Blockbuster New Jersey solar bill raises RPS to 50 percent by 2030, enables community solar

New Jersey solar bill

And this time, they mean it

Surrounded by solar industry and advocates, N.J. Governor Phil Murphy signed a historic bill that will stabilize the solar market through 2021 by (deep breath)

  • increasing the solar target,
  • losing the current solar renewable energy credit trading program in an orderly way,
  • reducing the overall cost of the current solar Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by lowering the Solar Alternative Compliance Payment, and
  • setting in motion a process for establishing the next generation of solar programs in the Garden State.

The bill also increases the overall RPS to 50 percent by 2030 and creates a community solar program. The Garden State will become the 18th state to enable community solar, which if properly implemented by the Board of Public Utilities will ensure that all New Jerseyans have access to solar energy. The community solar program will give consideration to residential customers, especially in multifamily buildings, and low-to-moderate income customers.

RELATED: Attack the Tariff launches in June to highlight solar industry ideas, innovations

Following are statements from solar advocates and industry representatives:

“It has never been more important for leaders to stand up for clean energy jobs, local investments, and clean air and climate progress in our communities. We are encouraged that in the face of rollbacks in Washington, Governor Murphy is stepping up with bold action,” said Pari Kasotia, Mid-Atlantic Director for Vote Solar. “Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support solar progress. We urge lawmakers to look to New Jersey’s leadership to spur the clean energy economy.”

“The solar industry appreciates Gov. Murphy’s leadership,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “By signing this bill into law, many more New Jersey residents, businesses and communities will have access to solar energy. This is a huge win for customers, will support the thousands of solar jobs in the Garden State, and puts the state on track to meeting its ambitious clean energy goals.”

“The New Jersey legislature and Governor Murphy should be applauded for passing community solar legislation and recognizing the increased consumer demand for solar energy. If properly implemented, this legislation will create access to solar energy for consumers and businesses across New Jersey for the first time,” said Brandon Smithwood, policy director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “We look forward to working with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to create a robust program that enables hundreds of thousands of consumers across the state to choose community solar and save money on their electric bills.”

“Thanks to this important legislation, New Jersey residents who rent, live in apartments, or can’t afford the upfront cost to install solar panels will now be better able to get their power from the sun,” said Luis Torres, senior legislative representative for Earthjustice. “We look forward to working with our coalition partners to ensure that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities heeds the call of this law by promoting robust participation from low and moderate income customers in community solar projects.”

“Today Governor Murphy is empowering New Jersey residents to create, store, and share clean solar power with their neighbors, making the electric grid stronger and more resilient,” said Anne Hoskins, chief policy officer for Sunrun. “With the Governor’s leadership, New Jersey will be better prepared for future storms, grow good-quality energy jobs for the state, and build a more consumer-centered energy system with home-grown, affordable power that will benefit everyone.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Soltec to open world’s first bifacial solar tracking evaluation center

Soltec's bifacial single axis trackers

Soltec, a leading manufacturer and supplier of horizontal single-axis solar trackers, is opening a new research and evaluation center in the city of Livermore, California, where the company has its U. S. headquarters. The inauguration will take place July 9, just before Intersolar, and your intrepid Solar Builder will be on hand to report back. Soltec is leveraging its expertise and standard product compatibility with bifacial tracking that stems from the landmark 2015 customer test-bed success of utility-scale bifacial tracking at La Silla, high in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

The mission of Soltec’s Bifacial Tracking Evaluation Center (BiTEC) is to perform rigorous assessment of installation and control parameter influences on bifacial tracking performance compared to other bifacial PV applications. Soltec is investigating some specific factors that are known to influence production, such as module mounting height above grade, rear-side obstructions that cause shading and losses, and varying inter-row spacing distances to measure the effect on albedo.

RELATED: Soltec shows 200 percent growth in 2017, ranks third globally in solar trackers

“Some variables, such as diffuse irradiance or module mounting height, which are often considered of minor importance in standard module applications, can have a much more significant influence in bifacial applications in order to maximize yield,” says Javier Guerrero Ph.D., Soltec’s R&D Manager USA, who oversees the BiTEC project. “With BiTEC, we aim to quantify bifacial yield-gain opportunities that our standard product enables uniquely, and furthermore optimize a bifacial tracking algorithm via comprehensive tracker positioning control to make the most of those opportunities.”

Soltec and BiTEC count on the collaboration of the U. S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to assist primarily in the application of simulation models. Soltec is also collaborating with Engineering powerhouse Black & Veatch and world renown Certification and Bankability Laboratory, The Renewable Energy Test Center (RETC), to utilize the BiTEC resources in their joint Bifacial Characterization and Ranking Initiative in order to assess the performance gains and validate the performance models on bifacial modules from global module manufacturers.

“We endorse collaborative learning and knowledge sharing with the goal of increasing the success of our customers with our agile and yield-dense tracker application. Soltec is receptive to partnering with PV industry entities to take advantage of the BiTEC installation whereby those entities will not need to set up their own bifacial testbeds,” announced Soltec CEO Raúl Morales.

— Solar Builder magazine

Panasonic now offering beefed up battery for residential solar + storage (17.1 kWh of capacity)

pika solar storage

Panasonic Eco Solutions of North America sent word of a significant upgrade to the Harbor Smart Battery portfolio with the Harbor Plus Smart Battery, which now clocks in as the solar industry’s most powerful and efficient smart battery with 17.1 kilowatt hours (kWh) of capacity and real power output of up to 10 kilowatts (kW). Additionally, the Harbor Plus Smart Battery now delivers 21 percent more energy and 30 percent more peak power than the next leading home smart-battery solution, enabling homeowners to extend solar power longevity, better manage energy around peak-rate periods and withstand off-grid scenarios at a more cost-effective price per kWh of storage.

Panasonic and Pika Energy first co-developed the Harbor portfolio of residential smart batteries in 2017, and less than a year later, the companies are introducing upgraded capacity with the premium Harbor Plus as well as the entry-level Harbor Flex to deploy more power, efficiency and capability than any other solar smart batteries available on the market.

“The solar industry faces the reality of certain maximum energy density, pushing the market to deliver innovative and disruptive solar solutions to a quickly growing consumer base,” said Dan Silver, vice president, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. “We are excited to once again partner with Pika Energy to deliver an industry-leading solution in the Harbor Plus Smart Battery, outpacing competitors to expand solar power capacity and capability, ultimately providing customers with freedom from grid dependence.”

The solar-ready Harbor Plus Smart Battery is powered by six Panasonic Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery modules connected in series for built-in redundancy. This robust design coupled with 17.1 kWh of usable energy and up to 10 kW of power can support homeowners for long-term grid outage and off-grid scenarios, and can also power heavy equipment such as well pumps and air conditioning units.

Paired with the Pika Energy Island, the Harbor Plus Smart Battery offers solar system owners enhanced and expanded features, including:

  • Self-supply Mode, which maximizes self-consumption of stored energy captured by solar panels – such as Panasonic solar modules HIT – to reduce the home’s dependence on the grid
  • Zero-export Mode, a subset of self-supply mode that prevents any solar energy from transferring to the grid, enabling homeowners to reduce grid dependence as well as remain in compliance in states where exporting solar power to the grid is prohibited, like Hawaii
  • Time-of-Use Capability, helping homeowners who live in areas with time-of-use rate policies, such as California, efficiently manage solar power and reduce costs with an optimized schedule that reduces or eliminates grid use during peak-rate periods
  • Clean-backup Mode, which stores clean solar energy in the smart battery for use when the grid is disrupted. Load transfer is instantaneous, taking as little as 1/60th of a second.
  • Priority-backup Mode, which charges the smart battery from the grid at the full capacity of the system, allowing homeowners to prepare for an expected grid outage such as in the event of an impending storm
  • Dark-start Capability, with the ability for Pika smart batteries to commission without the grid and restart using only solar power should the batteries exhaust their reserve energy; as compared to other solar storage systems that require on-site service from a technician to jump-start dead batteries.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar panel recycling market to hit $270 million by 2023

solar panel recycling

According to the market research report published by P&S Market Research, global solar panel recycling market is projected to reach $269.8 million by 2023, increasing support of the government toward sustainable development and growing adoption of solar power as a renewable source of energy are the major factors driving the growth of the market. Solar panel recycling is the processing of photovoltaic (PV) systems or panels to obtain their constituent parts, which can be reused in the manufacturing of other products.

In terms of value, mechanical process held the largest share in the solar panel recycling market during the historical period and is estimated to contribute more than 55.0% share to the market in 2017. This can be attributed to the fact that the process is highly efficient and environmentally safe.

During the forecast period, thin-film PV recycling is expected to be the fastest-growing category in the solar panel recycling market, with a CAGR of 29.7 percent in value terms. The advantageous properties of thin-film solar panels, such as flexibility, light weight, and temperature resistance, are expected to drive their recycling market in the coming years.

In terms of revenue, the early-loss shelf life category of solar panels is estimated to contribute more than 80.0% share to the solar panel recycling market in 2017. This can be attributed to the increased use of these panels for recycling purposes due to factors such as exposure to harsh weather conditions and lack of routine maintenance.
During the forecast period, the solar panel recycling market is projected to witness the fastest growth in terms of value in APAC. Growing environment sustainability concerns and cost advantage of solar panel recycling in emerging economies, such as China and India, are expected to foster the market growth in APAC in the coming years.

The average lifespan of solar panels is 30 years, but some may suffer an early loss, resulting in a large amount of e-waste generation containing environmentally harmful substances. Thus, the recycling of these solar panels becomes important, as it helps in maintaining the ecological balance and reducing the emission of various hazardous substances into the atmosphere. The above-mentioned factors indicate that the increasing popularity of solar energy as a renewable power source is driving the growth of the solar panel recycling market.

— Solar Builder magazine

Aw Snap: We look at the Solar Raceway wire management solution

solar raceway

Fresh eyes are valuable every now and then. That was the position New York Manufacturing found itself in when it was approached by a large building products company to assist with its wire management needs. Their solar installations were continually plagued by one common theme: wire management. Like many other solar companies before them, their only choice was to manage wire using PVC cable trays or an extremely labor intensive EMT conduit. PVC can become brittle in a strong UV environment and it’s also a liability in fire prevention scenarios. Surely there was something better.

New York Manufacturing actively sought out feedback from dozens of solar installers, electricians and roofing experts. Based on the industry’s input, the company started to piece together a solution. The number one feature sought out was the ability to have an open tray, drop-in system. While electricians and installers love their job, they do not enjoy the hurdles of pulling wires. Electricians also expressed a need to armor wires from damage whether it be physical, weather or pesky rodents.

The result of these conversations was, Solar Raceway, has grown to become a complete wire management solution for the solar industry. Let’s look and see how it addresses the issues.

Pop the top off

So, something tough that both protects wires and doesn’t require wire pulling. It sounds like a bad riddle but after seeing Solar Raceway, the solution seems obvious.

The material choice was easy. To hold up in the wide variety of environments and elements that PV systems are exposed to, anodized aluminum extrusion was the best choice — a material with a high salt rating that is light weight and recyclable that will last years past the life expectancy of the modules themselves.

With Solar Raceway, the only bill of material items needed are the base, the bottom tray and the cover. Each component is designed to snap and lock into each other. Once the base is attached you would then snap the bottom tray into position. Now it’s time to drop your wires in and snap the top cover in place. Done.

The closed system is secure, while offering protection from the elements and rodents, but the top can be quickly removed for maintenance access. Picture an installer snapping in the trays, laying out the wiring of the entire system, testing everything and then snapping in the covers as a final step. Even if you don’t wait until the end, or find a connector issue down the road, the covers can be popped off to address any issues.

Versatility is another key benefit of the system. “We wanted it to be designed so that it can go up a wall vertically,” says Sal Anselmo, president of Solar Raceway. “We have a slot within the raceway in which the supplied wire retainer clips can be located, so you can take it from the roof, go off a rise area and continue, even install it upside down.”

The tough exterior doesn’t mean rigidity. Chad Carta, COO of Solar Raceway, says the Raceway comes in three sizes (1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 in.), two lengths (8 and 12 ft) and is agnostic to racking and module selection. So, there are many options in terms of layout. The size will depend on how you are using the raceway and what fill ratio will be needed. The 1.5-in. size was launched this year and came about due to a demand from smaller arrays and cross-between. On the other end, if you need 5 in. of diameter, two systems can be run side by side to accommodate that need.

“Some installers use it as a pure conduit replacement because they are tired of pulling wires and run it all the way down the back of the array,” Carta says. “Or some use a larger size and run perpendicular to the array where all of the wires that clipped on the backside of the panel feed to one central tray that will run back to the inverter.”

The Solar Raceway is already moving beyond rooftops. One no-brainer segment is carports if for no other reason than the aesthetics and how easy it is to install upside down. But it’s also finding a home in ground-mount systems.

“We’ve been surprised by the interest in ground mount applications,” Carta says. “These are projects that need to meet certain codes depending on the state or village, and they don’t like hanging wires or leaving them unprotected. This system protects the wires, so they don’t have to put a fence around the site. We were able to reduce the wire management for a large ground-mount system by 50 percent — run right down the middle, tied in with the rubber grommets and then just a short lead from the J-boxes.”

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine