Quick Mount PV doubles its manufacturing production to 1.2 gigawatts

Quick Mount PV

Quick Mount PV, a leading American manufacturer of watertight solar roof mounting and racking systems, is doubling its manufacturing production. The company is adding a second shift for the first time at its Walnut Creek, Calif., manufacturing facility — increasing the company’s annual production capacity to 1.2 gigawatts. The announcement comes on the heels of the announcement of the company’s facility expansion to the East Coast. Quick Mount PV manufactures a full range of solar mounting and racking systems for all roof types with the highest rated waterproofing at their California manufacturing facility.

“Rooftop solar is poised for a big year, and Quick Mount PV is ready to provide its industry-leading racking and mounting to fuel that growth,” said Yann Brandt, Quick Mount PV’s President. “Installers understand that quality racking and mounting is critical to the long-term success of rooftop solar–that recognition is what is powering our expansion. In addition, our training and support help bring down the costs for the consumer.”

Quick Mount says its training and support has provided the company with protection against recent aluminum tariffs and trade war issues. By combining roof ready racking and mounting, with training and support, Quick Mount provides solar installers the ability to install more kilowatts of PV solar faster — mitigating, in part, the increase in aluminum costs.

Quick Mount PV offers a comprehensive suite of seamlessly integrated systems providing everything needed to install PV modules on any roof type. With unsurpassed R&D, engineering, product testing and ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturing in the United States, Quick Mount PV is committed to producing the industry’s most advanced solar mounting and racking systems. The superiority of the company’s mounting products is demonstrated by the fact that more than ten million Quick Mount PV roof attachments have been installed with zero leaks.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower secures funding to bolster its residential solar lease business

sunpower logo

SunPower has secured financing commitments for its residential solar lease program (with Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital and SunStrong Capital Holdings) that will make its financing provisions “more attractive” and will supplement the solar loan and cash sale alternatives currently offered by the company. SunPower has provided solar lease financing options to customers since 2010.

The new fund is structured as a levered tax equity partnership with a multi-party forward purchase commitment, allowing generation of upfront cash margins for residential solar leases. The financing commitments for this new fund are being provided largely from a repeat group of loan and equity providers that continue to have strong long-term relationships with SunPower and Hannon Armstrong.

“SunPower’s strong suite of acquisition options, and our technologically superior solar energy solutions, allows us to continue meeting growing customer demand,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board. “Thanks to our financing partners, who share our clean energy future goals, we’re able to ensure funding to meet the needs of those customers who desire a leasing option.”

Additionally, SunStrong has acquired a residential lease portfolio from Capital Dynamics. This transaction adds to SunStrong’s existing high-quality asset portfolio with the addition of more than 41 MW and 5,100 residential systems.

“This transaction reinforces SunStrong’s belief in the long-term value of owning high quality solar systems and SunPower’s commitment to providing on-going products and services to our customers,” said Werner.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the sole structuring and placement agent for the cash equity and multi-draw term loan, as well as the sole tax equity investor. Additional equity capital was provided by SunPower, Hannon Armstrong and their joint venture SunStrong, which holds equity interests in more than 55,000 residential solar energy systems.

Last year, SunPower’s U.S. residential business saw annual deployment growth of more than 15 percent, bringing the total number of American homes with SunPower solar to over 275,000 consumers.

— Solar Builder magazine

Dynamic Duo: Optimizing the performance of spray polyurethane foam and photovoltaic systems

Rodney Strong Vineyards

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) and PV systems are increasingly paired together as a joint solution for energy savings. With the continued push toward sustainability and growing movements such as zero net energy (ZNE) construction, SPF and PV systems combine to provide a logical solution to generate renewable energy while conserving the energy used in heating and cooling.

Regardless of whether ZNE is the end goal, SPF and PV combined on the roof can be highly beneficial, but proper installation is key. Here are some technical considerations to ensure optimization of these energy solutions.

Rooftop PV Installation types for use with SPF

Rooftop PV systems may be installed on racks or adhered directly to the roof surface through typical means with either ballast or penetrating supports. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages. For example, ballasted racks may block water flow and affect drainage, while penetrations require proper flashings. But, uniquely, SPF easily self-flashes around penetrating supports.

SPF and coating selection

Higher density SPF systems are often preferred with PV because their compressive strength increases as density increases. SPF systems will be stressed during PV installation, however coatings and granules protect them during installation and maintenance. A roof surface below PV panels may dry slower than non-covered portions. Select coatings that withstand standing water and biological growth.Installation and regular maintenance of PV systems can increase foot traffic. Protect trafficked areas with additional coating and granules or walk pads.

Electrical safety

Electricity is produced when a single panel is exposed to light. Workers may inadvertently complete the circuit by connecting the two wires from the backside of a PV panel. Working around PV panels requires some degree of caution.

When maintaining a PV system, disconnection or removal of individual panels from a string or array may eventually be required. Follow proper shutdown procedures provided by the inverter manufacturer as part of a lock-out/tag-out program. SPF contractors should never disconnect or decommission a PV panel or system unless trained for it.

Heat buildup and SPF lifespan

Photovoltaic panels convert approximately 15 to 20 percent of light to electricity and release unconverted energy as heat. The majority of rooftop installations thus encourage airflow under panels to reduce their temperature, improving conversion efficiency and releasing heat effectively. Panels installed 4 to 5 in. above the roof will adequately cool the PV panels, providing surface shade and drying, potentially extending the SPF system lifespan.

Structural load

PV panels add load to a rooftop. A structural engineer should analyze existing structures to determine if their weight and additional wind load is acceptable. Rack-mounted arrays with penetrating attachments are fairly lightweight at 2 to 3 lbs per sq ft, and ballasted arrays add 4 to 6 lbs per sq ft. With the latter, more ballast is utilized at perimeters and corners of a PV array. Thus, localized loading from ballast may reach 12 to 17 lbs per sq ft. Most SPF roofing systems have a compressive strength of 40 to 60 psi.

Additionally, roofs are required by building codes to provide live load capacity that include people, snow and temporary weight-bearing scenarios. Although the weight of PV systems is not significant, live load capacity will decrease by the addition of the PV system.

Other design considerations include increased wind loading and the potential to catch drifting snow, which may add loading to the roof structure.

Equivalent service life

Expected service life of the roof and PV systems must be considered. The labor cost to remove and reinstall a PV system is costly. When installing PV, residual service life and replacement cost of the existing roof should be evaluated. For older roofs, it may be worth replacing the roof system just prior to PV installation. In other cases, when new or replacement roof systems are installed, provisions for future PV systems may be considered (e.g. pre-installation of penetrating supports).

Drainage

PV arrays often have many contact points with a roof which may block or slow drainage. Position PV racking to minimize ponding water and/or include notched pads under contact points of ballasted systems to allow water to move toward drains and scuppers, especially for ballasted systems.

PV system access for maintenance and removal

Roof mounted PV systems should be inspected and maintained at least twice a year. Inspect wiring, attachment points and flashings. Cleaning the top surface of PV panels may be required. Workers need access to both the roof and PV systems. PV systems should not block access to drains, penetrations, flashings, mechanical units or rooftop equipment. PV should be installed so workers can access wiring, inspect panel-to-racking connections and clean top surfaces without stepping on panels.


Power Spray

Rodney Strong Vineyards combines spray foam roofing with solar power

Rodney Strong Vineyards

A major force in wine, Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Healdsburg, Calif., facility includes a barrel storage facility housing 28,000 oak wine barrels for their two-year aging process. The barrels must be stored at a consistent temperature and humidity. These factors, married with the large size of the facility, made it a prime contender for the combination of energy efficient spray foam on the roof (which acts as a thermal, moisture and vapor barrier) and solar power.

“In 2003, when we first installed solar, Rodney Strong Wine Estates became one of the greenest wineries in the world,” says Larry Solomon, facilities manager of Rodney Strong. “In 2018, we replaced and increased our rooftop photovoltaic system and recognized this was an ideal opportunity to insulate our barrel storage warehouses with sprayed polyurethane foam roofing. We expect that the insulated roof will provide substantial energy savings, providing a more consistent temperature for barrel storage while eliminating leaks and essentially providing a new roof that will last for the lifetime of the solar array.”

Central Coating Company installed the new 2-in. spray foam roofing system over the existing metal roof to provide R-13 of continuous insulation. The solar contractor, SolarCraft, installed 5,005 solar standoff penetrations for the 1.5-MW photovoltaic system. In February, Central Coating Company won an Industry Excellence Award for the project. Presented by the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance, the award recognizes the Rodney Strong Vineyards combined roof solution as one of the year’s best-in-class applications of spray polyurethane foam.

Rick Duncan is the technical director of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), the industry’s leading organization representing contractors, material and equipment manufacturers, distributors and industry consultants.

— Solar Builder magazine

DNV GL launches SolarFarmer PV plant modeling software to handle complex terrain

As the demand for solar energy increases, solar plant design are becoming more challenging as the terrain becomes more complex. This will require PV plant design software that can perform more reliable modeling for accurate energy calculations. This makes DNV GL’s new software, SolarFarmer, intriguing. Launched at Intersolar Europe this year, the SolarFarmer software models, designs and analyzes solar PV plants, but is especially aimed at accurately and efficiently handling layouts in increasingly complex terrain.

“It’s exciting to be supporting the PV industry with SolarFarmer,” says Tony Mercer, Head of Department for renewables software at DNV GL. “The software is built from the ground up with scale in mind and brings together layout, energy calculation and automation, giving our customers new and efficient ways to explore and optimize their PV project development,” he says.

SolarFarmer can be used for conceptual and detailed design and analysis for solar PV plants. It combines thoroughly validated PV simulation algorithms with a user-friendly, modern user interface allowing quick configuration of PV plant designs and simulation of PV layouts.

SolarFarmer offers:

• Design and analysis of development of solar PV plants, from conceptual model to detailed solar plant design
• Efficient and traceable method for modelling in complex terrain including our model for submodule electrical mismatch
• Design time savings using automated layout for fixed tilt and trackers
• Thoroughly-validated models for accurate energy production calculations
• Expert modelling; SolarFarmer engineers are working directly with DNV GL experts to improve modelling of components during the design phase, such as modelling for thin-film modules
• Sub-hourly energy assessments – we know as experts that hourly energy assessment can lead to errors e.g. underestimating inverter clipping losses during cloud coverage. SolarFarmer provides sub-hourly energy assessment calculations

— Solar Builder magazine

Q CELLS earns Top Performer recognition in PVEL’s 2019 PV Module Reliability Scorecard

QCELLS award

We reported on the eyebrow raising solar module reliability issues PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) uncovered in its latest PV Module Reliability Scorecard, but we didn’t spotlight which company graded out as the Top Performer. This year’s PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard Top Performer was Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd. one of the largest solar cell and module manufacturers in the world — the fourth year in a row that Q CELLS has been selected for this accolade.

Q CELLS earned the Top Performer recognition with its Q.PEAK DUO series of high-performance monocrystalline half-cell modules. The Q.PEAK DUO series of modules are manufactured using the Company’s patent-protected, unique passivation technology, which is a key ingredient in Q.ANTUM Technology. For better product quality and reliability, Q.ANTUM Technology includes additional cutting-edge technological and security features like excellent Anti-LID (light induced degradation) and Anti-PID (potential induced degradation) performance, as well as Hot-Spot Protect and traceable quality with Tra.QTM, which is Q CELLS’ unique laser identification to protect against counterfeiting.

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Hee Cheul (Charles) Kim, CEO of Q CELLS, said: “We are pleased to announce that we have once again been recognized as a Top Performer by the leading testing lab PVEL. The very DNA of Q CELLS is rooted in German R&D excellence and a desire to consistently deliver top-quality renewable energy products and services. To contribute to the higher customer value and the growth of the global solar industry, Q CELLS will continue to strive towards even greater excellence in product quality and reliability with all our might.”

PVEL is one of the world’s leading reliability and performance testing laboratories in the solar industry. As an independent laboratory, PVEL tests PV modules from leading solar manufacturers annually, and publishes the PV Module Reliability Scorecard based on these test results every year. The PV Module Reliability Scorecard is recognized as one of the most comprehensive publicly available PV module reliability test results comparisons, and the title of Top Performer – that is granted to high-ranked companies – is accepted throughout the industry as a reliable mark of high product quality and reliability.

— Solar Builder magazine