Moss Solar partners with SunPower to build 10 MW project in Oklahoma

sunpower logo

Moss Solar, a division of Moss & Associates, has been selected by SunPower  to construct the 10-megawatt (AC) Covington Solar photovoltaic power plant in Covington, Okla. Construction on the project starts this month. It is Moss Solar’s first project in the state.

At the site, Moss will install the SunPower Oasis Power Plant platform with SunPower P-Series solar panels. Moss is currently completing construction on the 57-megawatt Gala Solar Plant in Oregon, which also utilizes SunPower Oasis Power Plant technology.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to work with SunPower installing its revolutionary Oasis Power Plant tracker system,” said Moss’ Executive Vice President Mike Little. “This system dramatically simplifies the engineering and construction of solar plants. SunPower has optimized every component of the power plant, reducing not only the component costs, but also construction installation costs.”

Covington Solar is anticipated to generate enough electricity to serve the needs of more than 1,000 average homes, based on estimates provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association. The plant will serve the customers of OGE Energy Corp.’s electric utility subsidiary Oklahoma Gas & Electric Compa-ny.

This is Moss Solar’s 17th project with SunPower. Moss has been involved in over 1,680 MW of solar projects across North America.

Moss is a national privately held construction firm with nine regional offices across the United States, The company focuses on construction management at-risk, design-build, and public-private partnerships. The company’s diverse portfolio encompasses a wide range of sectors, including luxury high-rise residential, landmark mixed-use developments, hospitality, primary and higher education, justice and solar energy.

— Solar Builder magazine

HelioPower emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy

heliopower

HelioPower Inc., a provider of integrated energy solutions, successfully completed its corporate and financial reorganization, under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, substantially deleveraging the company’s ongoing business and stabilizing the financial health of the business.

“This is a significant day for HelioPower,” said Mo Rousso, President and Founder of HelioPower, “We’ve accomplished a complex restructuring in a very short time period and with our strengthened financial flexibility, we will now focus on our industry leading capabilities by providing integrated energy solutions to homeowners and businesses alike.”

HelioPower filed its Chapter 11 petition less than 4 months ago, on April 25, 2017. The U.S Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada approved HelioPower’s Plan of Reorganization on August 16 and, with all conditions having been met, HelioPower is cleared to emerge from Chapter 11.

“It is with deep satisfaction that we close this challenging chapter of HelioPower’s story, emerging from bankruptcy as a stronger company.” Mo continued, “We thank our creditors for working with us to make this new beginning possible, as well as our employees, our customers, our suppliers and our advisers. We look forward to returning to focus on providing high quality integrated energy solutions to our customers.”

HelioPower helps its clients reduce energy costs and develop energy assets by leveraging renewable energy production, demand side management, and return on investment strategies for clients in the U.S. and abroad.

— Solar Builder magazine

How one PV module manufacturer wants to meet the needs of homeowners

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells to reduce power loss as well as achieve an all-black look.

For all of the intrinsic value of solar, selling it on a wide-scale to homeowners might depend more on stuff like emotional appeal and aesthetics. This is driving the influx of black PV panels coming onto the market. LG’s NeON series comes in black. Panasonic just released all-black versions of its popular HIT panels (as we noted last issue). And so on.

A new entrant into this space is Solaria, a technology company that has been developing its technology over the last decade to commercialize a breakthrough product for the industry. As Chinese panels continued to drive down prices in utility-scale projects, that market became less of a focus.

Looking at the market, Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma thinks residential installs are the next big opportunity for high-efficiency, aesthetically pleasing panels that have residential applications in mind from the start.
“If you look at the Chinese model of panels where you basically make two different sizes that you stuff into different channels, that worked when the market was small, but now the market deserves its own product and focus.”

Solaria took its core technology – solar cell cutting, handling assembly and automation and configured a module and design to do two things:

“Produce significantly more power than a standard solar panel using the same bill of materials and, just as importantly, provide a much better looking panel,” he says. “With the industry maturing, those attributes will become more important. We want to break through from the early adopters in the mass market.”

Right now, Solaria’s residential solar capacity is still on the smaller side. Between its line in Fremont, Calif., and its line in South Korea, Solaria is working on adding additional capacity to meet growing demand.

Inside the Design

Conveniently, Solaria’s strategy for designing an efficient panel naturally created a sleek-looking product. The Solaria formula in a nutshell is to cut solar cells (mono PERC) into five strips and then overlap each of them instead of interconnecting them with traditional ribbon wire. The cell architecture of a traditional module leaves dead space between each cell, whereas this overlapping structure creates a uniform, continuous string of strips as well as the aesthetic bonus of covering up the typically visible busbars.

“All of the active areas of a cell are exposed. Busbars on a typical module shade about 3 to 4 percent of the module and cell, so we eliminate that through the overlap mechanism,” he says. “By creating a direct contact between one cell and another, we get better electrical performance because we don’t have the traditional losses associated with ribbon wires.”

Why high-efficiency modules are the best value for installers, homeowners

Part of the value from increasing system efficiency within the module architecture itself — and wiring in a combination of parallel and series — is also reducing the need for efficiency-boosting or shade-mitigating MLPEs. You may still want to incorporate optimizers in certain applications, but the need is reduced.

Add all of that up, Sharma says a Solaria panel (60-cell, 330 Wp) should be expected to produce 15 to 20 percent higher power than conventional panels using the same cells and materials to pair with that all-black appearance. The price point for Solaria is higher than a conventional Chinese panel, but priced below a high-efficiency SunPower back-contact panel.

Looking Ahead

Beyond improved aesthetics, simplicity is another big factor in the residential market. For that reason, Sharma wants to put Solaria on the path toward smart AC modules.

“How does solar become truly mainstream? The installation of the system needs to be simplified more and more. Plus, it’s a complex sell. The broader we can make the installer base, where more electricians get into it, the bigger it’s going to grow. We want to simplify the installation and that’s where we see the opportunity for integrated AC modules.”

Be on the lookout for more news on that front from Solaria as it tests out concepts with various microinverter manufacturers until it feels comfortable enough to offer an integrated product and stand behind the warranty.

Why Mono PERC?

Key to Solaria’s solution is the mono PERC cell. CEO Suvi Sharma explains his reasoning behind that choice.

“You typically get about 1 percent absolute improved power today from a standard mono cell, but the roadmap to improve that power is better with mono PERC,” Suvi says. “There are more dials to play with in terms of efficiency. Not only does mono PERC have higher power than a traditional mono cell, but the difference is going to grow over time. Could become 2 percent absolute over the next 18 months.”

“One issue with PERC is its light-induced degradation [LID]. The PERC manufacturers have worked on that a lot over the last 18 months. The LID is similar to mono cells now. Sometimes in multi PERC there tends to be more LID.”

“Mono PERC is growing in market share because it’s an add-on. If you already have an investment in a mono cell line, you can leverage it for mono PERC as opposed to new cell contents like heterojunction and bifacial, which require a fundamentally new investment in equipment. We believe that within three years probably, all mono cell capacity is going to be converted to mono PERC.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Home Depot to add rooftop solar systems to 50 store locations

home depot solar

The Home Depot will be adding PV systems at 50 of its stores as part of a continued alternative energy portfolio expansion. The average store roof, at approximately 104,000 square feet, will accommodate 1,000 panels, and the project is estimated to reduce electricity grid demand by 30 to 35 percent annually at each Home Depot store.

The Home Depot is working with Current, powered by GE, on 20 solar installations at stores in New Jersey, as well as eight stores in Connecticut, Maryland and Washington, DC. An additional 22 stores in California and New York will receive solar, of which six will utilize Tesla Power-packs to store energy and dispatch additional power as needed.

“Our alternative energy projects are important elements of our sustainability and operations ef-forts as they reduce carbon emissions while also lowering our energy costs,” said David Hawkins, vice president of labor and operations for The Home Depot.

Urban Planning: Commercial rooftops are biggest void, opportunity in solar

The company’s current alternative and renewable portfolio includes:

• Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in Delaware and Massachusetts
• Fuel cells at more than 170 stores and distribution centers
• The Los Mirasoles Wind Farm northeast of McAllen, Texas, announced this Janu-ary
• The Zopiloapan Wind Farm located in central Mexico, added this June

The solar addition will bring the company’s alternative energy footprint to more than 130 mega-watts (MW) as it pursues the goal of utilizing 135 MW of alternative and renewable energy by 2020. Construction on the selected stores will continue throughout 2017.

— Solar Builder magazine

Lowe’s Canada launches solar installation services for homeowners

solar brokers canada

Solar Brokers Canada, a large residential solar provider in Canada, its affiliate Green Lion Eco Group, a solar engineering and project management company, and Lowe’s Canada, which operates more than 600 stores in Canada under different banners, have come together to form Lowe’s Solar, an exclusive partnership to provide solar energy installation services to homeowners throughout the province of Ontario, Canada.

After the completion of a successful pilot program in select Lowe’s stores in the Toronto area, Ontario customers now have the opportunity to meet with trained solar consultants at all Lowe’s retail locations across the province to review feasibility scenarios for their home, learn about available Ontario government incentives and how solar energy can make their lives better, all while helping reduce their environmental footprint. These solar consultations will be facilitated using interactive digital display kiosks that provide insight into a solar installation.

“This initiative with our partners from Lowe’s Canada is a natural fit. Efficient renewable energy technologies are the next step and an integral part of sustainable home improvements,” said J.C. Awwad, Chief Executive Officer at Solar Brokers Canada. “We are confident that this partnership will make top quality solar solutions accessible to many more homeowners throughout the province.”

“Solar energy is increasingly important in Ontario. Through this partnership with Solar Brokers Canada, Lowe’s is now in a unique position to provide a simple one-stop solution for Ontario customers looking for renewable energy solutions and convenient in-home installation options while also adding value to their homes,” said Malcolm Parks, Divisional Vice President, Operations at Lowe’s in Canada.

This exclusive partnership expands Solar Brokers Canada’s market reach across Ontario, while also supporting Lowe’s Canada’s efforts to help its customers reduce the environmental impact of their home renovation and construction projects.

To date, Solar Brokers Canada has brokered over 30 megawatts of residential solar in Ontario.

— Solar Builder magazine