Watch: Solar Optimum adds 780-kW SunPower system across Laguna Woods Village

SunPower Elite Dealer Solar Optimum is helping Orange County’s premier senior living community Laguna Woods Village embrace energy efficiency by installing an aggregate total of approximately 780 kW DC, producing 1,337,333 kWH, offsetting the common area load that the community was paying high Southern California Edison electricity bills for. This “Best in Class” project is the largest SunPower Helix project interconnected in the west coast in 2017.

The project consists of 12 buildings which were occupied while the work was performed and Solar Optimum used the SunPower Helix dual tilt PV solar system, which notably is the highest density solar system on the market today. The cutting-edge technology sped up the process and Solar Optimum’s rigorous safety measures made it possible to install while tenants occupied the facilities.

This was the most complicated virtual net metering project ever processed by Southern California Edison with over 550 benefiting meters offset by 800 kW on 12 sites. A typical virtual net metering project has a mere 10 to 20 meters with just one rather than 12 connection points. Southern California Edison requires meters to be lined up with parcels. “With such a large project, it was like a Rubik’s cube lining it all up. All sides are green now,” exclaims Gene Okun, Solar Optimum’s commercial project manager.

“Our goal was to get the project installed to meet the looming net metering 1.0 deadline, when rates on solar energy credit would rise and cost the community an additional $15,000 per month in meter fees,” says Gene Okun. “Solar Optimum and SunPower managed the deadline successfully, despite the size and complexity of the project. We are pleased with the results.”

The Solar Optimum team had to tackle the small sizes of the host buildings which made power density critical. “We were originally planning for 16 buildings as host sites, but the SunPower Helix system made it possible for us to get all that power in 12 buildings,” says Bill McNeese, director of business development at Solar Optimum. “This gave us the competitive advantage, reducing the number of roofs needing to be replaced by the community. When the cost-benefit analysis was complete, the board unanimously selected Solar Optimum and SunPower Helix.”

“We realized that Laguna Woods Village had other very competitive proposals but were confident in our ability to deliver the project within the tight timeframe despite its complexities and engineering challenges,” says Gene Okun. “With the success of Laguna Woods Village, we look forward to expanding our commercial portfolio and taking on new challenges in the Southern California market.”

— Solar Builder magazine

EnerBank to offer ‘PowerLoans’ to lower solar install payments for homeowners

solar loan

Need some new financing options for your customers? EnerBank USA introduced its 12 and 20-Year PowerLoan with an optional re-amortization feature for Solar PV projects. Annual percentage rates (APRs) for 12-Year PowerLoan is 1.99%, 2.99%, and 3.99%; 20-Year PowerLoan APRs are 4.99% and 5.99%. Minimum and maximum loan amounts are $15,000 and $65,000, respectively, on approved credit.

“We want to make it easier for contractors to sell solar PV panels,” said Charlie Knadler, president and CEO of EnerBank. “These loans give homeowners even more flexibility in how they can finance their solar projects by providing monthly loan payments that are comparable to their monthly electric utility bills.”

Who is EnerBank?

For over 15 years, EnerBank USA has helped home improvement contractors grow their businesses and enabled homeowners to achieve their remodeling dreams. Through mobile, online and phone application choices, homeowners get a credit decision in minutes, making for higher close rates, and bigger jobs for contractors. Homeowners enjoy Same-As-Cash loans and low interest, low monthly payment loans, while contractors improve their bottom line. EnerBank USA is a fair housing lender and makes loans without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status. Visit  for more information.

What is a PowerLoan?

These new loans are specifically for homeowners who want to use their solar tax credit to pay off a portion of the principal amount—in a lump sum within the first 18 months of their loan—to lower their monthly payments while retaining the loan’s original interest rate and terms.

To re-amortize their PowerLoan, homeowners simply request a re-amortization of their loan online at enerbank.com after making a minimum lump sum payment equal to at least 15% of the original loan amount. There is a modest $150 fee to be paid by borrowers to re-amortize their loan.

“Keeping consumers’ monthly payments low and giving them the flexibility to use their tax incentives how they choose will help the solar industry continue to increase sales to consumers,” Knadler said. “A flex loan option, paying contractors up to 50% of the project’s loan upfront, is also available to help improve a contractor’s cash flow. That’s why we’re excited to be providing this new loan option to solar contractors.”

During the current slight slowdown in rooftop solar PV sales in the United States, according to industry reports, solar contractors who offer a choice of payment options are more likely to close more sales in a competitive market. In addition to the new PowerLoan, EnerBank offers a variety of other solar loans such as Same-As-Cash and low interest loans with fixed monthly payments. The bank’s innovative Combo Loan continues to be a very popular option.

 

— Solar Builder magazine

GCL showcased black silicon, PERC and diamond wiring PV modules at SPI

GCL-booth-at-SPI

GCL-SI attended Solar Power International Exhibition (GCL System)

GCL System Integration Technology, a subsidiary of GCL, has been developing solar modules that utilize new technologies, specifically black silicon, PERC and diamond wiring. At SPI, the company showcased its latest products, including the Black Silicon 5 Busbar (5BB), Multi-Busbar (MBB) and Double-glass modules. The solar modules with these new technologies are all in a 72-cell format in each configuration.

“To differentiate from other solar energy companies, GCL-SI is able to provide high performance modules at a competitive price to the U.S. market due to the great advantage from integrated industrial chain of the GCL group,” explains Dong Shuguang, Executive President. “GCL-SI also offers design, product, service, finance, and operations as a whole.”

He further described that after their opening of a factory in Vietnam, the company is now able to provide 600 MW high-efficiency PERC modules to meet the requirements of the American market.

GCL-SI’s black silicon and PERC solar modules are based on multi-crystalline silicon. Dong adds that GCL-SI will maintain its focus on developing modules using multi-crystalline silicon, while continually researching more innovative ways to integrate black silicon, PERC and diamond wiring. The results will lead to lower costs and increase the efficiency of solar modules. If people are able to harness the full potential of the multi-crystalline material, that would ultimately contribute to broader adoption of solar energy by lowering the LCOE.

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

— Solar Builder magazine

Goldman Sachs to buy $300 million home solar loans from Mosaic

Mosaic solar financing

Goldman Sachs Bank and Mosaic, a provider of home solar financing solutions, have announced a purchase commitment in which GS Bank will buy $300 million in home solar loans originated by Mosaic. The commitment increases Mosaic’s available future loan funding commitments from banks and credit unions to $800 million. This is in addition to $650 million of committed borrowing capacity provided by Mosaic’s existing warehouse partners.

Mosaic makes financing solar energy systems accessible and affordable for homeowners by providing the simplest borrower experience in the industry. Mosaic has originated over $1 billion of loans to date. Customers are connected to top solar installers and can qualify instantly for no money down loans with fixed interest rates and multiple term options. For solar installers, Mosaic provides a streamlined financing platform to drive sales growth. Since 2012, Mosaic has helped over tens of thousands people go solar with a network of over 125 installers.

— Solar Builder magazine

Department of Energy boosts Sunshot funding by $82M after already hitting 2020 cost target

solar sunshot funding

I hope it’s not morbid timing that all of these positive solar reports are coming out right before the Section trade case decision. NREL noted more sharp system cost declines in 2017, and now the U.S. Department of Energy says solar’s 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the SunShot Initiative has already been reached thanks largely to the rapid cost declines in solar photovoltaic (PV) hardware. The average price of utility-scale solar is now 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Given this success, DOE is looking beyond SunShot’s 2020 goals with an expanded 2030 vision for the Solar Energy Technologies Office. Specifically, while DOE will continue research to drive down costs, new funding programs will focus on a broader scope of Administration priorities, which includes early-stage research to address solar energy’s critical challenges of grid reliability, resilience, and storage.

“With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges,” said Daniel Simmons, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “As we look to the future, DOE will focus new solar R&D on the Secretary’s priorities, which include strengthening the reliability and resilience of the electric grid while integrating solar energy.”

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

DOE announces up to $82 million in early-stage research in two areas:

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): Up to $62 million will support advances in CSP technologies to enable on-demand solar energy. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a focused point where it is collected and converted into heat. This thermal energy can be stored and used to produce electricity when the sun is not shining or integrated into other applications, such as producing fresh water or supplying process heat.

• Power Electronics: Up to $20 million is dedicated to early-stage projects to advance power electronics technologies. Such innovations are fundamental to solar PV as the critical link between PV arrays and the electric grid. Advances in power electronics will help grid operators rapidly detect problems and respond, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities, and enable consumers to manage electricity use.

Awardees will be required to contribute 20 percent of the funds to their overall project budget, yielding total public and private spending of nearly $100 million. The funds provided are not grants, but cooperative agreements, which involve substantial federal oversight and consist of go/no-go technical milestones that ensure attentive stewardship of projects.

— Solar Builder magazine