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September 2016 www.solarpowerworldonline.com

Technology • Development • Installation

THE INNOVATORS & INFLUENCERS ISSUE

+

EATING

AWAY AT O&M COSTS

AND OTHER INNOVATIVE IDEAS, INCLUDING: North-facing arrays New communication protocols Bigger thin-film modules

ALSO: Nine solar innovators working today

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TO UG H. 1GW in the USA deserves a celebration – Join us for a beer. SPI Booth #2945

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THE FIRST WORD

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Jim Jenal Run on Sun Brad Dore SMA America Rick Gilbert Solar Source Natalie Holtgrefe Yaskawa — ­ Solectria Solar Scott Franklin Lumos Solar Wendi Littlefield SunLink Scott Wiater Standard Solar Meghan VincentJones Quick Mount PV

Inspired by innovation The industry has never stopped innovating since we started Solar Power World five years ago—even as companies come and go, even as the market swings up and down. In this issue, we look at solar innovators and influencers. The individuals profiled, who were chosen by the heads of leading solar companies, are an inspirational group. They’ve made me consider who and what else I find inspiring about our industry. I’m inspired by the people behind the scenes who innovate and influence this industry for the better. These individuals have developed new ways to deploy solar in lowincome and underserved communities, stressed the importance of quality solar training and workforce education, engineered innovative data-driven tools for maintaining grid reliability and created new models for communities to sell their excess power at retail value. We’re proud to provide a platform to celebrate these high achievers, in both this special Innovators and Influencers issue but also on our website every day and during the Solar Speaks Live interviews at the Unirac booth (2117) during Solar Power International. I’m also inspired by the companies and clever engineers developing innovative technology moving the industry forward. For example, they are creating smarter, more powerful inverters that will better

@SolarKathi e Z @SolarPower Wo rl d

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serve the grid while reducing costs. Brilliant solar minds are creating higher-voltage components to help squeeze more modules into a project, increasing a system’s performance and profits. These people are also bringing more innovative storage options to market. You know, we see a lot of Tesla in news headlines. We should pay attention, yes, but companies such as sonnen, JLM, Sunverge and Simpliphi Power are also making waves. Likewise, we’re seeing a lot of lithium-ion, but creative companies are harnessing the advantages of flow batteries. Still, others are clever enough to find the sweet spot to integrate these chemistries with inverters and software to really pack a punch in solar+storage systems. But what good is it to have technology that doesn’t speak the same language? Kudos to the industry members of SunSpec Alliance who are working outside of their day jobs on specifications to develop a “Bluetooth” for the industry—a common programming language so components can talk to each other. Even on his way out of office, I’m inspired by President Obama’s push for more people to go solar and his support of PACE financing. Right now PACE is geographically limited, but if determined contractors join forces with PACE providers, local governments and banks, they can expand this financing option to more states, carving out more markets for business. The Solar Power World team writes about innovations and the people behind them in every issue because, ultimately, those leading technology developments and industry improvements will only help your business grow. SPW

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Follow the whole team on Twitter @SolarPowerWorld

Technology • Development • Installation

E D I T O R I A L EDITORIAL

S T A F F

DESIGN & PRODUCTION SERVICES

Managing Editor Kathie Zipp kzipp@wtwhmedia.com @SolarKathieZ Associate Editor Steven Bushong sbushong@wtwhmedia.com @Solar2Steven

VP of Creative Services Mark Rook mrook@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_graphics Art Director Matthew Claney mclaney@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_designer

Associate Editor Kelly Pickerel kpickerel@wtwhmedia.com @SolarKellyP

Graphic Designer Allison Washko awashko@wtwhmedia.com

Executive Editor Leland Teschler lteschler@wtwhmedia.com @DW_LeeTeschler

Traffic Manager Mary Heideloff mheideloff@wtwhmedia.com

Editorial Intern - Renewables Emily Wild ewild@wtwhmedia.com

Production Associate Tracy Powers tpowers@wtwhmedia.com

Associate Publisher Courtney Seel cseel@wtwhmedia.com 440.523.1685 @wtwh_CSeel

Director, Audience Development Bruce Sprague bsprague@wtwhmedia.com

VIDEO SERVICES FINANCE Controller Brian Korsberg bkorsberg@wtwhmedia.com

Videographer Manager John Hansel jhansel@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_jhansel

Accounts Receivable Jamila Milton jmilton@wtwhmedia.com

Videographer Alex Barni abarni@wtwhmedia.com

DIGITAL MEDIA / MARKETING Web Development Manager B. David Miyares dmiyares@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_webdave Digital Media Manager Patrick Curran pcurran@wtwhmedia.com @wtwhseopatrick Senior Web Developer Patrick Amigo pamigo@wtwhmedia.com @amigo_patrick Web Production Associate Skylar Aubuchon saubuchon@wtwhmedia.com Web Production & Reporting Associate Jennifer Calhoon jcalhoon@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_jennifer

Manager Webinars Stacy Combest scombest@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_stacy Marketing Manager, Social Media & Events Jen Kolasky jkolasky@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_jen Marketing Coordinator Lexi Korsok lkorsok@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_lexi Marketing Coordinator Josh Breuler jbreuler@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_JoshB

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CONTENTS

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ON THE COVER ON THE COVER Vegetation control on large ground-mount solar installations is often an overlooked cost. Using animals to keep these O&M costs low may not be such a wild idea after all. Photo courtesy of CPS Energy.

4 FIRST WORD 25 NEWS BRIEFS 26 INSTALLATION PRACTICES

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36 PANEL POINTS

First Solar’s new Series 5 module is larger and more powerful than most traditional cSi panels.

SPECIAL SECTIONS: 10 INVERTERS AND STORAGE: As inverters and storage systems become more intertwined, we take a look at the latest trends of two of the “smartest” components in the solar industry. We also see how the SunSpec Alliance is developing standards to accelerate the solar+storage market.

40 MOUNTING

Technology advances—like dynamic stabilization­—will lead to a transformation in the tracking market.

46 SERVICES

Four-legged friends find employment in O&M, and tracking the weather to make production estimates.

62 FACES OF INNOVATION:

56 SOFTWARE

32 BRIAN D. ROBERTSON AWARD RECIPIENT 80 CONTRACTORS CORNER 82 SOLAR SNAPSHOT 84 AD INDEX

SOLAR POWER WORLD

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Analysis shows panels mounted away from the equator make more economic sense than you may think.

We honor nine of the brightest minds in solar, those rarely celebrated in the public eye. These innovators and influencers are working inside the industry today so solar can live up to its promise of powering the world with clean, renewable energy tomorrow.

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

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Solar evangelists put their faith in us Ed Begley Jr. is building “the Greenest Home in America.” So when it came time for the actor, author and eco-activist to pick out solar panels, he went with the company he could trust for quality and efficiency. Panasonic. Like Mr. Begley, we’ve been on the forefront of the solar revolution, researching and developing better energy solutions for the last 40 years. We introduced high-efficiency panels to the world back in 1997, setting the industry standard for conversion efficiency. Today, our solar panel HIT® absorbs and retains more sunlight and produces up to 36% more electricity than conventional panels. Our unique cell structure even performs at high levels during peak summer months when other panels fizzle out. And our 15-year workmanship and 25-year output warranties mean all solar converts will enjoy safe, worry-free operation for decades to come.

When picking a solar company for my new LEED Platinum home in L.A., it quickly became clear there was only one choice ... I put my faith in the company that I’ve been buying quality products from for over thirty years: Panasonic. Ed Begley, Jr. Actor, Author & Solar Evangelist

Go with the solar power that Eco-leaders rely on and put your faith in a powerful future. Learn more about Panasonic HIT® at business.panasonic.com/solarpanels

Visit us at SPI 2016 – Booth #2317!

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at GTM Research, unveils the solar+storage white paper “Smart Solar: Integration of Storage and Energy Management” from the ees stage at Intersolar North America. Credit: Solar Promotion International GmbH (July 2016)

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ARE YOU ready to take advantage of the soaring

solar +storage market?

Last

year was the biggest ever for U.S. energy storage. GTM Research reported the U.S. solar+storage market grew 131% in 2015. It will be known as the year storage really took off. The number of states working on energy storage policies have doubled in just one year. This market is only expected to grow, as it approaches the 1-GW mark in the next five years, becoming a $6 billion industry annually. About 27,000 solar and storage-specific jobs are also reported to come online in that time, according to The Solar Foundation. There are plenty of innovative manufacturers gearing up to get their slice of the pie, and solar contractors should too. There’s plenty of opportunity to make solar+storage projects a part of your business. Most of the market growth has been in the utility segment, with more utilities considering storage to meet reliability and capacity needs. The residential market sees opportunities in energy storage with electricalvehicle charging and home energy management. The commercial market is the fastest growing solar+storage segment—mainly due to the ability to shave peak demand charges. Commercial customers with low load factors in need of reliability, like restaurants and hospitals, are likely to increasingly be prime targets for storage. The GTM report “The Economics of Commercial Energy Storage in the U.S.” and a whitepaper sponsored by Intersolar and CALSEIA shed more light on the market.

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Hawaii and New York will continue to be major storage markets because of their high retail electricity rates. Perhaps surprisingly, commercial energy storage is also working in states throughout the Northeast right now

and will in Michigan and New Mexico in the near future. However, even where economics make sense, barriers such as interconnection policies, safety and fire codes and AHJ requirements still stand as challenges to storage.

GTM expects behind-the-meter solar+storage to account for more than 50% of the U.S. market starting in 2017. Now is a perfect time to get involved with energy storage for your solar installation business. SPW

Chart credit: GTM Research

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

Three global affecting the U.S. The outlook for the brains of the solar system—inverters—remains bright. But as with any high-functioning brain, constant innovation and learning is critical. During a session on solar inverters at the Intersolar NA show in San Francisco, Calif., Cormac Gilligan, manager of PV inverters and BOS research at IHS Markit presented several trends he sees in the global market that are affecting the United States.

to grow greatly toward the second half of the year, when most inverter manufacturers are planning to launch new products. IHS forecasts that the 1,500-V market will account for over 75% of three-phase inverter shipments in the United States in 2020.

1. Price pressure continues Challenges remain for inverter manufacturers. Chief among them is price pressure. Gilligan, who studies global PV shipments, sees a lot of price pressure on inverter manufacturers right now, especially non-Asian companies. But suppliers are doing their best to respond with consistent equipment cost reductions. He expects shipments to remain flat in 2016, but prices to decrease. Gilligan expects increased global PV inverter shipments to reach 100 GW by 2020, which will help suppliers survive today’s price pressure. Utility-scale (5 MW and up) will remain the dominant installation type into 2020. Commercial solar is gradually gaining traction. This progression emulates other markets. IHS expects the U.S. to account for 30% of global inverter revenues in 2016.

2. 1,500-V in demand The effort to reduce installed cost by all facets of the industry will increase demand for 1,500-V components. Gilligan noted that the 1,500-V market really took off in 2015, with GE leading the way. This year, he expects the market 14

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3. Three-phase string and central inverters get bigger Manufacturers are taking what they’ve learned in the wind industry and applying it to solar. Three-phase string inverters (60 kW and up) and central inverters (1.5 MW and up) are increasing in power. In fact, string inverters are approaching the power www.solarpowerworldonline.com

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classes of early small central inverters. However, the difference is that even with this power, string inverters have a lighter weight. Gilligan said a huge growth in the use of string inverters in utility projects is expected by 2020. Even with more three-phase, low power string inverters being used in larger projects, IHS research expects that central inverters aren’t going anywhere soon and will still account for more than half of shipments in 2016. Gilligan also expects module-level power electronics to gain more traction. SPW

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

Developing the Bluetooth of

Industry workgroups are developing interoperability standards to accelerate the growth of solar+storage projects.

Adding storage to projects could

would love to get their standards made “official” by these bodies in the long run, having “unofficial” communication standards will allow the solar+storage industry to move along in the meantime. “Our goal is to move very fast because international standards more very slow,” Tim (TJ) Keating, director of development at SunSpec Alliance, said. “We want to get specifications out so the ecosystem can grow and move on. Over time our specs will get picked up by

really help the solar market take off. But how can contractors know if the brand of batteries they’ve chosen will operate correctly with their choice of inverters? Thanks to the SunSpec Alliance, it’s becoming as easy as looking for a sticker. The SunSpec Alliance is a trade alliance of more than 70 solar and storage industry participants. SunSpec develops and publishes free, open interoperability specifications (also called models) that software developers and hardware manufacturers can use to ensure all their solutions can talk to each other. Since 2012, SunSpec has certified more than 25 companies. So contractors will know components with SunSpec marks can communicate. This takes the guesswork out of a project and makes it easier and cheaper to build projects, therefore accelerating the deployment of solar+storage projects. Developing standards to ensure project components can all talk through an agreed upon language is kind of like what’s been done with Bluetooth. You can be confident that any headsets or other device with the Bluetooth logo will connect and communicate, no matter what the brand. Establishing the communication requirements for Bluetooth made it easy for manufacturers to know what language their products should “speak,” which has lead them to create many affordable options for consumers, and helped accelerate this area of the electronics 16

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market. SunSpec’s goal is to create and enact this same kind of common language that applies across the board in the residential, commercial and utility solar and solar+storage markets. SunSpec has seen it necessary to step in because if it were up to larger international standardizing bodies, such as IEEE and IEC, to determine standards it would take a long time, thus hindering the growth of the solar industry. Although SunSpec and other working groups

SunSpec publishes free, open interoperability specifications that software developers and hardware manufacturers can use to ensure plug-and-play interoperability between DER components and smart grid applications

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

other organizations and help form longterm standards.”

How it works

Solar for every roof.

SunSpec membership includes a fee and is open to developers, non-profits, service providers and manufacturers on a company or individual level—so contractors are welcome to join. Members of the alliance introduce ideas for specifications based on where they see industry need and then use workgroups to focus on development. This work can take a year or more. Once the specification is in “draft” stage, it’s announced to the industry and open for feedback and ready to be tested in real projects—another chance for contractors to contribute whether a member or not. SunSpec workgroups then use this information to refine the draft and eventually release an updated version. SunSpec specifications are open licensing models, which means that other entities can adopt and work from them. SunSpec also collaborates with some of these parties, including other workgroups and national labs. It’s a global organization, with international members that implement the standards relevant to different regions.

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Projects like this 2-MW/ 1-MWh energy storage system in Everett, Washington help test SunSpec specifications and provide feedback to refine future versions. The project was built in 2015 and is owned and operated by local utility Snohomish PUD. It includes two inverters and two lithium-ion batteries.

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Spec success stories SunSpec has developed specifications for components especially crucial to solar+storage projects—standards for meters, inverters and batteries collectively known as SunSpec’s Energy Storage Device models. “In solar+storage projects, the inverter is almost as important as the battery,” said Keating. “The inverter does the power conversion, so if the grid needs support, high-level commands SunSpec specifications for energy storage relate to the inverter, meter and batteries. These align with international standards. Other working groups like MESA have also built on these standards. solar-ad-final-press.pdf

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

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go to inverter, which can take power from the solar array or batteries. This is why sometimes the inverter control is even more important than the battery control.” Therefore, SunSpec focused its first standards around communicating with the inverter. building on the industry accepted communication “language” Modbus. SunSpec also recently released a specification for rapid shutdown. “Different companies have developed different rapid shutdown strategies, which is OK but bad for interoperability,” Keating said. “It’s hard for the installer to know what equipment works with what.” SunSpec developed a rapid shutdown signaling specification to allow equipment from different vendors— whether chip companies like TI or inverter manufacturers—to talk to each other to shut off. This spec is currently in the draft phase and is open to the industry for feedback and testing. After its success in inverters, SunSpec turned to developing a communication specification for batteries. In 2014, SunSpec used input from battery manufacturers to develop a standard for lithium-ion chemistries released to the industry in what was called Draft 3. After gathering feedback and data from 20

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Type 947D

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SPECIAL SECTION INVERTERS / STORAGE

test projects in 2015, this year SunSpec released an updated draft, known as Draft 4, which provides more guidance for lithium-ion batteries and additional recommendations for flow batteries. Projects incorporating these standards on flow batteries will deploy later this year.

Coming from both sides While SunSpec was focused on behindthe-meter storage specifications, a separate workgroup—the MESA Standards Alliance—formed to lead the interoperability effort from the utility side. Darcy Wheeles, program director of the MESA Standards Alliance, said the group formed in 2012 out of a

Inverters Special Section 8-16_Vs3.indd 22

need to standardize how utilities could communicate with storage projects in front of the meter. “There are international standards that address utility communication, but none of them had been expanded to accommodate storage and the breadth of grid services that these devices can provide,” she said. “Utilities were looking at having to spend a lot of time and money on software and engineering to get storage projects to talk to their systems. When we realized international standards organizations couldn’t develop these standards in a time frame that met utility needs, MESA was founded to jump-start the effort.”

As MESA was searching for ways to get started on these communication issues, it discovered the work SunSpec had done from behind the meter and worked with SunSpec to develop the Modbus communication protocols for the components of an energy storage system. MESA then began developing its own specifications, known as MESA-ESS, for a common communication language between in front of the meter storage systems and existing utility control systems. Most utilities use SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) to remotely monitor and control all assets on their distribution system including distributed energy projects like solar and storage.

8/30/16 2:24 PM


As part of the U.S. Department of Energy Sunshot Initiative’s Orange Button program, SunSpec’s open oSDX system will make it easier to disclose and share data between solar asset lifecycle software for operations efficiency and financial gain, while still protecting it.

Just as SunSpec is basing its specifications off Modbus, MESA is basing itsoff off the equivalent standard communication language, or protocol, on the utility side—DNP3. “The idea is to make storage just another utility resource that can integrate into their existing systems,” Wheeles said. So like SunSpec, MESA is looking at this language to find out what needs to be done to accommodate storage. “MESA coming from the utility side was a great win for SunSpec because it brought all our work into the utility space,” said Keating. “We overlap at different points,” Wheeles said. “That’s going to create more robust opportunities for solar to be paired with storage, whether it’s behind the meter or on a larger scale.”

What’s next? Keating expects more drafts of existing specifications to be released in time, each more refined than the last. On the storage side, members have proposed working on specifications for lead-acid and flywheel technologies. Major topics in the inverter working group include Rule 21 and UL 1741 compliance. The alliance also received funding as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative’s Orange Button

The idea is to make storage just another utility resource that can integrate into their existing systems. program. SunSpec will create standards that make it easier for the industry to aggregate and share data to help make soft costs related to financing, design, feasibility and operations more efficient and less expensive. Like all SunSpec work, the entire industry (including contractors) is open to contribute. Wheeles encourages the solar industry to keep innovating. “We want technology suppliers and installers to focus on their core competencies and create really innovative products and projects without having to worry about how these things are actually going to communicate with each other,” she said. “It’s like when you buy a Bluetooth headset; you know it’s going to pair with your phone because all the manufacturers have agreed on a common language. But it doesn’t stop companies from innovating great products. We are working on the Bluetooth of energy storage.” SPW

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[NEWS BRIEFS]

Solar around the U.S.

5

A guide to recent projects, legislation and research throughout the country

6

The American Solar Challenge, a collegiate competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country race, determines its winner by the shortest overall time to drive the 1,975 miles on solar power. The secret to winning? Reliability. “You can’t win this race if your car is broken down on the side of the road,” said one University of Iowa team member before the race began in Ohio. The finish line was in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

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The cockpit of a threewheeled solar-powered car, designed by students from the University of Missouri, for the American Solar Challenge.

Policy activity buzzing Raleigh, North Carolina

3

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center released its second-quarter “The 50 States of Solar” report, which tracked policy activity in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. Two highlights: Twenty-four states considered or enacted changes to NEM policies, and 11 states worked on community solar policies.

2

Upending economics New York, New York Utility rate design changes are upending the economics of solar in some parts of the country, The New York Times reported. “Even as policy makers at the federal and state levels promote clean energy to fight global warming, the economics of electricity can often be at odds with those goals,” reporter Diane Cardwell wrote.

More middle-class solar Washington, D.C.

Taking flight Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona The Solar Impulse 2, which just completed its around-the-world flight, has some competition. Facebook’s solar-powered drone, Aquila, made its maiden flight after years of development. The aircraft remained in flight for 90 minutes. Facebook hopes to keep it in the sky for three months sometime soon. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 but is expected to consume the energy of just a single microwave.

News in Brief_8-16_Vs3SB.indd 25

Mandalay Bay expands array Las Vegas, Nevada NRG Energy and MGM Resorts International announced the completed expansion of the nation’s largest rooftop solar array. On the roof of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the expanded solar array has more than 26,000 PV panels and produces a combined 8.3 MWdc of electricity, a new national record for rooftop arrays.

The Obama administration announced the “Clean Energy for All Americans Initiative,” a major push to put more solar energy on houses owned by low- and medium-income families. The initiative also aims to change key policies to make solar financing more readily available to the same demographic.

4

Health and economics San Francisco, California Geostellar announced at Intersolar North America the launch of Solar.Clinic, a program for healthcare systems to go solar and offer solar energy to their employees, patients and community members. The program is designed to boost economic development in the communities served by the health systems.

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Solar speedsters Brecksville, Ohio

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Lone star state going big Austin, Texas Kicking off the year with record growth across all solar sectors, Texas is on track to become the fastest-growing utility-scale U.S. solar market within the next five years, according to GTM Research and SEIA. Of the 4,600 MW projected to come online in Texas by 2020, 4,000 MW will be utility-scale.

9

Hitting the cap San Diego, California San Diego beat larger metro areas including San Francisco and Los Angeles to become the first city in California to reach the solar net energy metering cap in its utility’s region. Solar in San Diego has become a $1 billion a year industry, and the city is the first to commit to being completely powered by renewable energy by the year 2035.

9 • 2016

SOLAR POWER WORLD  

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[INSTALLATION PRACTICES]

Three steps to protect a solar farm from lightning strikes

Edited by Steven Bushong, associate editor, Solar Power World

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Installation Practices_8-16_Vs2kp.indd 26

Solar farms are just big fields covered with conductive material. They’re almost asking for a lightning strike, which can damage or destroy solar panels, inverters and other critical equipment. It’s no surprise that lightning activity and surge-related over-voltage abnormalities are identified as leading causes of solar project downtime. Lightning can be destructive even when it’s not a direct hit. Indirect lightning events generate an electromagnetic force that induces overvoltage and transients on AC and DC power conductors and data lines. The good news is solar owners and developers can protect their investment from the fallout of lightning strikes. Engineers at Alltec, a global manufacturer and installer of grounding and other lightning protection technologies, have identified methods to bolster a project’s ability to withstand lightning-related hazards using a three-step process called the Alltec Protection Pyramid. While there is typically no code requirement for solar farm owners to install lightning protection, there are internationally recognized standards and methods to determine the requirement of lightning protection systems, and it’s a bright idea to take action. The pyramid (described below) provides guidance. 9 • 2016

Step 1: Grounding system design and analysis Comprehensive soil resistivity measurement is the first step in designing a solar grounding system. Soil resistivity measures how much soil resists the flow of electricity. A proper test will use the Wenner four-point method, which corresponds to IEEE Std. 81. The Wenner test uses four probes spaced at equal distances to measure how much electricity is conducted between them through the soil. The distance between the test probes results in soil resistivity data at the equivalent depth. It is considered to be the most reliable soil resistivity test. After obtaining a thorough understanding of how soil conducts electricity and obtaining multilayer soil resistivity test results, specialized grounding software can help model the best grounding system for an array. By using a computer model, designers can complete a comprehensive fault analysis. Safety step and touch voltage evaluation can also be performed for the entire project, including solar panels, inverter and transformer stations and the perimeter fence layout.

Step 2: Surge protection system It is crucial to install both AC and DC surge protection devices at key points throughout a solar site to protect panel module circuits, inverter stations and critical control circuits at

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[INSTALLATION PRACTICES]

the combining switchgear box. It is recommended that a comprehensive network of quality surge protection devices be installed throughout the solar farm’s AC and DC power distribution to protect critical circuits against hardware damage and from operational disruptions resulting from lightning and non-lightning related transients. Although lightning-generated transients are by far the most intense surge events, surges originating elsewhere can be at high voltage levels as well. For example, lightning-induced surges initiated by direct lightning strikes can produce momentary voltages up to 75 kV at their point of impact. Indirectly coupled surge impulses originating from nearby lightning activity, on the other hand, generate voltage bursts up to 25 kV.

Backwoods Solar 28

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9 • 2016

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8/30/16 10:00 AM


匀洀愀爀琀倀漀眀攀爀 匀琀愀挀欀∡

唀䰀㔀 㠀挀 爀攀挀漀最渀椀稀攀搀

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8/30/16 9:21 AM


[INSTALLATION PRACTICES]

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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 780) and International ElectroTechnical Commission (IEC-62305) standards suggest solar developers take stock of lightning risk to establish a baseline for lightning protection systems. In other words, it’s the developer or owner’s responsibility to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and decide what type of lightning protection should be added to an array. The level of risk can be ascertained by comparing the probability of direct lightning strike to the solar farm and the facility’s risk parameters. After human safety, the risk associated with loss of power production (continuity of service) should be the first concern in determining the need for an effective lightning protection system. Regardless of risk, it’s unfortunately true that external lightning protection system design and installation is not a common practice for solar farms, large or small. Lightning protection of ground-mount solar arrays by traditional Franklin rod systems is still subject to concerns regarding effectiveness, shadow effects, installation cost and appearance. As an alternative to the traditional Franklin rod system, early streamer emitter (ESE) type lightning air terminals can protect a solar farm. The TerraStreamer ESE terminal provides large protection zones as per National French standard NF C 17-102. TerraStreamer ESE terminals can be installed on independent masts with radial lightning protection ground systems with single-point reference to the electrical grid. This configuration provides necessary protection zones, effectively dissipating lightning energy to the ground and helps to insulate the solar panels and inverter stations from damage. The other benefit of this system is that there will likely be significantly lower cost of labor and material to install the entire system as compared to a traditional Franklin rod system. SPW 30

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9 • 2016

8/30/16 10:00 AM


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[BDR AWARD WINNER]

Bringing electric reliability to a Nigerian orphanage

A Georgia contractor’s generosity wins this year’s BDR Fund Award Alternative Energy Southeast of Athens, Georgia, proudly seeks out philanthropic opportunities to benefit underserved communities with installed solar power. The contractor pledges 10% of its earnings toward charitable efforts and is involved with a local installation program called Solarize Athens. Now the company and its president Montana Busch have expanded their charitable nature far beyond Georgia and into Africa, after recently completing a solar project for a Nigerian orphanage. The group’s generosity led it to be chosen as the winner of The Solar Foundation’s 2016 Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund (BDR Fund) Award. Shepherd Care Orphanage and Widow Center, established by the non-profit Walking in Love Ministries, serves the underprivileged area of Eku, Delta, in Nigeria. Thirty children live there and an adjacent school provides K-12 education to nearly 200 students. More than 100 local widows also receive assistance on site. 32

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9 • 2016

Electricity from the country’s utility is unreliable and is often restricted for days at a time. The necessities to support so many local children and widows—refrigeration for food, power for a water pump, lighting at night—have been difficult to depend on in Eku. Busch first visited the small Southern Nigerian town in 2014 to assess the situation and see if solar backup power could be feasible. With the help of funds raised by New Covenant Worship Center of Athens, Georgia, Busch and Alternative Energy Southeast were finally able to provide a 16-kW solar system with 144 kWh of battery storage to the orphanage in January 2016. “Once we saw how happy and truly grateful the orphans and old widowed grandmothers were, we really felt a sense of empathy,” Busch said. “We gave these people power in a part of the world where the power only comes on for a few hours each day, if even at all. The academy on site now has access to the internet. It really allows the children to have a shot at a rewarding life.” Installation was fairly straight forward, except for the everpresent Nigerian security guards with their rifles. “We had to have mercenaries follow us around with assault rifles for protection 24/7 because this is a povertystricken, very dangerous part of the world,” Busch said.

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 10:04 AM


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[BDR AWARD WINNER] Because of difficult documentation and Customs processes, Alternative Energy Southeast chose to work through a Nigerian solar installation company—Valentine Agency owned by Monday Aigbogun—to secure materials rather than ship in equipment. “It’s good to have a local contact who has the knowhow to maintain the system when necessary,” Busch said. “It was struck by lightning shortly after we left, which fried one of the inverters. Monday’s crew was able to get a free warranty replacement of the inverter.” The project was such a success and so appreciated throughout the Eku community that Busch is looking to bring more solar to the town’s new hospital sometime in the future. “We must help each other, especially those who are less fortunate than us,” Busch said. “Giving back is on my Top 5 list of most important practices to become successful. I wish that wasn’t so hard for some people.” Alternative Energy Southeast will receive the BDR Fund Award and be recognized at the Solar Power World 2016 Top Solar Contractors gala this September. SPW UFO_SolarPowerWorld_HalfPg_Ad_Final_SWOP2006.pdf 1 6/15/2016 4:57:13 PM

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8/30/16 9:43 AM


KELLY PICKEREL

PANEL POINTS

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

With larger module, FIRST SOLAR aims to compete with traditional crystalline

Graphic courtesy of Allison Washko

Thin-film master First Solar plans to release a new set of solar modules next year much larger—in output and area— than both its standard CdTe model and traditional 60- and 72-cell c-Si panels. What does this mean for installers? We try to answer the basics on First Solar’s new Series 5 modules.

What’s different about the new module? First, let’s backtrack and explore what First Solar already offers. The company’s popular Series 4 module has a frameless, glass-on-glass structure and is small in stature at 600 mm x

(Trina’s 60-cell is rated at 265 W and the 72-cell is 320 W). First Solar thinfilm modules are commonly used on large utility-scale solar projects, and the Series 4 module is often positioned horizontally and stacked three- or four-high on ground-mounts. The new Series 5 module can first be imagined as three Series 4 modules connected together in the arrangement frequently seen out in the field, but it’s not that simple. “[Series 4] is actually a separate and discrete device,” said Steve Krum, director of corporate communications for First Solar. “Three modules are

The Series 5 module (now at 1,200 mm x 1,860 mm and rated at 365 W) is not too different on the surface to what utility-scale contractors are already out in the field installing, except it comes “pre-assembled” in a more standardized format.

How will installation change? For those working on projects with high labor and BOS costs, Krum said the Series 5 module will save time and money. No mounting clips are needed; neither is additional wiring harnessing. “Series 5 features an integrated twin rail structure that allows for installation to a mounting table or tracker with four bolts, which improves installation velocity,” Krum said. “Series 5 can be installed by two-person crews manually or a single installer and crane/lift operator.” This larger module design, which is more akin to traditional c-Si panels, allows the Series 5 to be mounted on

Series 5 can be installed by two-person crews manually or a single installer and crane/lift operator. 1,200 mm (a traditional 60-cell c-Si module from Trina Solar is about 990 mm x 1,650 mm, while a 72-cell Trina module is 990 mm x 1,950 mm). The Series 4 module is rated at about 105 W 36

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9 • 2016

adhered to twin metal rails, eliminating the need for mounting clips, and connected with a simplified wiring harness that combines the output from each module into a single feeder.” www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 3:51 PM


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PANEL POINTS

MORE FLEXIBILITY. EASE OF INSTALLATION

third-party mounting structures, thus producing more opportunities for developers to find the cheapest and best vendors to reduce BOS costs. And for installers interested in using thin-film on projects but deterred by the non-traditional size and attachment of the Series 4 modules, the Series 5 module opens up a new customer base more aligned to c-Si. For installers already familiar with stacking Series 4 modules three-high, Series 5 module installation should be much easier with condensed wiring and mounting.

When will we see the module?

Sun Action Trackers’ Self-aligned Bearing offers flexibility with ease of installation. Designed to require no greasing, this bearing has zero scheduled maintenance. The inner spherical form (highlighted in blue) allows for flexibility of ±4° to self-align for any type of tolerance. The Self-aligned Bearing is compatible with Sun Action Trackers’ Single Axis Tracking systems.

First Solar first introduced the module to the European market at Intersolar Europe in Munich this June to a warm response. Series 5 modules will be on display at Solar Power International, mounted to a number of third-party racks. Manufacturing plants in Ohio and Malaysia will be converted to add the rail assembly to some production lines with additional lines added based on market demand. The company expects to begin shipping the new modules in late 2017 after fine-tuning more reduction of BOS costs.

What else is First Solar working on? Already planning past Series 5, First Solar is developing a Series 6 line. Essentially a Series 5 module without the three separate panels, the Series 6 module will be one continuous laminate, about the same size as Series 5 but rated at more than 400 W. Because of the larger, one-sheet size, these panels may need custom mounts, but all of this is still under development. Look for a potential 2019 launch. SPW

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Panel Points_8-16_Vs2kp.indd 38

SOLAR POWER WORLD

9 • 2016

8/30/16 10:15 AM


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MOUNTING

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT, SUNLINK

FUTURE TRACKERS: How innovation will influence tracker technology Every solar project presents an opportunity to solve challenges, mitigate risk and improve performance by choosing the right technology for the job. Though many in the industry argue in favor of one universally “best” solution for modules, inverters and mounting systems, the optimal technology often depends on project-specific goals and site conditions. Mounting system design in particular is sensitive to module type, string size, location, environment and geotech. Trackers are an excellent choice for a wide range of projects. Below we detail the benefits and drawbacks of centralizedand distributed-drive solar trackers today, and then we discuss how innovation will change tracker technology tomorrow.

TODAY’S TRACKERS The two tracker concepts dominating the market today use either distributed or centralized drives to move panels. While gigawatts of trackers have been installed successfully, history teaches us that it is necessary to continually assess the best technology for the application at hand and to constantly innovate to improve the options.

Centralized and Distributed These illustrations from SunLink represent the two primary types of solar tracker architecture: centralized- and distributed-drive.

Centralized Centralized trackers, also known as ganged or linkedrow trackers, move many rows of solar panels with a single drive. Single-axis east-west tracking is popular today because of the cost-effectiveness and reliability pioneered by linked-row trackers. Linked-row trackers move hundreds of modules with a single set of drive components, making it possible to use high quality, off-the-shelf components for the programmable logic controller (PLC), motor and actuator. The benefits of standard drive components are obvious. First, manufacturers have had decades to refine the engineering and application of their products in harsh environments. The components are robust by design. Second, should there be a problem, parts and service technicians are available anywhere in the world. Centralized trackers also tend to achieve the best land utilization in utility-scale sites that have regular borders, but have limitations when it comes to achieving density on sites with irregular borders.

Centralized trackers, also known as ganged or linked row trackers, move many rows of solar panels with a single drive.

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Distributed trackers are selfsufficient, without a need for auxiliary power and communication wiring.

plant of a given capacity, a distributed tracker will have tens or hundreds more drives (or independent units) than a centralized tracker. As solar scales, we are seeing growing interest in developing solar on sites once considered too challenging, such as sites with irregular boundaries, 5 to 10% slope or rolling terrain, obstructions or unfavorable geotechnical conditions. When it comes to sites of this nature, distributed arrays yield better land utilization than centralized arrays. Furthermore, irregular sites are often on the smaller end of the utility-scale range (1 to 20 MW) and can be efficiently constructed by pairing distributed trackers with string inverters. When it comes to efficiency, distributed trackers have the advantage of being selfsufficient, without a need for auxiliary power and communication wiring. Eliminating this wiring and the associated interfaces and customization reduces project engineering time and enables projects to be designed and delivered faster. Furthermore, layout changes are simpler to manage because each tracker is an independent unit. With a centralized tracker, modifying one row can have a ripple effect through the entire tracker.

Combined with fixed-tilt systems Distributed

Figure 1: The number of monitoring points rises dramatically in a distributed architecture.

Continued pressure on performance combined with increased volume and the rapidly declining cost of electronics inspired the introduction of distributed trackers. The concept of distributed systems is familiar to many products and industries. Within solar, there are micro, string and centralized inverters, which respectively are often used on residential, commercial and utility-scale PV. The modular nature of distributed design offers several important advantages when it comes to site flexibility and efficiency. Distributed trackers move a single row or table of panels with each drive. For a solar PV

Number of Monitoring Points per 100MWp DC, Logarithmic Scale

The specific energy gain trackers offer over fixed tilt is significant, but sometimes a project site can’t support 100% trackers. When it comes to enabling solar projects on challenging sites, developers should keep an open mind that the best solution for a job might be a combination of fixed-tilt mounting and trackers. Consider a site where 40% of the site has terrain suitable for a tracker. The rest of the site slopes at 10 to 20% grade. Often developers choose to discount the 60% of the site that is sloped or abandon the site altogether. A better alternative would be to move forward with the tracker as planned on 40% of the site and install fixed tilt on the remaining 60%. When fixed costs are high and space is constrained, the greater energy density system improves project economics.

TOMORROW’S TRACKERS It’s clear that distributed-drive solar trackers are being installed more often, especially as perfectly square development spaces become fewer. However, though failures are low impact, the troubling reality is that there are 10 times as many failures given the sheer number of components. Companies like SunLink are working to develop high-tech systems for more advanced tracker monitoring and dynamic product design, which will help manufacturers develop better, smarter systems and reduce O&M costs now. 42

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Actionable information Currently, monitoring distributed trackers with legacy DAS systems is a staggering challenge. As shown in Figure 1, distributed systems have three or four orders of magnitude more monitoring points than centralized systems. While a centralized tracker will have as few as 80 drives per 100 MW capacity, a distributed tracker will have more than 3,000. The same math applies to centralized, string and microinverters. In a distributed system, a simple visual inspection is a significant undertaking. Even if the system can be monitored remotely, picking through thousands of data entries to find where there are problems isn’t practical. Knowing that the thousands of parts of an electromechanical system will fail at a certain rate, and in a time period often far shorter than the useful

Fixed-tilt systems still offer advantages when it comes to enabling projects on challenging sites, like this landfill in Massachusetts.

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Dynamic design Dynamic design in mounting systems will enable further advances. As an example, SunLink is pioneering dynamic stabilization—a method for changing the characteristics of the tracker depending on real-time, sensor-observed environmental conditions. Beyond simply adjusting tilt, SunLink’s TechTrack Distributed

incorporates control over the damping and stiffness of the array, opening a completely new solution space for increasing energy output, maintaining structural integrity and lowering cost. All of these improvements are made possible by integrating intelligent, connected software with plant hardware. Ultimately, better data enables an innovation feedback loop that will improve mounting systems, solar plant design and project economics.

Enabling more solar Without question, scaling the solar industry depends on creating lasting financial returns. While the debate surrounding distributed and centralized architecture shows no signs of quieting, selecting technology to solve site-specific challenges creates the best outcomes. Going forward, increasingly dynamic, connected systems will make solar plants more valuable assets. SPW

Each technology has its place Fixed-tilt mounting • High latitudes, where tilting panels south (or north) is a more effective way to capture the sun • Low component of direct irradiance, e.g. Germany, China • High snow zones • Poor geotechnical conditions • Slope >10% • Priority for zero maintenance Centralized-drive trackers • Utility-scale tracking • Priority for low maintenance for 25 years and beyond • International or anywhere where off-the-shelf, internationally serviceable parts are a priority • Extreme cold: hard-wired power connections instead of batteries; fewer electronics to maintain, keep heated

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Distributed-drive trackers • Where engineering and equipment efficiencies are top priority • Sites with irregular boundaries or obstructions • 5 to 10% slope or rolling terrain • String inverters  

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life of a utility-scale generating station, SunLink set out to introduce a smarter way to collect and visualize data and transform it into insightful, actionable information. While many current data systems dutifully collect vast quantities of data, making that data easy to access and understand has eluded the industry, SunLink’s VERTEX takes a novel approach by triaging problems and suggesting the most efficient way to resolve them, making long term O&M of distributed generation more efficient and far less costly.

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SERVICES

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Don’t eat your O&M COSTS— leave it to those with four legs Vegetation control on large ground-mount solar installations is often an overlooked cost. In the grand scheme of things, that $25,000 a year to send out lawn mowers and weed whackers on a multi-megawatt project isn’t the highest ticket item to worry about lowering. But what if you could reduce vegetation control costs by 50% or more? Wouldn’t it be worth checking out? Enter the rising trend of using animals to control grass and weed growth. Goats and sheep seem to be the most popular choices, but even emus are used on Japanese solar farms. While animal-driven vegetation control has taken root in Europe and Asia, it’s been slow to catch on in North America. A growing number of local success stories shows that could be changing.

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Using animals to keep vegetation control costs low may not be such a wild idea after all. OCI Solar Power hosts sheep on one of its Texas projects, as does KDC Solar on some of its New Jersey projects. NextEra Energy has enlisted the help of about 50 sheep on a 25-acre section of one of its Florida solar projects and said results are promising. New venture Goat Grazers Ontario has been working on debunking goats-eat-everythingeven-wires myths and has bred a special goat that has found speedy success on Canadian solar farms. It seems like it’s finally time in North America to pay attention to the benefits of using four-legged greenery eating machines instead of diesel-guzzling hunks of metal to control vegetation growth, limit the release of harmful fumes and curb O&M costs.

The case for goats Goat Grazers Ontario started off as a 91-acre goat sanctuary and small-scale vegetation control business before heard manager Tamara Follett realized the surrounding area near Kingston, Ontario, was ripe with solar farms that needed help controlling weeds. After one successful solar farm client, Goat Grazers Ontario started a “designer” breeding program to raise goats perfectly suited to eat around solar farms. The group starts with Nigerian Dwarfs—historically from flat lands so they don’t have the climbing instinct of common Alpine goats (from mountainous areas), but they lack the cold tolerance

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Infineon’s new family of 3-Level Inverter modules offers significant advantages for designing highly efficient UPS and solar inverters.

Infineon’s new family of 3-Level Inverter modules offers significant advantages for designing highly efficient UPS and The three level inverter proves to be an attractive candidate for a power range up to 125 kW which requires high solar inverters. switching frequencies, complex filtering and high efficiency like double conversion UPS, solar inverters and High Speed Drives.

The three level inverter proves to be an attractive candidate for a power range up to 125 kW which requires high switching 30frequencies, A-400 A/650 Vcomplex modules filtering and high efficiency like double conversion UPS, solar inverters and High

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The degree of efficiency for the two 3-level topologies, NPC1 and NPC2, has to be evaluated depending on the › NPC1 topology for high switching frequencies (approx. fsw≥12 kHz) switching frequency. topology for low and medium switching frequencies (approx. fsw≤12 kHz); › NPC2www.infineon.com/highpower NPC2 topology with SiC Schottky diodes also for high switching frequencies › NPC1 topology for high switching frequencies (approx. fsw≥12 kHz) Infineon 9-16.indd reworked for Infineon 7 bleed proof.indd 1

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SERVICES needed for Canadian winters. When paired with Spanish Cashmere breeds (which have cold tolerance and are tough), these new, smaller goats fit

sized goat, but they have short legs.” Goats have large stomachs, divided into four chambers, so they feel the need to eat constantly. And Follett

It’s an old wives’ tale that goats will eat anything they can find... They don’t chew on wires, they don’t chew on paper, they don’t eat tin cans. They’re driven to eat all the time, and if it doesn’t taste good, then they won’t eat it. perfectly under solar panels, don’t jump and can survive cooler temperatures. “We decided to focus on what we’re calling solar goats,” Follett said. “We want a short statured animal with a very big stomach. They look like a normal

said the goats on the solar farms have been eating everything—grass, weeds, poison ivy, maple and more. “The goats prefer the weeds and will eat the weeds first,” she said. “Some of the fast growing brush that we have in

Ontario is poplar, Manitoba maple—you can’t kill it. The goats eat it down to a stick, and then the stick dies and doesn’t come back. It’s amazing what they can do. They have cast iron stomachs. “It’s an old wives’ tale that goats will eat anything they can find,” she continued. “They will put anything in their mouths, but they only like green. They’ll spit out everything else. They don’t chew on wires, they don’t chew on paper, they don’t eat tin cans. They’re driven to eat all the time, and if it doesn’t taste good, then they won’t eat it.” Goats are dropped off at the solar farms in the spring and moved around from zone to zone or left alone. Follett said the team first checks in on the goats twice a day to make sure everything is going well then pops by less as they become more familiar with the landscape. Solar farms often already have good protection from predators

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with tall perimeter fences, and the solar panels provide enough shelter from the elements if the goats ever need refuge. In general, weeds need to be eaten down to the ground twice a season, but the goats are picked up once the job is done—they’re not left out on a solar farm year-round. For Goat Grazers Ontario’s first solar project, Follett estimated it would take 40 goats six weeks to clear 17 acres. The goats surprised everyone by finishing the project in just two weeks. “Goats really provide a no-brainer solution to keeping vegetation down, and it’s reasonable,” Follet said. “It’s $20 per goat per week. That’s really inexpensive. We spend more on Starbucks.” Goat Grazers Ontario is actively looking for more solar clients, and Follett expects 300 animals to be “employed” in the next year. The group is fully insured, just in case goats do damage, but that is highly unlikely with this short-statured, non-jumping breed of “solar goats.”

Twenty-six acres was costing $25,000 a season to cut. With a shepherd, it’s $10,000.

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Rob Simalchik, vice president of operations and construction at KDC Solar, had been looking into bringing sheep onto the developer’s large commercial solar arrays for years, but no one seemed to be interested in his mission. “I was unable to find anyone that was interested in providing the sheep,” he said. “I even talked to the sheepherder’s association in New Jersey.” Two years ago, by a stroke of good luck, a shepherd approached KDC Solar, indicating she was willing to give solar farms a try. Simalchik went ahead with it and has been amazed by the results. “We introduced sheep to the smallest ground site we had, to use it as a test base. It’s 16 acres inside the fence,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone any better. The grass was kept at a low height. They got everywhere. It’s one of those win-wins where I am getting rid of the zero-turns, getting rid of the weed whackers, getting rid of those fumes, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide— replacing it with something that is so correct for basically

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a pasture. It really works.” After seeing a 50% reduction in vegetation O&M costs on this test site (a 2.2-MW system in Vineland, New Jersey), Simalchik has expanded to a second site (a 6.1-MW tracking system at Lawrenceville School) and plans for an under-construction solar farm to host 80 sheep during the grazing season. Similar to Ontario’s goats, the sheep used on the KDC Solar projects are brought in around mid-April and then sent back to sheep HQ in October. Shepherd Julie Bishop uses the winter to birth some new recruits and grow the flock. “There’s a little more to [using sheep for vegetation control] than calling a landscaper and having them show up with their lawn mowers,” Simalchik said. “She brings them into the first 16-acre site as very young lambs and leaves a

off process that Simalchik is surprised more solar farm operators are not looking in to. “My guess is that it takes a little more effort. It’s very easy to pick up the phone and call a landscaper,” he said. “I think there aren’t a lot of shepherds interested in it. Once they get involved in it, they see that it is relatively easy to do and they are compensated. It’s a win-win for us and the shepherd.” While not a big-ticket item, vegetation management at solar farms isn’t going to go away, and why not try to save some money? “The Lawrenceville school (26 acres) was costing $25,000 a season to cut. With a shepherd, it’s $10,000,” Simalchik said. “It may not sound like an awful lot, but over the life of the PPA, on that one site, it adds up.” SPW

few older ones there to show them the ropes. She uses that 16-acre site as the nursery. Then she’ll populate the other sites as they get older. There’s thought behind it. You don’t just go throwing sheep into an area. You get them ready to get into that area.” Sheep are used to wide-open pastures, so additional shelters are not necessary on solar farms. KDC Solar did install an electric fence along the perimeter of the existing chain-link fence at one site for added protection from predators like coyotes. The sites also host portable plastic tubs that hold about 250 gallons of water so the sheep stay hydrated. KDC officials and the shepherd can see water levels via security cameras and will visit the sites to fill up the tanks. Otherwise, using sheep for vegetation control is a painless, hands-

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GWEN BENDER

SERVICES

PRODUCT MANAGER FOR SOLAR ASSESSMENT SERVICES AT VAISALA

Vaisala’s Solar Time Series Tool

How solar developers can make more CONFIDENT PRODUCTION ESTIMATES and greater profits Weather is the greatest source of performance variability for solar projects. Unfortunately you can’t look into a crystal ball and be 100% accurate about the weather at a site all the time. Instead, solar developers must focus on reducing their level of uncertainty as much as possible. Predicting the weather (solar irradiance, rain, wind, snow and more) is essential to estimating system production and profits, and it’s increasingly critical that solar developers know how to use available weather data, along with weather measurement equipment when necessary.

More data providers When it comes to reliable data, thinking long-term is key. In the not-so-distant past, options for long-term climate data— looking at weather patterns over years or decades—were limited to those from public sources such as NREL and NASA. 52

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These days, there are multiple highquality, long-term datasets available from additional public and private sources. To increase accuracy, today’s providers often use data from multiple irradiance estimation models. For example, Vaisala compares five different in-house models when assessing solar projects and has recently released an online tool to allow clients to do the same. A subscription to its online Solar Time Series Tool allows developers to view a resource map, see long-term weather trends from the multiple models and download time series data directly from the tool. Services like this help project developers evaluate and access better resource data to determine more accurate energy estimates.

Consider the source! Most providers’ datasets use the same base satellite information but vary in their inputs and methods of www.solarpowerworldonline.com

irradiance calculation. With more options it is increasingly important to understand the dataset version being used—not just the vendor. Just like with software programs, version numbers change as data is improved. Each version will have different outputs and also different levels of model uncertainty associated with each version. Typical meteorological year (TMY) data remains the industry standard, but it is easier than ever to get long-term datasets or more exotic data options. An example would be P90 year file which models the “worst case” production year of your plant in comparison to your “typical” P50 year. The software programs developers use to translate resource data into potential energy production are correspondingly becoming more sophisticated in accepting inputs. Until recently the major platforms could only accept and process a single year of resource data, the expectation being a TMY file. Now you can process multiple years of data at a time or input data from your ground station.

More datasets = more confidence Developers can look at multiple datasets together to become more confident about the accuracy of their resource assessments. If the data sets provide similar estimates, then the developer can be more certain about a particular site’s weather. However, if the datasets are much different from each other, the developer can be less certain about a site.

Compare it with someone else’s work Another way to look at datasets and reduce uncertainty is to compare  

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P A N ESL E PR OV I NC ET S

the data to an independent “truth.” An example would be ground station observations, derived either privately or from nearby public weather stations. This can help developers determine which dataset is showing the best correlations for their project site.

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When to get out the pyranometer All models have some degree of uncertainty. Again, no one has a crystal ball to determine the weather, but developers do have access to the next best thing: pyranometers! While irradiance observations themselves are not perfect, they can be extremely useful in helping to make decisions about what dataset to use, especially in datasets that show more deviation and uncertainty. Vaisala also offers on-site weather measurement equipment in its “integrated observation station package.” Developers can install this equipment onsite to help measure wind speed, temperature of both the air and the solar panels and precipitation levels. This information can be incorporated into other datasets and help guide developers to better racking choices and understand how factors like rain or snow can affect system production.

It all pays off Though steps to reduce resource uncertainty is an added expense, they enable developers to more accurately estimate production and profits—which is important to banks and other stakeholders. Research from pyranometer manufacturer Kipp & Zonen has determined that developers save $20,000 on average through improved financial terms for every 1% of resource uncertainty reduced. The exact amount will of course vary depending on project circumstances. Using long-term resource data can help developers be 7 to 10% more accurate about the resources they have on a project, which then helps them be more accurate with production estimates and profits. Incorporating  

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SERVICES onsite observation equipment can ensure even greater accuracy. Even a short period of observations from the World Bank at this site in Pakistan can be informative in choosing which long-term record to use.

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Maybe it’s time to change it up If you have always used the same resource data sources in your solar projects, now might be the time to change things up. It’s not only easier to evaluate multiple resource data sources now, but there is also some danger in having your entire portfolio based on the same source data. If, for example, you have used the same resource data source in the same version of PVsyst for years, you run the risk of systematic bias affecting your entire portfolio. By evaluating resource data sources on a project basis, you can reduce uncertainty at that project and across your portfolio. Diligent resource assessment can help generate longterm cost savings and enhance the overall bankability of your projects. SPW

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PAUL GRANA

S O F T WA R E

CO-FOUNDER, FOLSOM LABS

When NORTH-FACING MODULES make sense Analysis shows panels mounted away from the equator make more economic sense than you may think NORTH

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NORTH

NORTH

PRODUCTION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NORTH-FACING AND SOUTH-FACING ARRAY — CHARLOTTE, NC (35 N) O

PRODUCTION LOSSES

ILLUSTRATION OF ROOF SLOPES

modules south, toward the equator (assuming you are in the Northern Hemisphere). This maximizes the energy production over the course of the year, through summer and winter. Sometimes, however, a client will want to add modules on a northfacing roof. This may be for aesthetic purposes or sometimes because the south-facing rooftop isn’t fit for solar. The most common rule of thumb is you simply can’t mount modules facing north. But how bad can it really be? We did some analysis in HelioScope, our sales and design software platform, to find out. The accompanying illustrations and charts detail the outcome of our analysis. You can compare the module production losses of northand south-facing modules mounted at different slopes and azimuths. The charts detail outcomes in Charlotte, Miami and Minneapolis, as modeled in HelioScope. As a rough rule-of-thumb, northfacing modules that are within a 10% production loss of the south-facing modules are still extremely likely to be profitable if they can be used to expand the system size (while modules that are within 20% of the south-facing modules are often worth adding). This is because the north-facing modules would incur only the marginal costs— such as hardware and installation labor—and not the fixed costs. After all, you’ve already paid the costs to acquire the customer, obtain the permits and send a crew to the site.

ROOF PITCH NORTH-SOUTH 30 OFF 60 OFF -8% -7% -4% 1/2 (4.8 ) 2/12 (9.5 ) -16% -14% -8% 4/12 (18.4 ) -29% -25% -15% 7/12 (30.3 ) -44% -38% -23% -52% -46% -28% 10/12 (39.8 ) O

O

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GREEN: Production losses under 10% are very likely to be profitable. ORANGE: Production losses under 20% could be profitable. RED: Production losses over 20% are unlikely to be profitable.

NORTH

NORTH

NORTH

PRODUCTION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NORTH-FACING AND SOUTH-FACING ARRAY — MIAMI, FL (25 N) O

PRODUCTION LOSSES ILLUSTRATION OF ROOF SLOPES

It’s considered common knowledge to point your solar

ROOF PITCH NORTH-SOUTH 30 OFF 60 OFF -6% -5% -3% 1/2 (4.8 ) 2/12 (9.5 ) -12% -10% -5% 4/12 (18.4 ) -22% -18% -10% O

O

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GREEN: Production losses under 10% are very likely to be profitable. ORANGE: Production losses under 20% could be profitable. RED: Production losses over 20% are unlikely to be profitable.

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S O F T WA R E

As it turns out, a surprising number of north-facing rooftops could have solar added to them and be profitable. If the performance gap is smaller than the percentage of fixed costs for the system, then the modules can be profitably added. Most people will be genuinely surprised by these results, with good reason. Pointing modules away from the sun is, for many people, something you simply don’t do. But there are a couple reasons for the decent performance of north-facing modules: Diffuse sunlight will be the same for both the south- and northfacing arrays. There are basically two components of sunlight: the direct beam from the sun (called “direct”) and the glow of the blue sky (called “diffuse”). So while equator-facing modules do better with the direct light from the sun, they both receive similar amounts of diffuse light, which typically accounts for about 30% of the array’s energy. Direct sunlight is based on a cosine function. The amount of direct sunlight a module receives is based on the cosine of the angle—which, as seen

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P A N ES LO FPTOWI NA RT SE

FIGURE TWO 1000 900

1

30%

South-facing North-Facing Difference

25%

800

Energy Yield (kWh)

700

0.5

20%

600 15%

500 400

Difference (%)

y

FIGURE ONE

10%

300 200

5%

100

90

180

0

1

2

3

4

5

6 7 Month

8

9

10

11

12

0%

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S O F T WA R E NORTH

NORTH

NORTH

PRODUCTION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NORTH-FACING AND SOUTH-FACING ARRAY — MINNEAPOLIS, MN (45 N) O

ILLUSTRATION OF ROOF SLOPES

PRODUCTION LOSSES

ROOF PITCH NORTH-SOUTH 30 OFF 60 OFF -10% -9% -5% 1/2 (4.8 ) 2/12 (9.5 ) -20% -17% -10% 4/12 (18.4 ) -34% -30% -18% 7/12 (30.3 ) -48% -43% -27% 10/12 (39.8 ) -57% -51% -32% O

O

O

O

O O

O

GREEN: Production losses under 10% are very likely to be profitable. ORANGE: Production losses under 20% could be profitable. RED: Production losses over 20% are unlikely to be profitable.

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in figure one, is actually somewhat flat, especially near the peak. In other words, the difference between pointing right at the sun, versus being slightly off, is smaller than in other situations. The sun is overhead in the summer, when the array is most productive—so the arrays are nearly identical during the most crucial times. As can be seen in figure two, for our original reference project in Charlotte, the north-facing array is nearly identical to the south-facing array in the summer months, when production is greatest. While the differences are much larger in the winter months (over 20%), the energy yield during those times is much smaller. Of course, the analysis we’ve done shouldn’t imply that roof tilts max out at 4/12, or that north-facing modules always make sense. Moderate roof pitches (from 4/12 up to 9/12) can be common, especially in northern latitudes where steeper tilts help roofs shed snow before too much weight builds. We looked at roofs with up to a 10/12 slope in Charlotte, where results were less painful but still not great. Clearly, as with any design rule, the right approach will often depend on the location and application. SPW

Visit us at www.marathonsp.com

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Solar Industry Trends & Outlook 2016

Roughly three-quarters of all solar contractors plan to invest in new technology this year. Is your business among them? With an estimated $4.4 billion in growth expected over the next five years, the solar industry is faced with a tremendous boom – but also enormous amounts of competition. EagleView surveyed more than 200 solar industry professionals on the trends they follow and the challenges they face. We invite you to download your free copy in order to prepare for a successful year in the solar industry.

Visit www.eagleview.com/solar-trend-report to download your free copy or stop by Solar Power International at booth 208.

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

FACES OF INNOVATION

Tes

la

The names and faces of history’s greatest innovators are permanently woven into our collective memory. Leonardo da Vinci depicted a solar concentrator in drawings more than 500 years ago. In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin discovered numerous attributes about electricity, including its ability to flow from one conductor to another like water. And Nikola Tesla developed the AC electrical delivery system in the 1880s. It’s impossible to know what history will say about the innovators of today. The best known modern innovators—people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos—have left indelible marks on technology, sure, but there are thousands of other silent contributors transforming the way we live and work. This special section honors nine of the brightest minds in solar. These innovators and influencers are working inside the industry today so solar can live up to its promise of powering the world with clean, renewable energy tomorrow. Most have rarely been in the public eye. Leaders of leading solar companies chose those featured on the following pages, and they wrote why they made their choices. They said these innovators are committed, thoughtful, progressive and effective leaders. They said their contribution to the industry is not over—far from it. All we can say to this class of innovators and influencers is keep going—the world is counting on you!

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

NANCY PFUND INVESTING IN COMPANIES THAT DO GOOD BY ADAM BROWNING,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VOTE SOLAR

M

any venture capital firms invest in clean energy, and some talk about the benefits of investing with social impacts in mind. But there’s only one Nancy Pfund. Nancy is founder and managing partner of DBL Partners. DBL is an acronym for double bottom line, referring to the notion of seeking both financial and social returns simultaneously. What makes Nancy unique? For one, she’s excellent at what she does. She’s batting way above average when it comes to investing in successful cleantech companies. Her portfolio includes Tesla; rooftop leader SolarCity; both PowerLight and NEXTracker; Advanced Microgrid Solutions in the storage space; and the eponymous Off Grid Electric, delivering power, via solar, to 600 million people who’ve never had access to it in developing nations around the world.

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Her success validates the important premise that one can do well by doing good. But what I admire more than her success is her activism. Successful businesspeople have a platform, and Nancy uses hers to influence the dialogue around clean energy with policymakers and the broader public. She prepares deeply researched papers on subjects such as the history of robust subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuels compared to renewables; the truth that increasing renewable energy does not, in fact, send electricity prices sky-rocketing; and the jobcreating reality of our growing clean-energy economy. Nancy understands that policy is a contact sport, and she is very effective in smacking back the pervasive misinformation that the opponents of renewables work so hard to perpetuate. Nancy has a vision of a better world and doesn’t just put her money where her mouth is, but also her mouth where her money is. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:31 PM


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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

DANNY KENNEDY ALWAYS WITH PEOPLE IN MIND BY BORIS VON BORMANN,

CEO OF SONNEN

D

anny Kennedy’s contributions to the solar industry are extensive, diverse and, to put it mildly, impressive by anyone’s standards. A dedicated activist, company founder, published author and more, Danny seems to have done it all, proving his dedication to the industry. While the extent of his work stands out, I think what sets Danny apart is his commitment to advocating for others. Twenty years ago, Danny worked as director of Project Underground, where he campaigned to support communities resisting mining and oil operations. After several years, he transitioned to Greenpeace and contributed to passing the California Solar Initiative. In 2007, he co-founded Sungevity, which has become a leading provider of rooftop solar panels and a developer in 13 states plus Washington, D.C., and parts of Europe. More recently, he joined CalCharge and Powerhouse as president. In each organization, he helps accelerate solar’s progress. Most recently, he became managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund, an organiza-

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tion aiming to ignite investment, support entrepreneurs and remove the barriers to advancing the clean energy economy. Though Danny has risen to the top of the industry, he maintains his activist spirit in every endeavor. He uses his positions to facilitate positive relationships and the upward mobility of all working toward cleaner energy and a cleaner environment for all. sonnen arose out of the viewpoint that clean and affordable energy for everyone is the biggest challenge of our time, and I think this is also why Danny’s work has really resonated with me. The partnership between sonnen and Sungevity is designed to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to residential customers in a way that is successful and sustainable. To enact true change in our energy future, we as an industry must work together to ensure the greatest success. Danny is inspiring our industry and me to do exactly that. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:31 PM


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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

JANE WEISSMAN EMPHASIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING BY ANDREA LUECKE,

PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOLAR FOUNDATION

A

pioneer in the renewable energy arena, Jane Weissman has played an indispensable role in professionalizing the solar workforce. Jane became the head of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) in 1994 and served in that position for 22 years. She was among the first to aggressively, continuously and persistently stress the importance of quality training and standards in solar. Jane understands that whether it’s a residential installation or a complex utility-scale project, the customer needs to know installers will adhere to safety standards, provide excellent customer service and never compromise quality. That’s how we can make the growth in the solar workforce sustainable and maintain public confidence in the industry. As the number of solar jobs

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keeps expanding every year, it is crucial that the industry maintains its reputation for quality and high standards. A commitment to quality is also the way to keep attracting job seekers who are proud to establish careers in solar. Jane stepped down from IREC this summer and now plans to make a transition into a consulting and political role. Under Jane’s leadership, IREC has done groundbreaking work on standards development and workforce education. The group has also done valuable research that is shaping our conversations around hot-button issues like community solar and net metering. And on a personal note, I have come to know Jane as a truly effective leader who always recognizes the contributions of others. With solar technologies growing ever more widespread, I know she will continue making an impact. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:31 PM


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8/30/16 9:44 AM


2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

ALEX DiGIORGIO HELPING RATEPAYERS VOTE WITH THEIR DOLLARS BY CLAUDIA WENTWORTH,

CEO OF QUICK MOUNT PV

I

am often motivated by the many ordinary and extraordinary people who are aligned to change the standard of how we harness the electrical energy we all use. Doing this takes effort from many, many people who are teaching, learning, creating and innovating new roads into a static, archaic, utility-monopolized energy paradigm. At a recent NorCal Solar event in Oakland, Calif., I was inspired by a wonderful speaker, Alex DiGiorgio. Alex is the community development manager with MCE, an enterprising public agency (technically a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program) that educates and facilitates communities to empower their citizens by giving them a choice in their energy sources. Democratizing the economics of energy lets consumers use their ratepayer dollars to vote for which type of energy they want to consume (clean versus dirty or toxic) and allows for transparency in what has

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otherwise been a very closed market. Having studied energy regulation and environmental law, Alex understands this not only creates energy choice but also local workforce benefits, economic benefits and lets energy entrepreneurism flourish. Community Choice Energy can be a vehicle for any individual, corporation, school or community to sell their excess energy back at a retail value. Sunlight and wind are worth more in MCE’s service area, and the CCE model is now accessible and reproducible for cities, counties and communities—due to the hard work of strong, driven visionaries like Alex. We now have the opportunity to rapidly shift to clean energy sources, decrease our carbon footprint and pursue a better, cleaner, healthier world. We need more influencers like Alex DiGiorgio. Thank you Alex, and everyone out there working toward this goal. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:32 PM


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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

JOHN BENNER THE QUIET BRIDGE BUILDER BY B.J. STANBERY,

PRESIDENT OF SIVA POWER

I

nnovation lies at the heart of the solar industry, but its remarkable rise was arguably seeded by the OAPEC oil embargo of 1973, which forced a worldwide recognition of how vulnerable the global manufacturing economy was to the cost of energy, and motivated the creation of both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) in 1977. Among that cadre of SERI’s earliest employees, John Benner has most consistently and persistently championed the innovation bridge between universities, the DOE’s national laboratories and industry. John now serves as executive director of the Bay Area PV Consortium (BAPVC), an industry-led university research consortium managed jointly by U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University. Funded by a blend of DOE and industry membership dues, the BAPVC has become the nexus of collaborative research between leading academic researchers across the United States and a major industry recruitment highway into universities. His disarming indulgence in witty wordplay and stretched puns can mask the thoughtful, careful and committed facilitator

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whose most memorable words I recall are emblematic of how he serves: “First figure out the right thing to do; then figure out how to do the right thing right.” John has made a career of the unglamorous and underappreciated behind-the-scenes work required to do the right thing right, bringing people together across institutional divides to advance PV technology and transfer it to industry. During the earliest decade of that career at SERI (morphed into NREL in 1991), John managed its university research program. When the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) was founded in 1996 to coordinate the PV research efforts of NREL and Sandia National Lab, John was its founding director. And in 1993, when the Boeing Company (for whom I worked) decided to shut down its PV research efforts, John helped persuade the DOE to facilitate Boeing’s graceful exit in exchange for transferring its pioneering work in CIGS technology to academia, where its scientific foundation strengthened, before returning to industry along with me and my Ph.D. in 2001. Technologies, like lives, are often saved one at a time by unseen heroes like John. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:32 PM


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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

CHRIS SCYOCURKA NEW ENGLAND’S PACE LEADER BY JONATHAN DOOCHIN,

CEO OF SOLIGENT

C

hris Scyocurka’s entrepreneurial mind has always been a step ahead and very much interested in renewable energy sources, which made the role of managing partner at Green Earth Energy feel like second nature to him. He attended the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Center for Geothermal Energy at Oklahoma State University, which provided him with the know-how to construct a “top of the line” photovoltaic system from his home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. As a senior systems electrical propulsion engineer for General Electric at 24 years old, Chris oversaw the complete overhaul of the MBTA red line in Eastern Massachusetts. Adding together his experience in electrical engineering from his time working for the United States Nuclear Navy and his mechanical engineering background from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Chris engineered one of the largest privately-owned residential solar arrays in Massachusetts. The solar-topped pergola has entirely eclipsed his electrical expenses since interconnection.

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Although Chris had formally retired from his former business life, he realized there was a great need and ripe market for solar energy in both the commercial and residential sectors in New England. Since the company’s inception in 2011, Green Earth Energy has quickly become one of the nation’s leading PACE-financed solar contractors and was recently recognized through the Connecticut Green Bank C-PACE program. Continuing to transform the market for solar in New England, Green Earth Energy plans to extend its footprint throughout the country, including a recent expansion into Maryland this past spring. Chris founded Green Earth Energy upon the principles of quality, integrity and sustainability. Chris’ recipe for success is pairing new technologies with an old-school “do it yourself” mentality. Chris continues to innovate by offering his clients energy efficiency options to pair with their solar, including lighting upgrades, programmable thermostats and HVAC. He stands as a trusted point of contact regarding any energy efficiency concerns for homeowners and businesses in New England. SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:32 PM


Find us at SPI Booth #633

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

LISA JACKSON DEMONSTRATING WHAT’S POSSIBLE IN RENEWABLE ENERGY BY HOWARD WENGER,

PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS UNITS FOR SUNPOWER

M

any companies have pledged to use 100% renewable energy, but Apple has gone further faster than any other company. Helping Apple blaze this trail is Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. With the support of her boss, CEO Tim Cook, this former EPA administrator has taken a proactive, innovative approach to ensure the company’s energy strategy reflects its core values and business goals. Consider their progress: • As of January 2016, 93% of Apple facilities were running on energy from renewable sources. In 23 countries, including large emitters like the U.S. and China, that number is 100%. • The company has decreased carbon emissions per product every year since 2011. • Apple’s new corporate campus will be powered by one of the largest onsite corporate solar energy installations in the world.

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Lisa is a champion of the environment and she thinks big. She believes that energy efficiency and renewable energy are the solution to climate change. I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa and Mike Petouhoff, Apple’s energy manager, as they have implemented solar solutions to run offices, retail stores and data centers. Not content to just reduce Apple’s own carbon footprint, in 2015, Lisa and her team launched a new program to help their manufacturing partners run their operations on clean energy. Their plans call for 4 GW of clean energy projects driven by both environmental and business benefits. Through her tenacity, vision and business acumen, Lisa, Mike and the team at Apple have demonstrated that it’s possible to run a global business on renewable energy. It’s a model other companies can and should emulate. As she told the Wall Street Journal in March 2015, “This is a core value for us, and we’re living it.” SPW

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 2:32 PM


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North America’s Most-Attended Solar Event Moscone Center, San Francisco Hear it here first! Be part of the first major U.S. solar event of the year 18,000 visitors connect with 550 international exhibitors The perfect match! Intersolar is co-located with ees (electrical energy storage)

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

ERICA MACKIE CHANGING COMMUNITIES THROUGH SOLAR BY RAGHU BELUR,

COFOUNDER AND VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTS AND STRATEGIC INITIATIVES AT ENPHASE ENERGY

F

ew people are more passionate about the power of solar to change lives than Erica Mackie, cofounder and CEO of GRID Alternatives—the largest nonprofit solar installer in the country. Her enthusiastic efforts to deploy solar in low-income and underserved communities and to provide solar training to members of those communities has positively affected the lives of thousands of people since GRID began in 2001.

project, intensely focused on installing panels and microinverters, getting her hands dirty with a big grin on her face. She’d rather wear a hard hat and work clothes than buttoned-down business attire. Many of us at Enphase have witnessed Erica’s enthusiasm first hand, as we have volunteered our time on GRID projects and donated many megawatts worth of gear to the cause.

Erica has been working to improve the lives of the less fortunate her entire adult life. Such deep commitment to social and environmental justice underpins GRID’s philosophy. She sees solar as a force for social good, a way to ease the energy cost burden on those who spend a big part of their income on their utility bills and an opportunity to improve the quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Erica and the GRID team are just getting started. What began as a small non-profit based in the Bay Area has expanded to several more states and even into Nicaragua and Nepal. Erica sees a tremendous opportunity to deploy solar and create jobs across the millions of affordable-housing units and lowincome owner-occupied households in the United States. The rise of community solar also presents a thrilling opportunity to deliver solar power to underserved areas, and I expect Erica and GRID to take full advantage of it. SPW

As an engineer, Erica is not content to just stay in the office. You’ll often find her up on the roof of a GRID

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2016 SOLAR INNOVATORS AND INFLUENCERS

DORA NAKAFUJI PLANNING FOR HAWAII’S SOLAR FUTURE BY JULIA HAMM,

PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE SMART ELECTRIC POWER ALLIANCE (SEPA)

W

hen historians, years from now, write about the great 21st century clean energy transition, one person they’ll mention is Dora Nakafuji, director of the renewable energy planning division at Hawaiian Electric Company. The more you talk with her, the cooler and more impressive she is. Dora started at Hawaiian Electric in 2009—well before the state’s solar boom led to panels on one third of the houses on the island of Oahu. She quickly foresaw that the utility would need a range of data-driven tools to maintain grid reliability. She assembled a cross-disciplinary, highly collaborative team to develop new programs for forecasting renewable output on the islands, mapping renewable project locations and supporting renewable integration. Dora and her team have laid the foundation for the partnerships and innovation needed to reach the state’s goal of 100% renewable power by 2045. The programs she developed are being studied and replicated across the country.

Dora’s came to renewables somewhat circuitously. She has Ph.D. in aeronautical-mechanical engineering—designing airplanes—which, she says, was a major influence on her collaborative work ethic. Getting flights out on time is an exercise in goal-oriented teamwork which she has adapted to her work at Hawaiian Electric. Nakafuji knows that one of the biggest challenges for utilities is changing their internal culture. She also knows getting to Hawaii’s 100% renewables goal will mean the emergence of a new kind of utility—one built on collaboration and a deep understanding of how customers use and manage energy. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Dora is that she is always learning, always looking for new models and mentors to improve the work she and her team are doing. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next. SPW

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[CONTRACTORS CORNER]

Canadian EPC installs in the freezing Arctic Circle to bring solar to diesel-country Green Sun Rising Windsor, Ontario By Kelly Pickerel, Associate Editor

Klaus Dohring Klaus Dohring is the founder of Green Sun Rising

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Many in the solar industry claim to be green-minded and passionate about their jobs. The question is: Are they passionate enough to travel over 2,500 miles from their warm homebase into the arctic tundra just to install a 15-kW system? Green Sun Rising talks the talk and walks the walk, installing solar in its home province of Ontario and on the tippy-top edge of Canada along the Arctic Ocean, and they love it. Founded in 2008 by Klaus Dohring and headquartered in Windsor, Green Sun Rising services all of Canada, but has become known for its installations in far-away, remote places, especially in the provinces of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The projects aren’t especially large (they usually measure between 10 and 80 kW), but they make a big difference for the community members used to waiting for truckloads of diesel fuel for power. “Canada only has about 10% of the population of the U.S. In the remote regions, we have very few people in these facilities and locations,” Dohring said. “Canada has approximately 300 communities that are off the national grid. Some of these communities are fly-in. Some have a winter ice road. Some have a once-a-year barge coming. These communities are really expensive to supply with diesel fuel.” The planning involved with accessing these remote areas to install solar is often more intense than the actual installation in sub-zero weather. A recent Green Sun Rising project in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories, had to be timed around once-a-year access to a winter ice road. “The only road connection is extremely rough [with] a time window of about 6 to 8 weeks,” Dohring said. “We had to get that truck in (with 15 tons of materials) and unloaded in time. We then flew an installation team in on June 1st. June 2nd we had snowfall.” The 82.5-kW ground-mounted system is the largest in the Northwest Territories installed in 2015 and will help the 160-member community reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. The system uses ballast trays on top of permafrost.

You have brilliant open skies. The air tends to be quite dry, so you have excellent visibility. The data is clear. The [solar] harvest is magnificent.

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[CONTRACTORS CORNER]

Two projects had to be quickly installed during Iqaluit, Nunvaut’s coldest month this year. Temperatures average -17.5° F (-27° C) during the day in February, and Dohring said the snowblindness can be awful, not to mention the wind. Working with aluminum parts and tools was difficult, because they’d often freeze together at the installation site. “It could have been worse,” Dohring said, genuinely cheerful. “We’re wearing inner gloves and outer gloves. We did wear very warm clothing, multiple layers. Maintaining my body temperature while working, going up and down scaffolding, was the most challenging. We were well protected, but my glasses would fog up on me.”

Even with its challenges, Dohring said working in Canada’s extreme northern regions can be beautiful and rewarding in the right conditions. “You have brilliant open skies. The air tends to be quite dry, so you have excellent visibility,” he said. “The data is clear. The [solar] harvest is magnificent.” Dohring said the February Iqaluit project is already generating 40% higher than the DC-rated output. The low ambient temperatures of the region, along with the reflections from all the frozen surfaces and lack of trees shading systems, contribute to incredible solar generation. While Green Sun Rising has gained a reputation for installing projects in far-away places under extreme, time-constrained conditions, the group also services Ontario and works on many projects in the south. “The remote projects help us balance our workload,” Dohring said. “We do our solar installations in Southern Canada in the summer. These remote projects need winter work because we have to get all the projects prepared and crated up and use winter ice roads.” Dohring said everyone involved with Green Sun Rising enjoys rising to the challenge. “We need to respond to climate change and the damage we’ve already done. Renewable energy is the right thing to do,” he said. “We not only talk it, we live it. We have two electrical vehicles. We generate more electricity at this site than we use. We help other people to also live it. It’s the right thing to do, and we love doing it.” SPW

LEFT: A 15.6-kW installation in Banks Island, Northwest Territories. RIGHT: A 10.4-kW installation in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

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[SOLAR SNAPSHOT]

What influences residential solar customers? In a report called the “Solar Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS),” NREL looked at what drove or discouraged homeowners to go solar. Here are several infographics showing the results. Read more information and watch three free webinars on the report at nrel.gov/extranet/seeds.

What prompted you to look into solar panels when you did?

Have any of these issues stopped you from getting solar panels?

Check all that apply

Check all that apply

Looking for ways to reduce energy bills

Coming up with the money to get solar

Heard it was more affordable

Finding a trustworthy and competent installer

Someone you know talked to you about it

Suitability of your home site (shading, orientation, roof structure or condition)

Saw advertising or news article

Not everyone in your household being convinced

Heard about low-money-down options

Finding an installer who would agree to do the work

Saw solar on a home or being installed

Permitting, zoning, or neighborhood restrictions

Approached by an installer Offered at a retail store, home show, or community event

0%

Considering / adding a major new energy use

20%

How did you and the installer first connect?

Planning / doing other work on your home

Check all that apply

Bought a home / moved

They knocked on your door or left a flier

Planning for retirement

Someone recommended the installer

Came into some money

Other

Had group purchase opportunity

Someone gave the installer your name

Don’t know

0%

40%

Previously familiar with the company or employee(s)

20%

40%

60%

At a community event, home show, or retail store (e.g., Home Depot) They called, e-mailed, or mailed you You found them through research (internet search, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc.) You found them through an ad or news article (radio, television, print, or internet) You filled out a form on a website

0%

20%

rest of market

40%

60%

Percent of respondents

82

SOLAR POWER WORLD

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9 • 2016

www.solarpowerworldonline.com

8/30/16 1:54 PM


SOLAR

SPEAKS ive L

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SOLAR POWER WORLD SOLAR SPEAKS LIVE

LIVE INTERVIEWS WITH INDUSTRY EXPERTS

SOLAR POWER INTERNATIONAL

powered by Unirac

SEPTEMBER 13 & 14 UNIRAC BOOTH

#SSLIVE16

Come see Solar Power World editors perform live interviews with industry innovators and leading contractors at the Unirac booth 2771 during the Solar Power International show in Las Vegas September 13 and 14.

Tuesday 9/13: Industry Innovators

Wednesday 9/14: Leading Solar Contractors

10:30 a.m.: Nathan Rosenstein, marketing director, SolarTech Universal

11 a.m.:

Jeff Calabro, senior vice president of business development, ArrayCon

11 a.m.:

Tenley Ann Dalstrom, program director of Solar Ready Vets, The Solar Foundation

1 p.m.:

Peter Lorenz, CEO, Unirac

1 p.m.:

Erica Mackie, co-founder and CEO of GRID Alternaives

1:30 p.m.:

Mark Begert, EVP and director at Meridian Solar

2 p.m.:

Bryan Christiansen, chief strategy and innovations officer, Vivint Solar

1:30 p.m.: Larry Sherwood, vice president and COO, IREC 3 p.m.

Dora Nakafuji, director of renewable energy planning at Hawaiian Electric

4 p.m.:

Tom Kimbis, interim president, SEIA

3 p.m.: Helge Biernath, president and CEO, Sunstall 3:30 p.m.:

David Vorlage, president, NamastĂŠ Solar

Also, rewatch and share the recorded interviews after the show on solarpowerworldonline.com. solarpowerworldonline.com

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[AD INDEX] ABB Power-One............................................................17 AceClamp...................................................................... 50 Altech Corporation...................................................... 33 APsystems.........................................................................5 Axitec Solar USA........................................................... 65 Backwoods Solar.......................................................... 28 Baja Construction Co. Inc...........................................41 Campbell Scientific...................................................... 54 Chint Power Systems.................................................IFC Continental Control Systems.................................... 20 Cornell Dubilier Electronics, Inc................................21 Darfon Solar.................................................................. 24 DPW Solar...................................................................... 73 Dunkermotoren, part of Ametek...............................31 EagleView Technologies..............................................61 EcoFasten Solar............................................................ 44 Ecolibrium Solar............................................................18 EDF Renewable Energy............................................... 58 Exosun............................................................................ 45 First Solar........................................................................ 37 Fortune Energy..............................................................51 Fronius USA LLC............................................................57 GameChange Solar LLC................................................3 Heyco Products...............................................................7 Infineon Technologies................................................ 47 SALES Jim Powers 312.925.7793 jpowers@wtwhmedia.com @jpowers_media

Tom Lazar 408.701.7944 wtlazar@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_Tom

David Geltman 516.510.6514 dgeltman@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_david

Jessica East 330.319.1253 jeast@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_MsMedia

Neel Gleason 312.882.9867 ngleason@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_ngleason

Michelle Flando 440.381.9110 mflando@wtwhmedia.com @mflando

LEADERSHIP TEAM

84

VP of Sales Mike Emich 508.446.1823 memich@wtwhmedia.com @wtwh_memich

EVP Marshall Matheson 805.895.3609 mmatheson@wtwhmedia.com @mmatheson

Managing Director Scott McCafferty 310.279.3844 smccafferty@wtwhmedia.com @SMMcCafferty

Associate Publisher Courtney Seel cseel@wtwhmedia.com 440.523.1685 @wtwh_CSeel

SOLAR POWER WORLD

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9 • 2016

Intersolar North America.............................................77 IronRidge........................................................................ 34 Kipp & Zonen..................................................................13 Magerack Corporation................................................ 48 Marathon Special Products........................................60 Methode Inc.................................................................. 29 Mounting Systems Inc................................................. 59 NineFasteners............................................................... 30 Omco Solar................................................................... 49 Panasonic Eco Solutions NA........................................ 9 Phoenix Contact............................................................75 Pika Energy.................................................................... 67 RBI Solar, Inc................................................................. 55 Rolls Battery................................................................... 53 Roof Tech....................................................................... 43 S-5!...................................................................................15 S&C Electric................................................................. IBC Schneider Electric IT.......................................................2 Seaward Group............................................................. 27 Snake Tray...................................................................... 23 Solar Connections International................................19 Solar FlexRack............................................................... 22 SolarEdge Technologies..............................................71 SolarRoofHook/QuickScrews...................................... 6 Southwire....................................................................... 35 Sun Action Trackers..................................................... 38 SUNGROW..................................................................... 69 SunLink........................................................................... 39 Tamura Corp................................................................. 20 Unirac, Inc......................................................................... 1 Yaskawa - Solectria Solar.................................... 12, BC

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SOLAR POWER WORLD does not pass judgment on subjects of controversy nor enter into disputes with or between any individuals or organizations. SOLAR POWER WORLD is also an independent forum for the expression of opinions relevant to industry issues. Letters to the editor and by-lined articles express the views of the author and not necessarily of the publisher or publication. Every effort is made to provide accurate information. However, the publisher assumes no responsibility for accuracy of submitted advertising and editorial information. Non-commissioned articles and news releases cannot be acknowledged. Unsolicited materials cannot be returned nor will this organization assume responsibility for their care. SOLAR POWER WORLD does not endorse any products, programs, or services of advertisers or editorial contributors. Copyright©2016 by WTWH Media, LLC. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified persons may subscribe at the following rates: U.S. and possessions, 1 year: $125; 2 years: $200; 3 years $275; Canadian and foreign, 1 year: $195; only U.S. funds are accepted. Single copies $15. Subscriptions are prepaid by check or money orders only. SUBSCRIBER SERVICES: To order a subscription or change your address, please visit our web site at www.solarpowerworldonline.com SOLAR POWER WORLD (ISSN 2164-7135) is published by WTWH Media, LLC, 6555 Carnegie Avenue, Suite 300, Cleveland, OH 44103.

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8/30/16 5:11 PM


Want to reduce the cost of your solar farm and get it built and running faster?

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S&C ELECTRIC COMPANY ©2013 S&C Electric Company

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Solar Power World _ SEPTEMBER 2016