Commercial Solar

AUSTRALIA – Sanyo along with its system integrator, Apollo Energy, have unveiled the largest commercially-funded solar panel installation in Australia for Johnson & Johnson Medical.

As part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical sustainability program, Project Leaf: linking environment and future, a 200 kilowatt Sanyo solar panel system has been installed on the roof of its Sydney headquarters.

The vendor partnered with its system integrator, Apollo Energy, to help install the system, which contains 952 panels, covers a surface area on the roof of 1212sqm and will power over 50 homes. It aims to save Johnson & Johnson Medical 240 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

According to ARN, Sanyo group manager, environmental division, Paul Reeves, said the development of this large scale solar panel installation is truly a milestone for the solar panel industry in Australia.

“It is the largest panel installation in the country and will save Johnson & Johnson Medical around 10 per cent of its electricity costs,” he said. “The technology is getting to the point where companies like Johnson & Johnson Medical, understand that the solar energy solutions they purchase will not only provide them with a reduction in their footprint, it will also be working for the next 25 to 30 years to dramatically reduce their monthly electricity bills.”

The rooftop solar panel installation uses Sanyo’s patented HIT technology, which are cells that combine technology from two common solar cells, Crystalline and Amorphous, to create a more efficient and effective solar cell. Sanyo HIT solar cells are hybrid cells, made of thin mono crystal silicon surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layer.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, Member for Bennelong, Maxine McKew and a host of other dignitaries launched the installation in Sydney’s North Ryde yesterday, 19 August.

Source: The Bio Energy Site.


The Moloka’i General Hospital, on the island of Moloka’i in Hawai’i, will be using solar-generated electricity to power part of its operations.

The 105.48 kW-sized rooftop system, the largest photovoltaic plant on the island, was built and financed at no capital cost to the hospital through a solar Power Purchase Agreement partnership with Solar Power Partners of Mill Valley, CA., who develops, owns, and operates solar energy facilities throughout the continental United States and Hawai’i.

ProVision Solar, based in Hilo, designed and installed the system using high efficiency SunPower Corporation 315-watt photovoltaic modules and SunPower’s self-ballasted T5 hardware.

A solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is an arrangement where the hospital pays only for the electricity produced by the system at a pre-determined rate over the life of the contract. The PPA ensures that a portion of their energy bill will be predictable and stable.

This is particularly advantageous in Hawai’i and especially on Moloka’i, which typically has some of the highest electric rates in the nation.

“We are very excited to embrace green technologies and save money in the process,” said Randy Lite, Vice President of the Moloka’i General Hospital.

“Due to our non-profit status and not being able to take advantage of the State and Federal tax credits for alternative energy installations, it was very difficult to economically justify a solar application at our facility.

This power purchase agreement has made it possible for us to reduce our carbon footprint, and electric bills at the same time with no out of pocket costs for installation. The installation process was painless and we look forward to a long relationship with Solar Power Partners and ProVision Solar.”

Moloka’i General Hospital, part of the Queen’s Health Systems, is a 15-bed Critical Access Hospital with the only emergency room for the 7,000 residents and visitors on the island of Moloka’i.

The solar array will produce about a quarter of the hospital’s electricity needs or an estimated 170,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy in the first year of operation, which is equivalent to removing the annual emissions from almost 14,000 gallons of gasoline.

“We’re pleased to include Moloka’i General Hospital in our growing portfolio of both medical facility solar projects and projects in the Hawaiian Islands,” said Bob Powell, President and CEO of Solar Power Partners.

“Medical facilities are excellent examples of large-energy use customers. This project demonstrates how an institution can rely on electric energy from a plentiful and reliable source in the islands – the sun – and enjoy stable energy rates.”

Marco Mangelsdorf, ProVision Solar’s president, had nothing but praise in working with the hospital’s staff over the course of the project.

“We could not have asked for a better partner. The entire MGH crew was nothing short of fantastic and we’re proud to have played a part in bringing more renewable energy to the Friendly Isle.”

Solar Power Partners owns and operates two other medical facility solar systems, as well as a solar project on the roof of the Maui Economic Development Board’s facilities in Kihei.

The system at Moloka’i General Hospital is part of SPP’s efforts to bring renewable energy to more commercial customers in the Aloha State. SPP is actively developing other projects in the islands, with their recent $215 million in project funding allowing the possibility of more projects into their portfolio.

Source: Solar Daily.

In its 10th year, the Solar Power International conference in Los Angeles, on Oct. 14-15, is on course to be the largest commercial solar event in the world.

The conference, sponsored by the Solar Electric Power Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, has grown every year since it started, and this year, sponsors expect more than 27,000 visitors and almost 1,100 vendor booths, said Monique Hanis, a spokesperson for the event.

With 15 percent more booths and 7 to 10 percent more visitors, Hanis said, event organizers are pleased.

“We’ve actually been having issues finding hotel rooms for everyone,” Hanis said.

There’s no wonder the event is expected to be a blowout this year—the solar industry has experienced monumental growth.

Hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of solar panels went up in public and residential spaces this year.

“This is the show that encompasses every element of solar technology,” Hanis said.

Vendors from the public and residential sectors will be exhibiting new technologies in solar thermal, photovoltaic, and other methods of solar energy collection and distribution at the event.

The event will be free and open to the public Wednesday, Oct. 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

People from the public will be able to learn about the new technologies, talk with vendors and find out about installing solar at their homes and businesses. They will also be able to learn about how to get a job in the solar industry, Hanis said.

“Solar is a growing industry, and there’s been a lot of job growth already,” Hanis said. “Job growth in solar this year was 7 percent higher than we estimated it would be.”

One big sector for this year’s conference, Hanis said, is the utility-scale work. She said utility companies have broken ground on hundreds of major solar projects this year with many more in the pipeline for approval. She noted some of the huge public lands solar projects approved this year.

“We’ve had 74,000 public land leases for gas and oil extraction,” Hanis said. “But this is the first year the government has granted public land leases for solar development. That’s huge.” She said the western states richest in solar resources have a lot of public lands.

Hanis hopes the growth of the event will highlight the industry’s growth.

Source: Solar Feeds.

The New York Jets are now more than just green in uniform with the completion of a new rooftop 3,000 solar panel installation on their Atlantic Health Training Center.

The rooftop project is owned by solar service provider Syncarpha Capital, who will sell the electricity produced by the solar panels to the New York Jets under a long-term purchase agreement. No capital outlay was required by the Jets, who expect to save tens-of-thousands a year in energy costs.

“We are proud to be green in color and also in deed,” Mr Sheely said. “We chose the right partners and are thrilled about what this installation will do for our organization, our community, and hopefully for inspiring the entire league.”

The panels were manufactured by Yingli Green Energy Holding (NYSE: YGE) and construction and design were managed by Sundurance Energy and Evolution Energies.

Source: Solar Feeds.

Every industry has a rock star. The financial industry has Warren Buffet. The tech industry has Steve Jobs. The oil industry (and now wind industry) has T. Boone Pickens. And the solar PV industry has Jigar Shah.

So what makes someone a rock star in the business world? Well, success is a prerequisite. As the founder of SunEdison, a firm that pioneered the commercial solar power purchase agreement in North America, Shah’s rise in his mid-thirties was one of the first high-profile success stories in the modern solar industry.

But achieving rock-stardom is about much more than being a good businessman. Even Shah (who has never proclaimed himself a star of the solar industry) admits that financial success is only a very small part of industry success – especially in renewables and efficiency.

“You can really make a ton of money in these areas and never make a difference. And that’s really sad,” he says.

He points to the energy efficiency sector where numerous $50 million-a-year businesses have barely made a dent in Americans’ wasteful energy consumption. The same could be said of the solar industry, where a company like thin-film manufacturer First Solar – with revenues of over $2 billion and a market capitalization of $12 billion – is leading a market that represents a tiny fraction of the overall energy mix.

But Shah believes that solar is on a path toward high penetration. He criticizes those who say solar is too expensive, or that we need breakthrough technologies to make any difference. He believes that the positive indicators are staring us in the face, and anyone who doesn’t see them is blind or purposefully ignoring them.

And this brings us to another defining trait of a rockstar: Someone who is able to envision and articulate the future of an industry, even if that vision is not always consistent with conventional wisdom (i.e. solar is too expensive, solar is too intermittent, the technology is not ready).

I had the opportunity to co-host a web conference this week with AltaTerra research about the outlook for the solar industry through 2013. Shah was the featured speaker, and he offered a lot of insight into how this very volatile market will play out over the next few years.

The theme of his talk was “The Solar Industry Controls its Own Destiny.” By this, he means that the pieces are already in place for companies to put massive amounts of solar online. It’s about building strong businesses now, not blaming politicians or the fossil energy industries for setbacks.

Here’s a quick summary of the key points he made:

  • The magic number for solar is $2 a watt installed. At that price, 30% of the global electricity supply could be cost-competitively met by solar PV.
  • By 2012, the price of a 1 MW crystalline-silicon solar PV system will dip as low as $2.60 a watt installed, putting solar well within the $2 per watt threshold.
  • Due to these prices (ranging between $4.60 a watt and $2.40 a watt), existing solar technologies will make a substantive impact today – no third-generation solar technologies needed. Shah believes the incessant focus on “breakthrough” technologies, while important in the long-term, distracts us from the realities of what we can do today.
  • We can expect to see about a 35% compound annual growth rate through 2013, with a 65% growth rate in North America, 18% growth in Europe and 68% growth in emerging markets like India, Singapore and China. The industry will put about 20 GW of global capacity online in 2012.
  • As solar reaches the $3 per watt installed range and starts to move below that level, utilities are developing solar for reasons other than regulatory pressure. For example, according to a Florida Power and Light executive, solar PV is now cheaper than new coal facilities in that utility’s service territory. In addition, the Georgia PUC reported that a new nuclear facility would raise utility bills in the state by $1.30 a month. But a combination of solar, thermal storage and dynamic load control would have raised rates by only $1 a month.
  • Due to fewer regulatory and capital constraints, distributed generation will rule the day. With over 3 billion square feet of flat roofs installed globally each year, around 20 GW of solar could theoretically be accommodated. While centralized generation like CSP will be important, Shah says that the complications associated with permitting and building new transmission lines for mega-projects will slow down growth of that sector.
  • The best companies will be all-stars in international finance. As markets shift year by year, understanding how to finance projects across a variety of markets will be critical to success. Companies that are financially nimble and sophisticated will lead in solar.
  • Most innovation will take place downstream, not upstream. Shah believes that the low hanging fruit to reduce costs is in the balance-of-systems sector (inverters, power optimization, tracking software, racking, wiring, labor) and in sales and distribution. (If we can create incredibly sophisticated channels for toasters and flat screen televisions, why can’t we do the same for solar?) He also believes that lead generation, sales and installation will be separated.
  • Given all these trends, Shah says that solar will reach a 5% penetration in the U.S. by 2020.
  • He admits that the policy environment for solar is still sketchy in some markets. But rather than “bitch” about not getting equal support, he says the industry should be telling the fossil energy industries, “we’ll get rid of our tax incentives if you get rid of yours.”

Shah’s main point throughout the presentation was that the industry already has a good business environment to build from – it is no longer about what “they” are going to do to support solar. It’s about what “we” are going to do to grow the industry. Even without the full support of heel dragging politicians and utilities, there’s still plenty of business to be done.

Source: Renewable Energy World.

Solar City, a company that designs, installs and leases out solar systems to home and business owners announced that it will bring solar power to some 30 Wal-Mart stores in California and Arizona.

Wal-Mart operates more than 8,500 brick and mortar locations worldwide, and began adding renewable energy to operations, bit by bit, years ago. Since 2005, Wal-Mart has purchased wind-generated electricity from Duke Energy, solar power from Sun Edison and SunPower, and tested out hybrid and biofuel trucks within its fleets, also installing Bloom Energy biogas fuel cell system to power two stores in Southern California. Solar City plans to use thin-film solar technology at the Wal-Mart stores provided by Miasolé and First Solar.

The deal is representative of a global trend: increasing use and sales of clean energy, in particular from solar photovoltaics. According to research by SolarBuzz, the “PV” industry’s worldwide revenue increased by 154% year over year, hitting $17.2 billion for the second quarter of 2010, compared to $6.2 billion for the same period in 2009.

Chief executive and founder of Solar City, Lyndon Rive [pronounced like “five”] spoke with TechCrunch about helping Wal-Mart go greener, what his company looks for in solar technology providers, and why the United States is simply not a solar leader — yet.

Q: What does Solar City do?

LR: We’ve had a clear road map since the inception of the company in 2006. We knew we needed to make solar as affordable as possible for as many people as possible, reducing barriers to adoption, and up front costs.

We design, finance and install [solar] photovoltaics systems at residential and commercial sites. We don’t sell the systems to our customers. We own them. So, we are responsible for making sure that they can continue to produce power reliably and affordably for the next twenty-five years.

Our plans are aggressive, to double and triple every year. That gets harder, but we feel confident we can achieve that.

Q: How do you select the products you use in your solar projects?

LR: Our vice president of product focuses on this much more than I do. But our criteria would include longevity and power first, then cost. To an extent, we rely on what manufacturers present to us. If they are adopting new, lower impact or zero impact materials, we will be able to adopt those, too. We look for suppliers who show leadership in terms of R&D, panel technology and more while meeting our basic criteria.

Q: What does working with Wal-Mart mean to your business?

LR: Wal-Mart has many years of success and is known for being financially conscious in every way. Hopefully other brick and mortar retailers will look at their example, and say if Wal-Mart can use solar, we can do it too. The Wal-Mart stores we are working with are large in size. But many of the commercial systems we deliver are 100 to 200 kilowatts, meaning smaller systems. We can almost always save customers money from day one. Or we can at least get them energy at the same price that they would have paid for energy from hydrocarbon, non-renewable, polluting sources.

Q: What will happen to the photovoltaic systems that you install, once they are spent?

LR: We intend to recycle everything we use. We haven’t been doing this yet, as most of our projects have been deployed within the past three to four years and are not yet at the end of their life.

First Solar [one of our suppliers] has an entire recycling program they have implemented to make this kind of thing possible. But the value chain that we address, and the research and development that we focus on is around delivery and financing.

We look at mounting equipment, process automation and building permits, the vehicles we use to run our fleet — we find and do everything we can in the most environmentally responsible way across the board to get solar installed and drive solar adoption. We ask things like: how do we reduce the travel time of our trucks? How do we do more at once during a site visit?

As far as the panel technology, all we can do there is influence. This is a global market, and as it gets bigger we hope we can also be more influential.

Q: You are venture-backed by huge clean tech investors including: Mayfield Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors, Generation Investment Management LLP and Elon Musk. How have they impacted you most?

LR: At the end of 2008, there was this financial crisis. For the first quarter of 2009, if it wasn’t for the additional capital we’d raised we could not have grown. Today we’re doing really well. We’re cash flow positive. We’re hiring in every single area. It’s crazy! We’ve hired over 300 people in the last year. We’re over 760 employees.

Q: Why isn’t the U.S. viewed as a leader in solar today?

LR: The U.S. is not a leader in solar adoption in part because the U.S. is not one market. Germany is a single market. Same with Japan, Italy or France. You are dealing with a single market in each country. But in the U.S. you deal with fifty different markets.

States like California, Arizona and New Jersey have solar programs that vary widely. Other states don’t have anything in the way of a solar subsidy whatsoever. They are all operationally different. The variables make it difficult to achieve the scale you see in other more uniform markets.

Some states are 99% coal-powered, and that power is ultra low-priced. In some places, if you consume more power, if you are less efficient, you actually get a bulk discount. Don’t even get me started on this. It makes no sense. It’s a bonus for being the least efficient and for using one of the more air-polluting sources of energy!

Q: How could the U.S. become more of a solar industry leader?

LR: One way we can become a leader in solar and clean energy in general is to put a tax on carbon. This would drive natural markets to look for the best, and cleanest sources of power, versus the apparently cheapest sources of power.

I look at other manufacturers. When a manufacturer pollutes, say in liquid form, they have to pay, they have fees and disposal requirements. If corporations that “manufacture” energy pollute the air, they must pay for this, take ownership and include it in their costs.

If the U.S. government would make facilities that pollute the air pay for their pollution, that will drive the adoption of clean power.

Q: What else could help the solar industry take off here?

LR: People get fixated on the cost of solar power. The cost of solar power is only half the equation. The cost of financing solar [projects] is the other half of the equation. Actually, financing is probably more important. It’s really important that the cost of capital does not go up for the industry and for consumers.

The federal government should extend cash grants and tax credits for solar [specifically the Payments for Specified Energy Property in Lieu of Tax Credits part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009]. Right now, the treasury department is considering the renewal of this program.

If it does not get extended…the supply of financing for solar projects will be limited which will increase the cost of capital and slow solar adoption.

We have the chance to take leadership in solar adoption here if we keep the programs running a while longer. You extend a cash grant program and you will see us become one of the leaders.