Ballasts Vs Pilling – Solar Panel Farm Foundation solutions (for a PV Farm Design)

PV farms or photovoltaic Solar Panel Farms as they are also known are designed and built to gather energy from the sun's rays, which is transformed into electricity. PV farms are a clean and renewable form of energy, and as such as growing in popularity right now, which means more and more are being built. Those in charge of the design and construction of PV farms must make a decision between two different types of foundations for the panels used. These two types of foundations are ballast, and pilling.

  • Ground Foundations For Solar Panels
  • Ballasts
  • Pilling
  • Advantages & Disadvantages of Both

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    Ballasts Vs Pilling – Solar Panel Farm Foundations


    Ground Mounted Solar Panel Ballasts | Venture Steel Group

    Disadvantages of Ballasts

    What are Ballasts?

    Ballasts are a type of foundation that is designed to not penetrate into the ground. Instead, heavy materials such as loose stones in containers or concrete blocks are fixed to the PV panels to ensure they stay firmly in place, and in contact with the ground.

    Ballasts Are Best Suited To:

    Ballast is best used in locations where solar panel farm ground issues mean it's too soft or sensitive to stand drilling for pilings.

    Advantages of Ballasts

    • Fast, and simple to install and remove
    • Great at providing enough weight to stabilise heavy PV tracks
    • Ballast allows drainage which prevents your pV farmland from flooding
    • Can be laid directly on hard surfaces like rock
    • Can help to minimise the impact of earthquakes on your PV equipment
    • Ballast takes up more square footage than piling because it's placed directly on the ground.
    • Ballast can affect plant growth, due to soil compaction making them unsuitable for solar PV farms using the Agrivoltaics method.
    • Ballast can be expensive to buy, install and also repair.
    • Ballast can be responsible for noise pollution if substances like concrete or glass are used.


    Generic Solar Panel

    Disadvantages of Pile Foundation for solar PV farm design

    What Is Pilling?

    Pilling is a type of foundation that is used in Solar Farm Designs that require holes to be drilled into the ground. Then columns known as piles are usually made from steel or concrete and are fitted into the holes, to which the PV panel tracks can be suspended.

    Pilling is best suited to:

    Areas with limited ground space, as well as locations with deep bedrock or other types of problematic soil conditions.

    Advantages of Pile Foundation for solar PV farm design

    • Piles can be ordered to fit just about any type of specification, making them a very flexible option.
    • Piling can be a fast process because piles can be bought precast
    • Pilling is a cost and space-effective option for large plots of land, such as those used in solar PV farms.
    • Pilling is a tidy and effective way of making PV foundations
    • Pilling allows for duel usage of the land in line with Agrivoltaics-where land is used both to farm solar energy and to grow crops at the same time.
    • Piling installation can be more expensive and time-consuming because they require heavy equipment
    • Pilling does not suit all soil conditions.
    • Pilling may not be compliant with local regulations - it's important to check before you install them
    • Installing pilling can impact neighbouring structures.

    So which is better for solar farm use, ballast vs pilling?

    As you can see from the information above, there are a wealth of advantages and disadvantages to using both ballast and piling as foundations for a PV farm. However, it is worth noting that, unlike ballast, pilling does allow solar panels to be fixed over crops as they grow, without limiting their development. In this way, pilling is usually a better solution for PV farms using the Agrivoltaics of duel approach of farming solar energy while also growing crops simultaneously.

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