In construction: Outlets at Tejon adding 600-kW solar carport in parking lot

solar carport construction

Located at Tejon Ranch, Calif., the Outlets at Tejon is currently installing a new solar electric system in its parking lot. The 600 kW-AC rated system will cover five rows of stalls (approximately 1.85 acres) in the center’s southwest parking field, protect shoppers from the hot sun and occasional rain while adding to the center’s green and sustainable footprint.

The solar panels will offset the electricity needs for the center’s common elements, such as exterior lighting and HVAC/lighting for the public restrooms and food court. Work is being performed by CalCom Energy, a solar developer and energy services company based in Visalia, Calif.

The Outlets at Tejon opened to the public in August 2014 and is celebrating its five-year anniversary. Surrounded by the scenic landscape of historic Tejon Ranch, the Outlets at Tejon serves the shopping needs of residents, tourists, and travelers. The Outlets have more than 60 top designer and value brands in fashion, footwear, accessories, home goods and more, including Kate Spade Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store, Coach Factory Store, H&M, Express, Old Navy, Samsonite and Pottery Barn.

— Solar Builder magazine

Check out the largest solar canopy in Vermont, operated by Encore Renewable Energy

Encore Renewables

Vermont’s largest solar canopy to date, built by a public-private partnership for the Science Museum on the Burlington waterfront, has commenced generation of electricity. The 156 kWp solar carport at the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain employs innovative two-sided panels that capture reflected light as well as the direct rays of the sun, increasing its output. It was constructed at the same time as a new parking lot and a state-of-the-art stormwater pollution control system built by ECHO and the City of Burlington to help improve the water quality in Burlington’s inner harbor.

“We are so pleased to have been able to work with ECHO and the City of Burlington in delivering this important project,” said Chad Farrell, Chief Executive Officer of Burlington-based Encore Renewable Energy, which built and will operate the array. “This project is a strong example of the forward-looking thinking and action that we need from municipalities, non-profits and other organizations below the national level, to advance the clean energy economy and address the negative impacts of climate change.”

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The solar canopy project required complex engineering. Encore had to design for varying lakefront water levels, high winds, specific truck and bus traffic patterns at the Science Museum, and existing underground infrastructure. Due to ECHO’s location in Burlington’s previously industrialized waterfront, soil and water quality were continuously monitored throughout construction, in strict adherence to the State of Vermont’s regulatory process for environmentally contaminated property.

“The opportunity is finding ways to take urban settings in which we already have high land use, like a parking lot, and turning it into renewable power production,” said Phelan Fretz, Executive Director of ECHO.

The project design called for innovative bifacial, or two-sided, solar panels to increase the electricity generated by capturing albedo light, the short-wave solar radiation reflected from the parking lot, parked vehicles and nearby lake surface. This higher output will increase the overall savings for the Science Museum.

“We are thrilled to support ECHO’s mission, and their commitment to continued education to improve energy production, land use development and water quality management,” said Farrell.

Encore was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the project including navigating the complex lakefront environmental and geotechnical issues, project design, permitting, financing, construction, and commissioning. In addition, Encore and one of its financing partners will own, operate and maintain the project.

“This is a great project that advances many of the City’s key goals, from the protection of Lake Champlain through better stormwater facilities, to new solar capacity that helps move us toward our goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy City, to additional attractions in the heart of our vibrant waterfront,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The City is proud to have played a role in this project, and I am very thankful for the hard work of ECHO and Encore in getting it done.”

ECHO was Vermont’s first LEED certified building when it was built in 2003. The building already features solar panels on the roof, natural lighting, passive heating and cooling, smart lighting, and specially controlled HVAC systems, built from renewable materials and locally sourced supplies.

— Solar Builder magazine

How SDC Energy is getting apartment owners to profit from the California Solar Mandate

Baja Solar carport project

Solar carports in Southern California for Baja Carports.

SDC Energy, a leading provider of commercial solar financing, launched its Powering Title 24 Program with partners Baja Construction and Grid Technologies to specifically empower apartment builders and owners under California’s New Build mandate.

California is the first state in the country to require solar energy on all new residential properties under three stories by 2020. But it’s not all compliance — a survey of 2,800 apartment residents — three in five of them under the age of 34 — found that 84% of tenants say that living in an eco-friendly building is important to them, and nearly two-thirds would pay more to live in a green community.

Powering Title 24’s PV carports create energy-efficient properties that command higher rents and longer leases while reducing construction costs. Unique in the solar industry, Powering Title 24 combines solar carports, virtual net-metering software and tax-enabled financing to help apartment builders and owners convert Title 24 mandates into long-term benefits.

“Powering Title 24 turns compliance into profits,” says Charles Schaffer, CEO of SDC Energy. “Solar carports generate tax credits and accelerated depreciation benefits that offset all of their construction costs. Working with our partners, we can build PV-powered carports essentially for free while creating a new revenue stream for multi-tenant property owners.”

How it works

Multifamily properties will see even more changes in 2019. AB 802, which will take effect in June, requires all California multi-family building owners to disclose their properties’ energy usage to reveal their level of Title 24 compliance. Leveraging solar energy will be a critical component in compliance strategies.

Powering Title 24 is a trio of services that leverages parking structures into solar generating carports, combining intelligent software that monitors the electricity produced and integrates billing systems to enable the sale of solar power to tenants. The linchpin of the program is custom financing that provides secure, flexible terms for solar installers and their customers while enabling private investors to cut their tax bills with PV incentives.

“California’s solar mandate shines new light on the value of building green communities,” says Brandon Morford, CEO of Baja Construction. “Because we already build 70% of all multi-family carports in California and lead carport manufacturing in the solar industry, we can quickly supply builders with a very cost-effective solution.”

After installation, Powering Title 24 makes sure that the project’s electricity is distributed efficiently.

“Our energy monitoring system leverages ‘virtual’ net metering to create a passive revenue stream for building owners,” explains Dover Janis, co-founder and CEO of Grid Technologies. “Owners gain from the sale of solar while tenants save 5% to 10% on their utility bills. Plus, adding solar boosts property values up to two and a half times the cost of the installation.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Sunflare debuts new lightweight PV solutiont for parking structures

sunflare carport vegas

Sunflare is a light, thin, rugged solar system that is changing the residential solar roof concept and ready to do the same for parking structures. Sunflare modules are lighter than silicon, so they can go where other solar can’t. That means there’s no need for heavy steel replacement, which is required with traditional solar. This also means there’s no dusty structure demolition and removal. The net result is minimal disruption or displacement of tenants, customers, and employees.

The additional benefit of not having to construct a new parking structure is that there’s no potential hassle with new code compliance—which sometimes requires changes to parking lots—an additional project that can be disruptive, time consuming and costly in and of itself.

Look for the solar parking retrofit presentation at Solar Power International booth 2482.

sb-econference-web-post

Unlike traditional solar panels that are covered in glass, Sunflare modules are more rugged because the Sun2 cells are encapsulated between durable polymer sheets. So often you see mangled car port roofs where high profile trucks misjudge the height and crush the frame. If that happens with silicon panels on the carport, the accident is likely to damage the solar panel as well. With Sunflare, the panel will flex as the roof is bent. The damage is limited to the structure and not the energy system.

In addition, Sunflare modules have bypass diodes at every cell. When trees or other structures shade areas of a parking cover, only the cell that is shaded becomes inactive. The remainder of the panel continues to generate power.

Installation is fast and easy. With Sunflare’s mechanical attachments, modules can be added on any structure with no time wasted with racking or cumbersome staging. Installation is quick, and secure. Sunflare modules do not require chemical adhesion. That means Sunflare works on any profile of metal or any other material.

Sunflare modules have a 25-year linear production, 25-year workmanship warranty.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar canopy installed in just five days, ready for upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Quest Renewables

Quest Renewables solar canopy can be assembled at ground level.

Interconnection Systems, Inc. (ISI), in partnership with Quest Renewables, completed the installation of a 54.6-kW QuadPod solar canopy system at the Harley-Davidson Rally Point Plaza in Sturgis SD in just five days in June. The plaza is used as a central gathering place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and for numerous public events during the year. The power generated by the system will offset energy used by the building that houses the Sturgis Public Library and City Hall.

Liz Wunderlich, P.E., City Engineer for Sturgis, had this to say about the construction and the system, “The Harley-Davidson Rally Point is an extremely important public space for the City of Sturgis. Both Quest and ISI did a marvelous job incorporating the new black powder coated canopy into the aesthetic aspect of the Plaza, and were respectful of property, events and of residents. Construction even took a break while the city had a parade going by during fabrication. I am definitely pleased with ISI, Quest and the finished canopy.”

RELATED: Solar carport developers find low-cost opportunity despite the tariffs

The 54.6-kW system features the QuadPod double cantilever system from Quest Renewables. 90% of QuadPod’s construction takes place on the ground, making construction three times faster. After on-the-ground assembly, panel placement, inverter mounting, wiring and lighting, the canopy units are lifted by crane for final attachment, minimizing overhead work and optimizing worksite safety.

Nate Conaway, Project Manager of Interconnection Systems, said of the solar industry, “[It] now employs more people than the oil industry.” He also said, “[The solar industry] is an industry that’s not going to go away.”

— Solar Builder magazine