Freedom Solar installs two PV systems for Texas candy company

Freedom Solar

Those sour green apple candies at Alamo Candy Company are getting a lot greener. Freedom Solar Power recently designed and installed two new solar projects for Alamo Candy, one of the largest candy manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers in San Antonio.

Freedom Solar completed a 100.8-kilowatt solar array comprised of 280 panels on the rooftop of Alamo Candy’s popular retail shop at 2738 Blanco Rd. and an 86.4-kilowatt system comprised of 240 panels on the company’s office at 1149 W. Hildebrand Ave.

The retail storefront’s solar array will offset 73 percent of Alamo Candy’s energy needs, and the office’s solar array will offset 100 percent of the building’s energy needs. Each system will pay for itself in roughly five years. Over the 25-year guaranteed lifetime of the systems, Alamo Candy Company will save a combined total of nearly $750K.

Combined, Alamo Candy’s solar arrays will produce 271,606 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year—the equivalent of 70 tons of waste being recycled instead of landfilled or 22,745 gallons of gasoline consumed.

Kyle Frazier, director of sales for Freedom Solar, says: “Alamo Candy has built a name for itself carrying hard-to-find candies that its customers aren’t able to get anywhere else. They have exactly what you’re looking for, no matter how rare it is. This is how Freedom Solar approaches each and every one of its new solar projects— designing the system to fit the customer’s unique needs. We’re also one of the few Central Texas companies that carry SunPower panels.”

Alamo Candy’s solar projects feature 327-watt high-efficiency SunPower solar panels, which are the most efficient available today and unmatched in reliability with an expected useful life of more than 40 years. Freedom Solar is a SunPower Master Dealer, the only company with that distinction in Texas.

“More and more business owners like Alamo Candy Company are looking at their energy needs with a long-term perspective. Solar reduces long-term operating costs and paves the way for businesses to be more profitable and environmentally friendly. Alamo Candy has joined a growing list of visionary companies that have the foresight to plan ahead for the future of their businesses, customers and employees, and our environment,” says Frazier.

Felix and Juana Samame, co-founders, and current president and vice president of Alamo Candy Company, say: “As our veteran-owned family business continues to grow, we are excited to also be a part of the growing energy conservation effort in San Antonio. We strongly believe switching to solar energy, with the help of Freedom Solar, is just one more way we can better serve our customers, employees, and hometown.”

To date, Freedom Solar has completed thousands of residential and commercial installations in Texas for clients including Whole Foods, Tejas Rodeo, and CubeSmart, among others.

— Solar Builder magazine

Here’s why residential solar is down more than expected in Q3 2017

residential solar installation

Despite more than half of U.S states now being at grid parity — meaning the levelized cost of energy is below electricity bill savings in year 1 of system life — the U.S. residential segment posted its lowest solar installation total since the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The residential PV sector fell 10 percent quarter-over-quarter. Declining growth is driven by weakness in California and major Northeast markets, which continue to feel the impact of pull-back from national providers.

The report attributes the slowdown to two key factors: persistent nationwide customer acquisition challenges and a pivot by major solar installers that are pursuing profitable sales channels over growth. This has been particularly acute in mature markets that account for the majority of installation volumes.

Several markets, however, experienced record quarters for the residential solar segment. These include New Mexico, Washington D.C., Virginia and Idaho. Meanwhile, emerging markets, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, are expected to surpass 50 MW of residential capacity for the first time ever this year.

“The year 2017 has been unconventional for solar in the sense that utility and residential PV, which have historically been the market’s major growth segments, are actually expected to decline in 2017,” said GTM Research Solar Analyst Austin Perea. “For utility PV this is largely a function of comparing the record-breaking ITC demand-pull in effect of 2016 to more modest build-out in 2017, while significant customer acquisition issues remain a challenge for residential solar. Conversely, non-residential solar, the smallest and most historically beleaguered sector, is expected to grow in 2017 in large part due to robust community solar build-out and regulatory demand pull-in across major state markets.”

— Solar Builder magazine

7 solar install stats to know from third quarter 2017 report from GTM Research, SEIA

PV installations 2017

In their latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said prices rose due to a tight global supply of modules and uncertainty around the Section 201 trade case now being weighed at the White House. What effect did this have on installations across solar segments? These numbers jumped out at us.

2,031 MW

That’s the number of megawatts of PV installed in the U.S. in the third quarter of the year — the eighth consecutive quarter that the solar industry added more than 2 GW. The capacity additions represent a 51 percent drop year over year.

10 percent.

That’s how much the residential PV sector fell quarter-over-quarter. Declining growth is driven by weakness in California and major Northeast markets, which continue to feel the impact of pull-back from national providers. More on that here.

22 percent.

That’s how much the industry is down compared to this point last year, which is in line with the expected 21% decline for all of 2016 vs all of 2017.

11.8 GWdc.

That’s how much new PV GTM Research estimates will come online in 2017, down 22% from a record-breaking 2016. The forecast has been adjusted downward from 12.4 GW last quarter to reflect continued challenges in the residential market and a push back in utility-scale completion timelines due to uncertainties surrounding the trade case.

22 percent.

Get this: That’s how much non-residential grew year-over-year, installing 481 MW in Q3. Non-residential consists of commercial and industrial businesses that install solar, nonprofits, and community solar programs. California, Massachusetts and New York all posted strong quarters while Minnesota had its largest quarter ever due to its robust community solar program. Nationwide, community solar capacity is on track to grow by more than 50 percent year-over-year.

utility scale solar installation

51 percent.

That was the utility-scale segment’s piece of of the quarter’s installed capacity pie. The utility-scale segment was led by Nevada, North Carolina and Texas. In fact, Texas installed more solar in the third quarter of this year than the state installed in the entirety of 2015. Meanwhile, emerging markets in the Southeast, including Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina all had strong quarters and are forecast to install more solar in 2017 than any year previously.

4 GW.

Encouragingly, that’s how much utility-scale PV is currently under construction across the nation, and GTM Research forecasts an additional 3.9 GW will come on-line by the end of the year. This would make 2017 the second largest year ever for solar installations behind only the record-shattering 2016.

“Looking forward to 2018 and beyond, both Section 201 remedies and corporate tax reform present considerable downside risk to the industry’s base-case forecasts. However, at present, neither issue will be incorporated into GTM Research’s existing outlook until President Trump issues a formal decision on Section 201 trade remedies and the U.S. Congress votes on corporate tax reform legislation.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Largest solar rooftop project in Illinois installed atop IKEA distribution center


The largest solar rooftop project in Illinois is now complete, sitting atop IKEA’s Midwest distribution center in Joliet, Ill. Combined with arrays atop the Chicago-area IKEA stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg, this third project will make IKEA the owner of three of the state’s largest solar rooftop installations.

The distribution center’s 268,920-square-foot solar array consists of a 2.85 MW system, built with 9,036 panels, and will produce approximately 3,377,000 kWh of electricity annually for the facility, the equivalent of reducing 2,513 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 538 cars or providing electricity for 377 homes yearly.

“Investing in sustainable solutions is a vital part of our business model,” said Lars Petersson, IKEA U.S. president. “IKEA aims to create a sustainable life for communities where we are located, and the Joliet distribution center is a shining example of that goal.”

2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year Winners

IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally has allocated $2.5 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2020, reinforcing its confidence and investment in solar photovoltaic technology. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 300 wind turbines, including 104 in the U.S. – 49 of which are in Hoopeston, IL.

Under construction on 72 acres at the Laraway Crossings Business Park, the future 1.25-million-square-foot distribution center in Joliet will enhance the IKEA distribution network with a central location allowing goods to be received at coastal ports from both Asia and Europe and then transported inland to the Joliet facility. The proximity to a nearby railroad intermodal will represent additional long-term transportation options too. IKEA is also planning another, similarly-sized facility on 62 acres adjacent to the one currently being built. (The timing for construction of the second building remains to be determined).

— Solar Builder magazine

JA Solar sets new wattage record for 60-cell mono-Si PV module

JA Solar

JA Solar Holdings Co. says the output power of its 60-cell PV modules assembled by mono-Si PERC cells has exceeded now 325 W. The actual output power clocked in at 326.67 W as measured and certified by TUV SUD. Buy that measure, this sets a new world record for 60-cell mono-Si PV modules.

PERC technology has increasingly become the mainstream approach for high-performance PV products in the past few years. According to SEMI PVITR, PERC products will account for 40% of total product shipments by 2020. The advance of PERC technology as well as the wide adoption of the technology has significantly impacted on the solar powered energy generation in terms the reduction of levelized cost of energy and grid parity. Currently, the average power output of the 60-cell PV modules assembled with mono-Si PERC cells JA Solar offers is 300 W.

PV Pointers: Silicon heterojunction solar cell technology moves beyond the lab

As one of the largest PV product manufacturers in the world, JA Solar has been instrumental in developing advanced PV technologies through invention and innovation. Some history:

  • In 2010, the company filed an invention application for its industrial PERC cell structure and the method of production, the patent was granted by the Patent and Trade Mark Office of Chinese National Bureau of Intellectual Properties in 2012.
  • In 2013, JA Solar was the first company to break the 20% conversion-efficiency barrier for the industrial version of PERC solar cells using screen-printing metallization process, and started mass production of PERC-based cells and modules in the following year. JA Solar also holds the intellectual property rights for bifacial PERC cells with a Chinese patent granted by the National Bureau of Intellectual Properties of China in 2016.
  • In 2016, JA Solar provided 422MW PV modules with 40% of them being mono-Si PERC for the first 1GW demonstration phase of this “Front Runner” initiative as the largest module supplier in the project.

“Setting a new world record of over 325W output power from a 60-cell mono-Si PV module is remarkable achievement enabled by PERC technology,” said Dr. Wei Shan, Chief Technology Officer of JA Solar. “It is also a testament of the unrivaled efforts at JA Solar that focus on developing high-efficiency, cost-effective PV products meet the ever increased demand for clean energy through technological innovation and continuous performance improvement, as well as the commitment and the tradition of JA Solar to provide our customers high-performance PV products with high quality and reliability.”

— Solar Builder magazine