Residential Rooftop Report: Heat up your solar install sales in 2019 (free report download)

roof top report

The Residential Rooftop Report for the first quarter of 2019 is now available for download. The theme is “Heating Up Sales,” and we’ve teamed up with report sponsor Aurora Solar to examine ways for residential solar installation companies to lower customer acquisition costs, close more leads and overall run a more streamlined, efficient local solar business. Just fill out the form below to access your free report.

Contents

  • Inside Sales: We take a journey down the residential solar sales funnel.
  • Design Intervention: How to save $850 per install with remote solar site assessments.
  • 3 Tactics for better solar designs under TOU rates.
  • Changing Change Orders: Tackle solar’s dirty little secret and reduce your number of change orders.
  • NEC 2017 Tips: Manufacturers explain how to best meet the new code.


















— Solar Builder magazine

TE Connectivity launches new terminal blocks for large-scale, high-voltage solar plants

TE Connectivity

TE Connectivity’s new TE ENTRELEC PI-Spring range of terminal blocks ZK-PV is dedicated to large commercial and utility-scale photovoltaic installations. The ZK-PV range of terminal blocks makes connecting photovoltaic systems quicker and more reliable. The smart two-in-one connection gives installers more flexibility, real time savings and higher quality results.

The PI-Spring range have voltage of 1500V DC (IEC) / 1000V DC (UL), complementing the existing 1500 V offering including DBL distribution blocks and SNK screw power terminal blocks ZS150 / ZS240.

What’s new?

The ZK-PV range for photovoltaic installations is as compact as the rest of the PI-Spring terminal block range, adding only 2 mm to the unit’s depth. For differentiating positive and negative poles, grey and blue colors are available: The distribution blocks are suitable for conductors with maximum cross-sections of 10 mm² / 6AWG and 16 mm² / 4AWG. The range pro-vides two and three connections so that two circuits can be grouped in parallel in one line. To group more than two circuits, several ZK10 PV terminals (10mm² / 6AWG) can be interconnected by means of convenient plug-in jumpers.

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The range´s unique design gives installers two different ways to connect wires quickly and securely.

  • A Push-In mode lets installers just push solid wires into the terminal – ENTRELEC’s patented design automatically clamps the wire to create a strong, reliable connection.
  • In Spring Mode, non-prepared, stranded wires can be inserted just as easily. The installer just needs to slide a screwdriver into the adjacent slot, insert the wire and the connection is secured.

“Over the next five years, most solar power plants will use increased voltages to reduce installation and operational costs. Even though other solutions do exist on the market for 1500V DC, the terminal blocks are one of the safest and most reliable way for connecting electrical circuits inside PV panels, combiners and central inverters,” said Gael Grenat, head of global product management for TE’s ENTRELEC products.

— Solar Builder magazine

Shell acquires 100 percent stake in energy storage provider sonnen

Sonnen battery

Shell has agreed to acquire 100 percent of sonnen, a leader in smart energy storage systems and innovative energy services for households. This follows an investment by Shell in May 2018 and means that, post regulatory approval and completion, sonnen will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell.

Shell established its New Energies division in 2016. Shell New Energies focuses on two main areas: new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen; and power, being involved at almost every stage of the process, from generating electricity, to buying and selling it, to supplying it directly to customers. Shell aims to make electricity a significant part of its business.

“Full ownership of sonnen will allow us to offer more choice to customers seeking reliable, affordable and cleaner energy,” Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice President New Energies at Shell, said. “Together, we can accelerate the building of a customer-focused energy system in support of Shell’s strategy to offer more and cleaner energy solutions to customers.”

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sonnen offers smart energy storage to customers and offers digital energy services via its sonnenCommunity platform. For example, the sonnenBatterie optimizes the use of solar power in a household and supplies energy at night using stored solar power generated in daytime. sonnen has been a pioneer in the energy market by combining its technology with new business models for a decentralized energy system. Recently, sonnen put Germany’s biggest virtual battery into operation. It is based on a network of home electricity storage systems across the country to help balance power supply and demand on the power grid.

Christoph Ostermann, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of sonnen, said: “Shell New Energies is the perfect partner for helping us grow in a market that is expanding rapidly. With this investment we’re excited to help more households to become energy independent and benefit from new opportunities in the energy market. Shell will help drive the growth of sonnen to a new level and help speed up the transformation of the energy system.”

The agreement will accelerate the ability of the two companies to offer innovative integrated energy services and electric vehicle charging solutions, and the provision of grid services that are based on sonnen’s virtual battery pool.

Shell’s New Energies business is seeking to leverage the company’s strengths in fast-growing and commercial parts of the energy industry and could spend on average between $1-2 billion a year until 2020 on commercial opportunities. For more information, go to

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar carport at Massachusetts Comcast call center enough to offset 95 percent of consumption

Nexamp carports

Kim Willingham, Senior Manager of Safety for Comcast’s Greater Boston Region plugs in an electric vehicle (EV) for charging at the newly completed solar carport installation in Plymouth, MA.

Comcast completed a 1,170-panel carport solar installation that will help power its regional call center at 35 Resnik Road in Plymouth, Mass.. The system will generate enough onsite clean energy – as much as 600,000 kilowatt hours of power annually, or the equivalent of 60 homes’ worth of electricity – to offset more than 95% of the facility’s annual energy consumption.

Comcast worked with Sunpower to install the parking lot-based solar array, also enabling the installation of two dual-port EV charging stations beneath the solar panel canopy, with the ability to charge four vehicles simultaneously. The system provides the added benefit of providing covered parking spots for employees during inclement and hot weather conditions. Local residents are also welcomed to use available EV car charging stations as well.

Leading up to the solar system installation, Comcast converted its Plymouth facility to LED lighting, as it has done at numerous New England sites. This holistic approach to energy management delivered increased efficiency and eliminated more than 200,000 kilowatt hours of power usage annually at Plymouth.

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“Technology, innovation and talent are at the core of everything Comcast does, and generating clean energy on site at our Plymouth facility demonstrates our commitment to a culture of sustainability to promote a cleaner, healthier environment,” said Tracy Pitcher, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Greater Boston Region, which serves customers throughout eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

The Plymouth solar project is the latest in an ongoing series of sustainability efforts implemented in Comcast’s New England footprint. Just a few examples include upgrading to high-efficiency equipment and cooling systems in data centers and installation of LED lights and fixtures at dozens of its largest offices and call centers including Manchester and Hudson locations in New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts facilities in Chelmsford, Malden, and Plymouth. Also, five EV charging station sites have been installed across the area with more planned for 2019, and the company is expanding its use of single-stream recycling and kitchen waste com-posting.

“Our sustainability efforts also touch the products and experiences we offer our customers,” added Pitcher. “We have made it a priority to provide the most innovative ser-vices in the home and extend energy efficiency options as an added benefit.”
For example, the company’s X1 platform enables customers to say “Go Green” into their voice remotes, leading them to a settings menu that launches a power-saving mode to power down the TV box when not in use. This helps customers reduce their energy consumption and saves money on their utility bills.

— Solar Builder magazine

This nearly 100-MW California solar PPA enabled by energy service provider Direct Energy Business

DIRECT ENERGY LOGO

Sunpin Solar, a California-based solar developer, and Direct Energy Business, part of Direct Energy, one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related services providers, and a subsidiary of Centrica PLC, announced a renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA) for the full output of the recently completed ColGreen North Shore Power Plant. The renewable energy PPA covers the full 96.75 MW DC / 74.8 MW AC capacity of the solar project and will serve Direct Energy Business’ retail energy customers in California. This agreement is one of the first instances an energy service provider (ESP) has enabled a project of this size in California.

“California is a very competitive market for utility-scale solar developers, and I am proud of the Sunpin Solar team for the successful implementation of this new innovative Structured PPA with Direct Energy Business. This agreement sets the stage for our plans to build at least another 200 MW of solar in California,” said Tom Li, President of Sunpin Solar.

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Situated on 485 acres of land in the city of Mecca, CA, near the Salton Sea, the project has been operational since January 2019. The ColGreen North Shore Solar Power Plant is interconnected to the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Utility grid and has delivery capability into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) territory. The single-axis tracking system has an expected annual production of over 210,000 MWh, which would be enough solar energy to power 22,300 homes per year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

“Energy Service Providers like Direct Energy Business can enable investments in renewables to help California reach its energy policy goals,” said David Brast, Senior Vice President, North America Power and Gas, Direct Energy Business. “As California continues to evolve into a competitive energy market, we will work with suppliers like Sunpin Solar to deliver more energy choices for our Direct Access (DA) and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) customers. This renewable energy PPA with Sunpin Solar is an important milestone in this journey and aligns with Centrica’s commitment to provide products and services that lead to a lower carbon future.”

The ColGreen North Shore Solar Power Plant displaces the CO2 equivalent of over 100,000 acres of trees and will offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of over 32,000 vehicles driven each year, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green-house Gas Equivalencies Calculator. The project created 425 local jobs at the peak of construction in an area classified as disproportionately burdened by pollution and with population characteristics more sensitive to pollution by the CalEPA. The completion of the project was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 15th.

— Solar Builder magazine