December 13, 2016

Bringing affordable solar power to a parking lot near you

The quest for clean energy has inspired sweeping efforts like the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which holds the ambitious goal of transforming the solar industry. SunShot’s aim is to drive down costs so affordable solar electricity is available to Americans everywhere.

The DoE’s investment has brought millions of federal research dollars to sunny Georgia, with impressive results: An innovative technology developed at Georgia Tech ranks in the top 10 percent of SunShot projects nationwide.

Georgia Tech researchers created a new way to install solar panels on oversized structures like raised parking canopies. The inventive canopies provide a dual purpose by keeping your parked car cool in the shade while gobbling up lots of solar rays for the clean power grid.

To bring their invention to market, the Georgia Tech researchers created a spin-off company, Quest Renewables. The company, which is marketing the structure as the QuadPod™ Solar Canopy, received investment this fall from GRA Venture Fund, LLC, a private investment fund created to help finance promising companies emerging from Georgia's universities.

“The GRA Venture Fund investment was key for us because it also brought access to some very seasoned individuals in the world of early-stage companies,” says Norman “Finn” Findley, CEO. “Young companies need both dollars and expertise to build momentum, and Quest now has that momentum. We’re grateful for the confidence of investors like GRA Venture Fund.”

The QuadPod Solar Canopy meets several essential needs for solar panel installers. The hardware’s modular space frame design requires less than half of the steel used in traditional long-span canopy construction. In addition to creating cost savings in materials, the lighter components are easier and cheaper to ship.

And since the modular space frame is a familiar configuration for experienced construction crews, it’s also easier to put together. So workers can build a canopy in half the time it would take to build a competing canopy system.

Quest Renewables has already helped bring solar power solutions to Atlanta landmarks like the new Falcons’ stadium, where the QuadPod Solar Canopy is offering more efficient parking-lot power generation and will provide about a third of the stadium’s electricity needs. The company is now poised to earn a large share of the billion-dollar solar canopy industry.