding will be a long-term effort, a solar photovoltaic (PV) mobile electric generator is helping restore power to the U.S. territory. This portable solar solution, the Sun Commander® Series 8000 from Day & Night Solar (DNS), is providing immediate relief for the island by powering the construction sites where permanent renewable energy sources are being built.
The expansive retractable array framework of the Sun Commander generator is formed from polyurethane composites produced via pultrusion, a continuous, cost-efficient process that utilizes a Covestro LLC polyurethane system. Creative Pultrusions, Inc. pultruded the polyurethane used for the Sun Commander generator’s framework. Utilizing the pultruded polyurethane composite enabled DNS to slash the weight of the Sun Commander Series 8000 generator by ½ ton, according to DNS.
Unlike other traditional materials, strong, yet lightweight polyurethane composites will not rot or rust and are very resistant to corrosion. Given the coastal environment, traditional materials may deteriorate when exposed to salt spray and high humidity. Polyurethane composites are also non-conductive, eliminating the need for grounding, which is especially important for this application.
The Sun Commander Series 8000 generator moves from construction site to construction site throughout Puerto Rico, pulled behind a standard ¾-ton pickup truck. The solar array consists of 36 x 260 watt all-glass panels, creating a total DC system size of 9.36 kilowatts. When not in off-grid use, the versatile Sun Commander generator can be connected to an existing electrical system, helping to reduce the demand on that system by pumping power back onto the grid.
Based on the success of the Sun Commander generator, DNS has expanded its product line with the Sunpoly, according to Bob Eaton, DNS managing partner. “The Sunpoly system is a new, ground-mounted solar racking system manufactured almost entirely from polyurethane composite materials, a first in the industry,” he explains.
The lightweight, easy-to-install Sunpoly system supports a pair of 72-cell solar panels in portrait mode and can withstand winds up to 185 miles per hour. Its corrosion-resistant properties help it withstand all types of environments for years of low-maintenance service. The Sunpoly system also has the same non-conductive properties as the Sun Commander generator thanks to its polyurethane composite materials.
“Advanced polyurethane composites are an ideal fit for solar technologies due to their lightweight, non-conductive and rust-resistant properties, and are far superior to traditional materials,” said Eric Denison, vice president of polyurethane systems, Covestro LLC. “Sustainability is a core part of our mission at Covestro, and we’re proud that DNS continues to use our materials to help advance the adoption of renewable energy sources.”