Phoenix Museum Gets Low Profile Solar

Musical instruments are practically as old as humanity, but the new museum in Phoenix that celebrates them comes with cutting edge technology. Most people will never see it, but it’s right there on the roof, where the solar contractor Lumeta just put the finishing touches on the first U.S. commercial installation of the company’s lightweight, roof-integrated PowerPly photovoltaic module.

The module combines a DuPont polymer called Tefzel front sheet and a lightweight composite substrate with high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells to maximize power density, Lumeta explained, eliminating the glass and aluminum frame structure of conventional modules. What that means in practice, said Lumeta General Manager John Pickering , is that “PowerPly attaches directly to the roof membrane eliminating the need for roof penetrations or heavy ballasting, typical of conventional systems.”

roof-integrated PowerPly photovoltaic module, Lumeta, Phoenix

image via Lumeta

So if you’re down on the street looking up at the beautiful new Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix – opened just last year – you won’t even know there’s a 260-kilowatt solar power system on the roof, which reportedly will reduce the museum’s energy costs by 15 percent.

“The low-profile PowerPly modules will be invisible on our roofline, thus enabling our goal to blend into the landscape and be a timeless part of Arizona,” said Bill DeWalt, president and director of MIM.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.