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.

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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

MBL-Energy is now pre-certified for solar carport installs at California schools

MBL Energy carport

MBL-Energy has received the first California Division of State Architects (DSA) pre-check certification issued under the newly released 2016 CBC compliance. This certification will enable MBL-Energy to quickly move forward on the design and construction of parking canopies for California public schools and other public works by reducing the permitting approval time from up to one year down to five weeks, potentially saving schools thousands of dollars in energy costs during the process.

MBL-Energy says this certification came through because it was the first to pass cyclical testing and meeting the rigorous project and safety requirements set forth by DSA. An integral component of the new and existing DSA pre-check certification is the approval of MBL-Energy’s patented UL-certified Beacon Clip, an enhanced solar module attachment. Developed by MBL-Energy CEO Robert Laubach, the UL-certified Beacon clip uses proprietary technology that enables a more efficient and safe installation process on solar arrays. With a higher safety rating than required by the DSA, the Beacon Clip is ideal for carports on school campuses and related public work structures.

“Earning the first pre-check certification in California from the DSA based on the current and new guidelines is the culmination of months of planning, hard work and coordination between MBL engineers, third party testers and inspectors,” Laubach said. “The use of our Beacon Clip was an important safety factor in securing approval of both our earlier pre-check certification and the certification under the new DSA guidelines. The pre-check certification enables us to streamline the design and construction of carports for school districts and other public work structures and can result in significant utility bill savings.”

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

The DSA oversees construction projects on California K–14 campuses by providing plan review and approval, and construction oversight of projects, in response to applications from California school and community college districts. DSA updates project pre-check qualifications based on current building code applications to meet standards agreed upon by a number of internal and external partners.

“Solar developers that receive DSA PC approval basically have structural permits, resulting in a significantly shorter project permit approval time than a non-certified project,” said Inspector of Record representative Fred Wasinger. “I have worked with MBL-Energy for 10 years on numerous projects of various sizes and scopes. Their depth of understanding of DSA is something that sets them apart from other contractors, and they consistently provide unparalleled and exacting work to our school districts.”

To date, MBL-Energy has successfully completed 350 MW of solar projects across California, of which 180 were DSA projects. This includes recently announced projects across six schools in the Santa Rita Union School District in Salinas, California, that integrates one megawatt of solar PV with 1.1 MWh of Sharp’s SmartStorage energy storage systems to form solar plus storage microgrids, and with the Fontana Unified School District (FUSD) in San Bernardino County.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar carport developers find low-cost opportunity despite the tariffs

Quest Renewables

“But whatever the reason [for the tariff], the consequences probably won’t be severe. The solar revolution is happening so fast that the tariff will make little difference.” — Noah Smith, Bloomberg.

This quote from Bloomberg is certainly true, but the immediate effect has unquestionably caused some projects that were “on the bubble” financially to be canceled, and significantly reduced the profitability of others. The uncertainty of the tariff came when the industry didn’t know the final amounts. This made financing difficult because no one knew what projects were ultimately going to cost. In reality, the module tariff turned out to be a relatively small increase of about $.15 per watt to the cost of solar projects.

There are multiple ways to save more than enough money to make up for the tariff increase. Installation labor efficiencies and civil engineering work provide opportunities to increase efficiency so much so that if these levers are pulled, solar installers will be able to decrease the total cost of their projects even with the module tariff in place.

At Quest Renewables, we are attacking the module tariff by improving installation efficiency in solar carports in four ways:

1. Reducing installation labor costs by 50 percent by assembling our systems on the ground, and then lifting completely assembled carports by crane. The cost of the crane is only about 5% of the traditional cost of labor, so the crane pays off by a lot.

2. Using standard pre-engineered array sizes and configurations. This enables us to optimize and reduce foundation count, so that our products have half the number of foundations of systems of comparable size. Not only does this reduce the overall cost of foundations, but it also reduces the overall project variability costs caused by uncertain soil conditions.

Quest Renewables

3. Leveraging local labor crews to reduce installation costs. When our customers manage the project labor or provide their own crews, they gain two big advantages. First, they eliminate markup from construction. Second, they use a skilled local crew that can install our standard systems over and over and become more efficient over time.

4. Increasing project size by covering parking spaces and drive aisles enables a system to deliver up to twice as many watts as a T-canopy. Our customers can install more watts on a project allowing them to spread fixed costs across more wattage which improves profit margins.

With these cost saving efficiencies in place, developers and installers alike are certainly in a great position to continue growing the solar carport space. As utilities realize the unique ability of distributed generation to reduce myriad grid upgrade costs, several states are supporting solar canopy projects. Quest is seeing a lot of new projects coming to fruition in states like New Jersey, Massachusetts, and soon New York. In the coming months, Massachusetts will announce the final version of the state’s SMART Program. The current version of the program includes favorable incentives for carports.

What about the steel tariff?

With the module tariff proving to be manageable, albeit a little uncomfortable, now we bring focus to the steel tariff.

“President Donald Trump’s foray into trade protectionism heartened a handful of manufacturers in a deeply challenged industry but upset a much larger group of thriving downstream businesses that say they will lose sales and shed employees during what should be a boom time.” — James Rainey, NBC News.

Although Quest’s products are made with 100 percent American steel, the price of all steel is going up, foreign and domestic. The unique design of Quest’s canopies enables Quest to help customers overcome the increased cost from the rising price of steel. Quest is partnering with customers to ensure that the industry can succeed in this environment by not raising prices on our products in response to the steel tariff. Further, foundation reduction in projects using QuadPod solar canopies will overcome the increased cost of steel.

The industry is breathing a sigh of relief because the tariffs, both module and steel, have proved to be more of a speed bump and not a stop sign for project development. The bulk of the harm done by the tariffs was the difficulty to get projects financed, but financing can be found. According to the Department of Energy’s website, it remains “committed to leveraging America’s abundant solar energy resources — driving research, manufacturing and market solutions to support widespread expansion of the nation’s solar market.” Even so, the solar industry needs to remain vigilant in its’ advocacy to make sure that solar is here to stay.

Finn Findley is CEO of Quest Renewables.

— Solar Builder magazine

Florida’s Advanced Roofing builds out demo solar carport to promote the idea to local business

advanced-roofing-solar-carport

Advanced Roofing Inc., Florida’s largest commercial re-roofing contractor, has installed a demonstration project with a solar carport, electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment and rooftop solar arrays at its Fort Lauderdale headquarters to showcase the company’s latest innovations.

The solar showcase, now in full operation, includes a new rooftop solar array and a 16-space custom solar carport with solar-powered EV charging equipment. Advanced Roofing shares the 7-acre campus with its sister companies Advanced Air System and Advanced Green Technologies (AGT), the state’s largest commercial solar contractor. The solar carport demonstration project has 84-kilowatt (kW) power capacity, producing over 124,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year. The new carport and rooftop solar arrays add to two existing arrays at the headquarters site, which together produce an additional 100 kW – equivalent to enough energy to power approximately 30 average US homes.

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

“With all these solar solutions in place, we’re producing 100 percent of our main office’s energy needs, and that’s a doable goal for so many businesses that own their office and industrial locations,” said Rob Kornahrens, CEO of Advanced Roofing and AGT. He noted solar carport prices have dropped about 50 percent in the last five years through new technology and the company’s customized solutions and designs.

As electric vehicles’ (EV) popularity grows, Advanced Roofing – one of the nation’s “greenest” roofing companies – is also positioned to expand its role in the EV charge station market with a partnership with national EV charging industry leader ChargePoint. Already benefiting from electric vehicles’ energy savings, Advanced Roofing has added a Tesla Model S, a Tesla Model X and a Chevy Volt to its fleet.

Multinational corporations, hospitals, and other institutions took the lead in solar carport use during the last five-years, said Kornahrens, whose company has installed a total of more than 245 Megawatts of rooftop solar arrays and solar carports thought the United States – including two solar carports as large as six football fields for Lockheed Martin in Florida. With solar carport installations rising steadily nationwide since 2010, “many smaller companies that lack the rooftop space for a solar array are finding solar carports very practical.”

“Business owners with a deep commitment to sustainability are increasing solar carport demand here and statewide, taking advantage of the current economic and tax policy window,” Kornahrens said. “It’s a welcome benefit for their employees, whose cars stay cooler and protected from sunlight, and who enjoy the security of lighting systems installed under a carport’s solar panels.”

— Solar Builder magazine