Hyperion founder, J. David Marley, began his pioneering work in large scale solar production in 2008 after he installed a 100 kW rooftop solar array at his construction company’s new headquarters in Amherst, MA. Dave’s quest for answers as to how he could generate more power than his rooftop system led him to look downward, off the roof, for more square footage. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Dave knew that there was no scrub or unused land in New England as is the case in other parts of the United States. Any large scale solar production in the northeast would have to either take the land out of production, which can be very expensive or, better yet, co-exist with productive land.
So in 2009 Dave began working with experts at University of Massachusetts Amherst to conduct research and test the theory that solar arrays can be installed over farmland while allowing the crops below to grow unaffected. Once this theory was proven, the next big hurdle was to devise a system that allowed construction without disrupting fertile land. Tradition holds that structures are anchored in the earth using concrete. Put very simply, concrete and farm land don’t mix well. Dave had to devise a system that anchored the load without concrete. The system also had to account for farmers occasionally changing or rotating crops, and it had to be inexpensive to install and maintain. Dave and his team set out to engineer and test such a design.
Hyperion’s system strikes a perfect balance of all these factors and allows the dual use of land.This first installation was at the University of Massachusetts Agriculture Research Center in South Deerfield, MA in 2010, and it is fully operational. The system has generated significant interest from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
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