Economic Solution in Solar Energy Systems: Wide Flange Beam W profile and IPE profile

Kocaer Steel offers ready-to-install, economical solutions on hot rolled steel profile products in accordance with ASTM and EN norms, cutting to lengths specific to solar energy projects, machining in accordance with connection and assembly designs, hot dip galvanizing services in accordance with ASTM A123 and EN/ISO 1461 standards. At the same time, the equipment infrastructure and operational processes and packaging and transportation conditions specific to customer demand are provided, while ensuring its quality with control and traceability at every stage.

W and IPE profiles used as solar energy ground mounting material and main carrier have historically been one of the most durable and cost-effective solutions used in solar energy fields. With the continuing need to reduce establishment costs in solar energy systems, it has become necessary to create a lower cost but more durable alternative to roll-form products and welded solutions with different cross-section steel profiles. Thus, hot rolled and galvanized wide flange beam profiles started to be used in the solar energy sector as W profile in American standards (ASTM) and IPE profile in European standards (EN).

As a result of the soil structure with corrosive properties in solar energy fields and its use as ground mounting material in systems in various geographies of the world, some of the profiles remain underground, while some of them are exposed to atmospheric conditions above the ground. For this reason, system applications must have high resistance to soil salinity, atmospheric corrosion, system load, as well as wind and snow loads. In academic studies, it has been seen that compared to different cross-section steel or roll-form profiles, if 50 ksi and higher steel grades are used, it will resist more loads due to the change in bending strength. This provides a significant cost advantage by using less number of carrier profiles compared to other alternatives, thanks to the high strength capacity brought by its high strength, and smaller size and weighted W6 profiles can also be used in the designed structure.

In order to increase the capacities of W profiles, 65 ksi and 80 ksi materials are also used in W6x4 sized profiles. Although it is calculated that the strengths of 65 ksi materials have increased by 30%, and the strengths of 80 ksi materials have increased by 60%, the capacities do not increase in direct proportion to the yield strength due to torsion factors. Considering the 30-year solar energy plant life under average standard corrosion conditions, it is observed that their strength is 26% and 51% higher than 50 ksi quality materials. With this factor, the cost due to the difference in quality during the installation phase is more than the performance that will increase throughout the life of the plant. Instead of this, designing the system by choosing 50 ksi quality material belonging to a top size profile will reduce the purchasing cost as well as reducing the costs of stocking, transportation and installation.

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[1] American Institute of Steel Construction, Steel Construction Manual, 15th ed., USA, 2018.
[2] American Institute of Steel Construction, Specification for Structural Steel Buildings, USA, 2016
[3] Victor Elias, P.E., Kenneth L. Fishman, Ph.D., P.E., Barry R. Christopher, Ph.D., P.E. and Ryan R. Berg, P.E., “Corrosion/Degradation of Soil Reinforcements for Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes,” Ryan R. Berg & Associates, Inc., National Highway Institute Federal Highway Administration, Report No. FHWA-NHI-09-087, November 2009.
[4] USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "USA Soils Corrosion Steel," Esri. [Online]. Available: [Accessed September 18, 2018].
[5] American Galvanizers Association, “Service Life of Galvanized Steel Articles in Soil Applications,” AGA.[Online].Available: [Accessed October 9, 2018]
[6] Daniel Barlow, Alana Hochstein, and Thomas Langill, PhD, “Predicting Galvanized Steel’s Service Life in Soil Applications,” American Galvanizers Association, August 2015.

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