To improve service reliability for the Northern Victor, having fought with generators, wind power, and thermal electric generators, we built a solar array large enough to power the site year-round. This ended the constant trips to the remote site to refuel and fix broken equipment, reducing OPEX and improving reliability.
To build the site we precast 10ft x 2” galvanized rigid pipe in 5 gal buckets with cement. The frame was built completely from unistrut and pre-designed using Sketchup. The solar panels were low efficiency but good for low light conditions. We used an outback charge controller and several large truck batteries for storage.
We opted for truck batteries because they were easy to procure and light enough to easily manage from a skiff. Not ideal but sometimes you use what you can get.
To build solar properly you must think of it in terms of power generation and not be concerned with power storage except to carry you through an outage. We designed and built our solar array large enough to run the site year-round, producing enough energy on the darkest, shortest day to stay running. The only problems we had were with excessive snow build up, but this always cleared itself up. With our battery bank sized to account for a week-long outage, we never had to travel due to unplanned outages.
We were able to install the entire site and have it online in 2 days, including travel time.