Check out this simple new solar canopy from startup Renewz

iSun Oasis EV charger

At the New England Home Show in Boston, solar energy and electric vehicle (EV) technology startup Renewz launched an online ordering campaign for the iSun Oasis, a smart solar canopy that easily integrates into homeowners’ lifestyle and garden, patio or driveway. It is part of the iSun Energy brand, and is now available for the price of $9,999 USD less a limited offer $2,500 discount.

How it works

iSun Oasis connects directly to the home’s electrical grid. The durable, aluminum structure holds an American solar panel array which captures and delivers clean power, reducing the homeowner’s carbon footprint by approximately 1.4 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. Users will also see reductions to their energy bills, and may be eligible for further rebates and tax breaks in their state or province. In the US, Americans will receive a 30% federal tax credit in the first year after installation. In many cases, the entire purchase and installation of the canopy can be financed by energy savings, as well as an increase to home value when it comes time to sell.

The canopy extends the use of outdoor areas by protecting from heat, rain, snow and UV whether on driveway, patio or garden. iSun Oasis is controlled and monitored via the iSun mobile app, which will be consistently updated with new features such as Electric Vehicle charge control, smart lighting and more. The canopy’s functionality can be expanded with accessories like an EV charger, smart lighting, electrical outlets, bluetooth speakers, plant holders and bug nets.

Solar canopy

“One of our main goals in the design of our canopy was for it to integrate and improve users’ home lifestyle, in a seamless and cost effective manner,” says CEO Sass M. Peress. “We designed the iSun Oasis so that it would be simple to install, and easy to obtain an installation city permit, since it is considered a temporary structure due to its innovative anchoring system. Its access to a host of incentives plus energy payback and increased home value make it a smart financial decision as well.”

iSun Oasis works under all kinds of daylight conditions and features high efficiency, curved solar panels designed to optimize energy generation. While maximum power is obtained from direct sunlight, the canopy’s unique solar technology creates energy even through diffuse light or cloudy conditions. It is capable of producing power even when buried under four inches of snow.

The ‘Carportunity’: How our electric vehicle future means big things for solar carports

— Solar Builder magazine

Ameren Missouri prioritizes electric vehicle infrastructure in new program filing

EV charging stations

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is coming, if not already here, and as NREL noted, some big steps need to be taken to accommodate this new reality. Steps like this will help: Ameren Missouri has filed its Charge Ahead program with the Missouri Public Service Commission that would encourages EV and equipment use among Missouri residents and businesses, along with some other energy efficient measures. If approved, the program would initiate the following:

• New incentives for the installation of workplace, multifamily, and public EV charging stations, as well as fast-charging EV stations near interstate highways
• Incentives for commercial customers transitioning to efficient electric machinery, such as forklifts and other material-handling equipment
• Improved energy-grid accessibility and reliability through a revised line-extension policy

“Our Charge Ahead program is designed with Missouri’s future in mind by eliminating the barriers for EV charging and promoting the use of more efficient and cleaner electric equipment in commercial settings and on our roads,” said Michael Moehn, president, Ameren Missouri. “At the same time, the program will help provide lower costs to customers, improve air quality by reducing emissions and help promote economic growth by ensuring Missouri maintains a competitive business environment.”

The ‘Carportunity’: How our electric vehicle future means big things for solar carports

In 2017, Ameren Missouri announced a $1 billion investment in alternative energy sources. This investment will include building wind turbines in Missouri and surrounding states and result in the generation of 700 megawatts of wind-generated power by 2020. The company also plans to add 100 megawatts of solar-generated power over the next 10 years, with 50 megawatts expected to come on line by 2025. This is Ameren Missouri’s largest-ever commitment to clean, renewable energy.

In addition to increasing access to EV charging stations, the Charge Ahead program will offer numerous incentives for Ameren Missouri’s commercial customers transitioning to electric equipment. It also allows for a revision in Ameren Missouri’s line-extension policy, which will make accessing and connecting to the electric grid easier and more affordable for commercial and industrial customers.

— Solar Builder magazine

The ‘Carportunity’: How our electric vehicle future means big things for solar carports

California’s Franchise Tax Board complex

Electric vehicles taking over the road is no longer a question. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and all-electric vehicles have surged recently. So now the question is where are all of these things going to get their juice?

A new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) quantifies how much charging infrastructure would be needed in the United States to support various market growth scenarios for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). NREL notes that most PEV charging occurs at home, but widespread PEV adoption would require the development of a national network of non-residential charging stations. Strategically installing these stations early would maximize their economic viability while enabling efficient network growth as the PEV market matures. NREL says about 8,000 fast-charging stations would be needed to provide a minimum level of urban and rural coverage nationwide.

No one asked us, but we think carport developments have a big opportunity (a carportunity!) to lead the way. The segment is seeing notable reductions in system costs and installation timelines that only make more projects viable.

Quest Renewables

The Value of Expertise

There is enough institutional knowledge among the chief carport construction companies now to give developers and larger investors confidence. Feast your eyes on California’s Franchise Tax Board complex, for example (pictured above). Developed by DGS-Building Property Management and installed by Ecoplexus at one of the largest business campuses in northern California, it is the state’s largest carport installation (10,400 PV panels), covering 1,276 employee parking spaces, spanning over 622,000 sq ft and generating 3.6 MW.

The project was made possible because of Baja Carport’s specialization in pre-engineered, pre-fabricated high-tensile, light gauge steel structures. And in chatting with its team at SPI this year, we’ve learned the company has been able to further streamline the costs of its system.

Then there is 4 S.T.E.L. and its standardized processes. Carport projects involve a ton of engineering and civil approval. 4 S.T.E.L.’s staff of engineers, project managers and drafters can design and erect a carport in their sleep at this point, but the big value comes in swift preapproval of its designs with the California Division of State Architects among other strict jurisdictions and building departments. Design preapproval can literally shave months off certain project timelines.

Park-onomics: Best practices for constructing cost-effective carport projects

Carports are certainly spreading beyond California too. At Michigan State University (MSU), Inovateus Solar is nearing completion of a 14-MW solar carport project spanning five parking lots and 700 sq ft on the East Lansing campus (pictured below). Using Schletter’s Park@Sol concept, the design is a maintenance-free, lightweight aluminum system with canopies standing 14-ft tall at the lowest point to provide enough room for recreational vehicles to park during football season. The carport install is expected to generate 15,000 MWh of electricity annually for MSU with projections showing a savings of $10 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years.

Schletter

Disruptive Designs

Key to the Schletter approach is its Micropile foundation, a hollow metal rod installed deep into the ground (pictured to the right), that requires less concrete material to accomodate even high wind and snow loads.

“The technology innovation of using Schletter micropiles as foundations and precast concrete pads, in addition to the engineering design, cut the construction schedule in half and minimized the risk factors in a rainy environment like Florida,” said Javier Latre Gorbe, VP of Technical Operations for ESA Renewables.

A newer entrant into the carport system space, Quest Renewables, has an especially exciting concept. Hatched as project at Georgia Tech Research Institute in 2011, the design received a work grant from the DOE’s SunShot Initiative and was commercialized in 2014. The hook here is a triangular support structure that requires less steel and allows for most of it to be assembled on the ground (pictured above).

Solar carports will spread across the country as costs decline

A vehicle auction company in Elkridge, Md., put in a 304-kW system and selected the Quest Renewables QuadPod to reduce foundation counts by 50 percent (using 50 percent less steel) to mitigate the poor soil conditions. From site survey to powering up, the system was completed in 45 days with minimal interruption to the parking lot. Another project in Portland, Maine, needed to minimize disruption of the work area. The 90 percent ground-level construction allowed it to be built in just eight days from start to finish. This first parking garage canopy install in Maine will sustain 112 mph winds and 50 psf of snow.

There’s a long way to go to fill in that void NREL is talking about, but it’s a start.

— Solar Builder magazine

Check out this 1.6-MW solar install for California’s Gilroy Unified School District

solar system gilroy school

If you need a reminder of the booming solar + school trend, Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD), a K-12 school district with more than 11,300 students, just completed a 1.6 MW PV system PPA expected to save $1.5 million in energy costs over 25 years. The three solar shade structure installations at Christopher High and Gilroy High will offset approximately 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually.

“Our District chose to finance the solar project via a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). We were fortunate to be able to create utility bill savings with the PPA in addition to financing the Gilroy High School parking lot remodel project,” said Superintendent Dr. Deborah A. Flores. “Borrego Solar was chosen because they offered seamless, turnkey solutions for us with PPA financing, project design, building the commercial solar systems, and managing the parking lot construction project. We felt confident in Borrego Solar’s ability to meet our project deadlines because of their in-depth experience with school districts.”

carport school borrego solar

Borrego Solar Systems, a top commercial solar company, developed, designed, and built GUSD’s solar projects: 447 kilowatts (kW) and 322 kW at Christopher High and 788 kW at Gilroy High. Borrego Solar has completed more than 14 MW of commercial solar installations across 70 sites for K-12 schools in California. The projects will produce about 2.7 million kWh of energy in the first year, which is the equivalent to the amount needed to power approximately 375 average homes annually. The solar systems are sized to offset approximately 77 percent of the current electricity usage at those two schools.

“We were impressed with GUSD’s leadership throughout the development and construction process. They worked to ensure that we could get on-site and complete the project quickly, so the district could start saving on energy sooner,” said Kyle Kearney, VP of project development, Western U.S. at Borrego Solar. “As a result, we’re celebrating the operation after just about five months of construction. Congrats to GUSD for joining a growing number of K-12 Districts in California taking advantage of solar.”

SunRaise Investments owns the installations and will sell the power to GUSD over th 25-year PPA term. Through a PPA, GUSD was able to deploy solar without any upfront capital outlay or additional costs over the system’s lifetime, while having control over their energy costs long-term.

— Solar Builder magazine

Parking Energy wants to make EV charger installation plug and play

Parking Energy EV charger

The question whether electric vehicles will become the predominant method of personal transport is no longer debated among industry experts and car manufacturers. Every major automotive brand is entering the market and many countries are abandoning fossil fuel cars entirely. But where (and how) will all of these things get their juice?

One of the major bottlenecks is the inability to provide scalable and cost-effective EV charging systems for residential and commercial buildings. Currently EV charging options are expensive and designed with single digit installations in mind. This raises the barriers for the property owners to invest in EV chargers and makes expanding the installations slow and inefficient. Parking Energy has a solution for this bottleneck.

Parking Energy Ltd is introducing new technology for electric vehicle charging in real estate based on a cabling system with Parking Energy Quick Connectors that enable chargers to be added in plug-and-play manner. The idea is for EV charger installation of any kind to take only a minute while eliminating wasteful investments.

Park-onomics: Best practices for constructing cost-effective carport projects

Parking Energy’s solution separates EV chargers from cabling and other electrical infrastructure improvements, which are long-term investments in stable technology. However, EV chargers are being developed at a fast pace to meet the changing demand characteristics and regulatory requirements.

Building EV-readiness for a whole parking garage begins by upgrading the electrical distribution center if needed. Cabling with the Quick Connectors is then brought to every parking spot. After this one-time investment the parking area is ready for the rapid installation of EV chargers of various types fitting the particular needs of the tenants. The solution can be installed in both new and old properties with indoor and outdoor parking.

The system enables a power output of up to 44 kW per Quick Connector. Currently charging unit variants are available in 3,7 kW, 7,2 kW and 22 kW power outputs. This allows users to choose a charging unit for their own need. The system will enable all future charging technologies such as inductive charging and vehicle-to-grid charging. All chargers have the identical and same rapid one-minute installation process. All chargers are sold as a service, which makes it easy to change the composition and number of chargers.

The first system using this technology has been installed in the headquarters of a leading Nordic pension insurance company with full 238 parking spaces ready for EV charging. The property has multiple tenants, whose charging needs are met by Parking Energy charging service, reducing the need for the property owner to invest time or money into the process.

“This is more than just introducing a new charging equipment to the market. This is an open technology platform which any EV charger manufacturer, charging operator or car manufacturer is can utilize from now on. It’s like the USB port for electric vehicle chargers, enabling compatibility throughout the industry. This will speed up the adoption of electric vehicles in a global scale.” – Jiri Räsänen, CEO, Parking Energy

Parking Energy is a Finnish company founded in 2014 with 20 employees. The company specializes in real-estate electric vehicle charging solutions.

— Solar Builder magazine