Solar roofs less than a year away

In the solar panel market, you have a few options. You can affix panels to your existing roof, install the ever-popular solar shingles, or park a giant solar array beside the property. But the one thing that hasn’t existed in the market is an entire roof made of solar materials—until now.

Gold River Productions, formerly AerQuest Technologies, has recently announced a pending patent for its solar roof product, which will be installed in place of a traditional roof.

President and CEO of Gold River John Ohlin said the product could be introduced into the market by the second quarter of 2011.

“It’s still in testing,” said Ohlin. “We haven’t started manufacturing; we’ve just finished our financing package to get things going.”

Ohlin and his business partner have spent the last 13 years manufacturing vehicles, trailers, and buildings out of composite materials.

“It was right at the time that the federal government had stopped supporting the aerospace industry,” said Ohlin. “The price of the composite materials went down.” The company used the dip in price to its advantage.

A few years ago, Gold River—at that time, still called AeroQuest—was envisioning a solar/electric tractor, and was researching solar material.

“My business partner did a lot of research,” said Ohlin. “He’s the resident genius around here.” During this research, the company realized that no one else was building photovoltaic-integrated roofs.

With their background in composite materials, like graphite, Gold River executives figured they could build an affordable roof with imbedded solar panels, insulation built in, and make the unit structurally sound. And according to Ohlin, this roof pays for itself.

“We’ve calculated that the return of investment would be realized in about two years—total cost,” said Ohlin.

Gold River used a 20,000 sq ft building as its model for the system. If the average cost of a traditional roof is $20 per sq ft, Ohlin estimates that the solar roof is around $30. However, with the help of tax credits, rebates, and incentives for clean energy, Ohlin said the additional costs are covered. But unlike a traditional roof, this one can be grid-tied, and feed the meter, meaning that, according to Gold River’s numbers, the entire cost of the roof could be returned within two years.

Currently, Gold River is not planning to enter the residential solar market.

“We are going to concentrate on commercial construction,” said Ohlin. The angles and pitches are easier to work with, he said. Residential construction has too many variables.

For now, there are only a few hurdles left before Gold River begins manufacturing the solar-roof systems.

“We need to get testing and certification behind us. The testers have to come and take panels with them to a facility to test,” said Ohlin. And because the solar roof will technically be a part of a building’s design and construction, Gold River needs to bring the idea to architecture firms.

“They are the ones who have to drive the boat, so to speak,” Ohlin said.

And on the name confusion—a situation caused when AeroQuest acquired Gold River, and due to a few technicalities had to assume business under the new name—Ohlin said Gold River will, soon enough, return to its previous name.

“We’ll go back to ‘AeroQuest’ eventually,” said Ohlin. “We’ll be resurrected.”

Pictured: A artist’s rendering of a home with s solar roof. Unfortunately, there are no photos of Gold River’s solar roof yet. Image courtesy of