Joe Tomlinson’s start as an environmental entrepreneur came with organic apparel, first T-shirts, then founding the Revel Seven company and into developing a denim-finishing process that didn’t involve caustic salts. But when the economy faded a few years ago, he decided the future was in renewable energy. So Tomlinson joined forces with old Aquidneck Island contacts at rTerra, the Middletown solar developer in the process of building out solar farms in the Ocean State.
Once in the solar industry, Tomlinson developed a flexible plastic racking system for solar arrays that could be mounted on delicate locations, especially capped landfills, and founded rTerra PV Solutions LLC (soon to be renamed PV Solutions LLC) to commercialize it. This winter Tomlinson secured a $300,000 state Renewable Energy Fund loan and is in the process of building manufacturing capacity and finding customers.
PBN: How did PV Solutions come together and how is it related to rTerra?
TOMLINSON: During my time in the solar space, I had been introduced to folks at The Cooley Group in Pawtucket and in particular Jeff Flath, who is now at eNow. They were in the [landfill cap] membrane business and wanted to get into solar landfill projects. … I came up with the design that PV Solutions is based on. It allows us to design [a flexible mounting system for solar panels] for exposed membrane caps and connect without having to physically adhere to the cap. They can move independent of the underlying membrane. In doing that we were able to use higher-efficiency panels. We have a subsystem called T-Flex [which] mounts to the membrane and then panels mount to the T-Flex system. We put it on a pilot system on a Cooley-exposed membrane cap in southern Delaware.