Standard Solar teams with CI Labs to boost access to C&I capital

Standard Solar

In its continuing efforts to streamline the efficiency of commercial solar financing for businesses, organizations, municipalities, educational institutions and other entities, Standard Solar is teaming with CI Labs, a commercial and industrial underwriting, engineering and financing analytic platforms, to significantly increase transaction efficiency for solar projects and provide faster and easier access to its in-house capital.

As described in Standard Solar’s commercial financing primer “Commercial Solar Financing – The Definitive Guide,” solar customers face multiple challenges when it comes to project financing, including operating in a complicated market where customized solar financing solutions are increasingly paramount.

The CI Labs Platform, when paired with access to Standard Solar’s capital resources, will give the industry a means to evaluate options for customers in a more efficient manner and provide faster funding for projects should the customer decide to move forward.

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“Traditionally, the solar project space has been murky in terms of the ability of finance providers to give solid guidance on the necessary blend of credit underwriting criteria and independent engineering requirements for a viable fund portfolio,” explained Shaun Laughlin, Head of US Strategic Development for Standard Solar. “Our work with CI Labs will allow us to compress and clarify the process for developers and increase the velocity of our capital deployment.”

The team from CI Labs has more than 20 years combined solar industry experience, and Nathan Homan, Co-Founder of CI Labs, helped to create one of the solar industry’s leading commercial & industrial underwriting and analytic financing platforms.

“We believe that our industry experience, combined with the leverage of Standard Solar’s low-cost project finance options, will enable capital providers, developers and solar investors to close projects with much greater ease and efficiency,” said Homan.

— Solar Builder magazine

CleanFund eases C&I PACE financing with new partner program launch at Intersolar

CleanFund SolarPace

CleanFund is unveiling a new SolarPACE Partner Program along with other new tools, resources and partnerships designed to foster growth in the commercial solar industry at Intersolar July 10-12, booth 7119.

The SolarPACE Partner Program will provide additional levels of support for commercial project developers, such as tools and resources to quote, present and manage SolarPACE projects. The goal is to enable partners to offer more appealing financing options to their clients and close more sales. These resources include financing proposals and content that can be shared directly with property owners, as well as the CleanFund SolarPACE sales kit and training materials that make it easy to communicate the value of C-PACE financing. The Partner Program will also introduce attractive incentive offerings for deal flow generation.

RELATED: Study shows PACE financing’s big impact in driving solar installations

SolarPACE Partners will also have access to CleanQuote, an online platform that allows partners and direct owners to get indicative pricing and complete financing applications. CleanQuote is a fast and easy tool for indicative pricing, but if solar developers want to dive deeper into project economics, they can request a download of CleanFund’s SolarPACE Calculator.

SunPower, Energy Toolbase partner

CleanFund is now partnering with SunPower to offer SolarPACE to SunPower’s nationwide Dealer Network. SunPower Dealers will have easy access to CleanFund’s appealing financing, along with direct sales and project support. To streamline quoting and project design across platforms, CleanFund also recently announced an integration option for Energy Toolbase platform users. These new partnerships, along with previously announced arrangements with Jinko Solar and Soligent, demonstrates CleanFund’s commitment to driving growth in the C&I solar industry.

— Solar Builder magazine

Upgrading C&I rooftop solar installations with spray polyurethane foam

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SPF acts not only as an additional barrier to the elements, but it is also incredibly insulative.

As we have continued our expansion in the commercial and industrial solar market (which includes commercial, industrial, municipal, university, school, cold storage, food-processing and hospital buildings), we’ve discovered something. If commercial building owners are not overly familiar with how solar arrays are installed, they have legitimate concerns about the potential effects solar arrays could have on their roofs. For example:

  • Will the racking system, which holds the solar modules in place, harm the roof?
  • Will it have to be penetrated, creating potential pathways for the elements to enter?
  • Will it shorten the longevity of the roof?
  • Will it void the warranty?

In addition, we’ve discovered it’s often not just solar that these building owners want. They are often looking for energy-efficiency measures, too, particularly as property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs allow them to pay for both kinds of upgrades through their property taxes.

At Standard Solar, we take those concerns and desires seriously, and we’ve been searching for an all-encompassing solution — and we believe we have found one in spray polyurethane foam (SPF).

SPF acts not only as an additional barrier to the elements, but it is also incredibly insulative. As a result, building owners who use SPF as an underlayment to their current roofing will reduce energy consumption and save money on their energy bills.

Let’s take a closer look at how SPF works and how it will help you reach your solar and energy efficiencies goals.

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Longevity match

One of the strongest arguments for installing a rooftop solar array on a commercial building is to provide electricity for the building for at least 25 years. Many roofing materials can’t match that lifespan, but SPF can — and reduce energy bills by 20 to 50 percent more than fiberglass insulation in the process. When the proper roofing material is wedded to a rooftop solar array, the building owner can stop worrying about either. Instead, they can spend their time counting the savings the electrical system and energy-efficient roof will provide them.

Penetrating protection

In areas with high winds, on metal buildings and other external factors that could adversely affect solar arrays (think earthquakes), arrays must be attached to the roof. To accomplish this, solar installers are often forced to penetrate the roof membrane.

Penetrating installations are the cause of sleepless nights for building owners. After all, the solar installer is asking to poke holes through part of a structure that costs significant money. Any poorly sealed holes will cause problems for the roof itself and potentially allow rain or wind to reach beneath the roof and damage the inside of the building.

Unfortunately, some solar installers don’t know what it takes to seal the penetrations properly, and as anyone who’s ever had a leaky roof knows, locating the problem is difficult by the time the damage is discovered.

RELATED: Why energy density matters — and three ways to maximize it

That’s where SPF can help. We often use SPF to restore roofs under the arrays we install. When you combine SPF with a quality liquid membrane, not only do they self-flash, but they provide a double measure of protection from the weather. Finally, having a sturdy underlayment adds even more strength to the roof, making it an even better investment for the building owner.

The best use of SPF roofing we’ve seen, however, is at building conception. If the long-term plan is always to add a solar array to the roof at some point, SPF roofs allow the construction company to make the building “solar ready” by installing solar stanchions (legs).

Building owners can speed solar installations with such advance planning and get to the fun part of having a solar array — saving money — more quickly.

Perfect pairing

Like a perfectly prepared filet and a well-rounded pinot noir, SPF roofs and solar arrays beautifully complement each other. Combined, they allow commercial building owners to save through solar electricity production and improved energy efficiency with the outstanding insulative properties of SPF and the reflective characteristics of a quality liquid membrane. This collective approach will help companies reach their sustainability goals faster and with greater success.

Though SPF is currently something of a niche product, we believe it is gaining a much wider following with each successful installation, among both solar installers and commercial building owners. In time, we believe it will displace conventional insulation methods, which will be good news for building owners and solar installers alike.

Daryl A. Pilon, M.E., is director of business development for Standard Solar.

— Solar Builder magazine

Four energy dense solar mounting systems for C&I rooftops

SunModo SunBeam

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As a permanent part of the building and roof structure, the SunBeam system eliminates any abrasions, moss build up and need of system removal for roof repair or re-roofing. In addition, it provides shading of HVAC equipment, increasing efficiency and faster temperature response. Twenty-year warranty.

Material: High-grade aluminum and 304 stainless steel hardware. Anchor-only attachment.

How it maximizes energy density: The SunBeam system elevates above obstructions such as HVAC, pipes and vents. By spanning over roof obstructions such as HVAC, pipes and vents, the system takes full advantage of the available roof surface thereby maximizing the PV system size. The system can be easily adjusted to account for the multiple roof pitches on site.

Everest Solar D Dome R²

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The D Dome R² system is an east/west commercial flat roof solution. The third generation of this product is now rail-less with only five major components and minimal hardware. It sits at a fixed 10-degree pitch and allows for 3.5-in. inter-row spacing. Twenty-year warranty.

Material: Aluminum, ballast with attachment optional. The ballast blocks sit under the panels.

How it maximizes energy density: Everest Solar Systems believes east/west systems are more efficient south of the tropic of cancer. First, an east/west system practically eliminates inter-row spacing which allows more modules on the roof, thus increasing module density. On one internal study, Everest compared a the production of a 10-degree south-facing system with its east/west system in southern California at different azimuths. The south-facing fit 88 modules and had a 14 percent decrease in at the 225-degree azimuth. The D Dome R² system reached 108 modules in the same space and had less than 0.1 percent change between all azimuth angles.

Solar Mounting Solutions

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SMS Racking consists of only three major parts that arrive with all hardware pre-inserted allowing for quick single tool installation. The THRU-ITT integrated wire management system allows wiring to remain organized and protected by running wires east-west and north-south internally. Since this racking design does not rely on the panel for integrity, installers can complete racking and wire installation independent of the panel. Twenty-year warranty.

Material: G90 coated steel and optional galvanized steel, aluminum, powder-coated. Ballast only.

How it maximizes energy density: SMS developed an Excel spreadsheet that determines the optimum row-to-row spacing based on the selected solar module, optimum tilt angle, solar azimuth angle, and the altitude angle all specific to install location. By optimizing the length of row-to-row spacers, the SMS system can greatly reduce the amount of redundant material, which in turn will reduce racking cost and avoid installing the modules in a high shadow region. The racks are designed with minimal distance between modules in the east/west direction to eliminate unused area.

Ecolibrium EcoFoot5D and EcoFoot2+

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EcoFoot5D 5-Degree and EcoFoot2+ 10-Degree speed installation and simplify logistics for flat-roof installs. Main components are: a base, pre-assembled clamps (integrated bonding without washers) and a wind deflector. The system is black, ASA-PC, UL Listed Resin with a 25-year warranty mounted with ballast, attachments or a mix.

How it maximizes energy density: EcoFoot5D 5-Degree delivers 18.4 percent more power than the 10-degree system and lowers cost per watt. The system maximizes roof density while maintaining the ease and simplicity of EcoFoot. The modular base is small at 7 in. x 16.7 in., and inter-row spacing is a dense 9.9 in., creating a tightly packed array. Stackable bases enable up to 290 kW per pallet, resulting in fewer pallets and minimized shipping, storage and onsite crane use.

— Solar Builder magazine

Degrees of Separation: How to mount commercial rooftop PV systems to maximize energy

Ecolibrium EcoFoot system

Ecolibrium EcoFoot system

On commercial rooftops, design trends are all about maximizing energy density. Module selection is a huge factor there, but so are the layout and tilt decisions — figuring out the perfect shape and tilt to mount as many modules as possible without compromising their performance.

Pairing the right racking system with a flat-roof space opens up a world of possible equations. Use a racking system that will position the panels to maximize the energy output, which includes the tilt angle, inter-row spacing and the direction the panels will face. As always, geography matters. For one, the roof’s azimuth, or the direction the pitch faces. For a perfect south-facing system, the azimuth should be 180.

But new systems are tweaking the traditional. East/west systems are becoming popular below the tropic of cancer. Designers are playing more with tilt angles, with the general trend moving toward 5-degree tilt — likely to reduce inter-row shading without compromising the number of modules used or resulting in too much soiling.

“Rooftop energy density is maximized by fitting more panels on the roof using a 5-degree racking system,” said Jonah Coles, product solutions manager, Ecolibrium Solar. “The key to fitting more panels on the roof is to use racking with a small footprint and narrow inter-row spacing. The combination packs in panels, yet the inter-row spacing is wide enough to allow for the working room needed for ease of installation and post-installation maintenance.”

RELATED: Why energy density matters — and three ways to maximize it

But the tilt decision isn’t one-size-fits all. Everest Solar Systems notes tilt angle efficiency correlates to latitude — the higher the latitude often requires a higher tilt. The latitude in Hawaii, for instance, allows a system to be virtually flat, but there needs to be enough tilt to keep the rain from pooling and to keep dust off the modules. Brandon Gwinner, regional sales manager, SunModo, puts that minimum at a 4-degree tilt.

SunModo Sunbeam

“The tilt degree is dependent on the region/location and optimum output based on TSRF,” he says. “The minimal tilt degree racking systems are typically to maximize the number of modules you can get on a roof without your rear post being 8 ft off the roof and to get the most energy density/power density per the project.”

There are also some wind/snow load considerations that can keep tilt below a certain height/tilt degree, as well as parapet walls and billowing of wind. The installer has to find the balance between production and engineering capabilities.

Also, installers looking to maximize production in summer months should consider using lower tilt angles than installers looking to maximize production in winter months. In snowy northern climates, Everest Solar recommends a 10-degree system tilt angle, which is better for shedding snow, plus the wider inter-row spacing allows more room for snow to land without piling up and casting a shadow or covering the modules.

“If you can hit your power goal with a 10-degree system, then 10-degree would be the system of choice. If not, 5-degree racking can enable a successful system when 10-degree wouldn’t fit enough panels to generate enough power,” Coles said.

Commercial installations have significantly more requirements than residential installations, so understanding jurisdictional requirements at the onset of the project will make the process go smoothly. Some states, like Oregon, do not require extra engineering when the tilt is under 18 in. on the back edge of the array, based on a prescriptive path. So, cost analysis vs. ease of permitting is a factor for tilt decisions too.

The inter-row spacing issue

Tilted PV panels cast shadows on the rows of modules behind them, necessitating a gap between rows to minimize the effects of production loss due to shadows cast on panels in anterior module rows. Here are a few ideas to mitigate the impact of this phenomenon on your PV installation via Peter Abou Chacra, engineering consultant, SunModo.

  • Reduce the tilt of your south-facing array. For peak energy production on a per-module basis, PV modules have an ideal incident angle with solar rays emanating from the sun. For some installations, however, it may make sense to reduce the tilt of the modules to a less optimal incident angle. Though this means less production on a per module-basis, it can mean a significant increase in the daily unshaded collection time for the array. This gain in effective collection time can offset the losses caused by a sub-optimal tilt for the module itself. Using software dedicated to modeling and analyzing a system’s performance at a different tilt angle and inter-row spacing should figure out the best path.
  • Locate your system on a south-facing slope. Even a five-degree inclination can have a marked impact on the amount of inter-row spacing required. This can significantly increase the number of modules you can fit in a given area.
  • Consider 3-in-landscape or 4-in-landscape monoslope installations. Coupled with a low tilt, this strategy can reduce inter-row spacing significantly on a given installation since modules on the same structure and slope don’t require significant spacing between them. This can be particularly effective if you can gradually elevate the anterior monoslope PV structures as you work your way north through the site.

— Solar Builder magazine