Project of the Year 2017 voting: Commercial & Industrial category

California Department of Franchise Tax Board

Sacramento, Calif.  |   3.6 MW

Baja Construction Franchise Tax Board Aerial - 1

The Franchise Tax Board complex is one of the largest business campuses in northern California, which makes this the state’s largest carport installation (10,400 PV panels), covering 1,276 employee parking spaces, spanning over 622,000 sq ft! Baja’s specialization in pre-engineered, pre-fabricated high-tensile light gauge steel structures for solar carports made the project possible.

Developer: DGS-Building Property Management
Contractor: Ecoplexus, Inc.
Modules: SolarWorld [SW 280 Mono]
Inverters: SMA STP
Mounting: Power Solar Frames

Head to the voting booth


 

Kam Man Foods

North Hanover, N.J.  |  600 kW

Kam Man Foods, the leader in Asian supermarkets in the Northeast United States, began solar-powering its buildings in 2012 with a 265 kW system. Fast forward to 2017, and Amergy Solar was contacted by the company to work on a new project that would maximize roof space and get as much power as possible. This project moved away from traditional South facing systems and used an East/West orientation. The racking used was Everest Solar’s third generation of the D Dome ballast system, which was specifically designed for an East/West orientation and higher density without needing roof penetrations. In the end, the project hit 600 kW.

Developer: Amergy Solar
Contractor: United Solar Associates
Modules: REC
Inverter: Solar Edge
Mounting: Everest Solar Systems

Head to the voting booth


 

Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries

San Antonio  |  530 kW

project of the year solar

project of the year solar mission

Freedom Solar installed more than 530 kW of solar power across seven locations of Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries, the largest and oldest privately owned funeral company in San Antonio. Because funeral homes operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, electric bills are a large portion of their operating costs. The new solar projects will offset more than 55 percent of Mission Park’s electricity needs at the seven locations, which include two mortuaries, its corporate office, three funeral chapels and cemeteries and a funeral home. One of the most unique designs was the 80-kW system installed at the Mission Park North Funeral Home. Freedom used SunPower panels that were laid out and slightly raised in a “helix design” to eliminate inner row space and shadows.

Developer: Freedom Solar
Contractor: Freedom Solar
Modules: SunPower
Inverters: SMA
Mounting: SunPower

Head to the voting booth


 

Ohio Northern Array

Ada, Ohio

Ohio northern solar array

Single Axis tracker array on 12 acres of ground supplying 10% of electricity for Ohio Northern University. Also used on campus for educational purposes. ONU educates engineering students based on 21 century project based learnings around the principals of photovoltaics and solar practical experience.

Developer: GEM Energy
Contractor: GEM Energy
Modules: First Solar
Inverters: SMA
Racking: SunLink

Head to the voting booth

 


Old Port Parking Garage

Portland, Maine  |  194 kW

Quest Renewables - Fore St_10

The 194-kW system is the first solar parking garage canopy in the state of Maine. The system is on the top level of the Fore Street Garage and provides shaded parking and cover from the elements for vehicles and provides clean, local, renewable energy to the Hyatt Place. The highly efficient, 90 percent ground-level construction of QuadPod allowed the system to be built in just eight days from start to finish – record time for a parking canopy. The system will offset more than 23 percent of the hotel’s electrical consumption.

Developer: East Brown Cow Management
Contractor: ReVision Energy
Modules: Hyundai 350
Inverters: Chint String
Mounting: Quest Renewables

Head to the voting booth


 

Urban Health Plan “Solar Wall”

Bronx, N.Y.

Urban Health solar wall

The solar wall is innovative because it solved the urban solar problem of insufficient roof space.
New York City solar installation leader Quixotic Systems has designed an innovative solar solution in the heart of the Bronx at Urban Health Plan’s Simpson Pavilion. Unlike most rooftop systems, the 37-kW array has been installed on the side of the building – a “solar wall.” The PV system designed and installed by the team at Quixotic foregoes limited roof space in favor of the Bronx building’s south-facing four-story façade. The high-efficiency array features 104 SunPower 327 panels mounted on a custom vertical rack.

Developer: Quixotic Systems Inc.
Contractor: Quixotic Systems Inc.
Modules: SunPower
Inverters: Fronius
Mounting: Custom

Head to the voting booth


 

Worcester Greenwood Landfill

Worcester, Mass.  |  8.1 MW

worcester landfill solar project

This is the largest municipally owned landfill project in New England. Stretching across 25 acres, the Greenwood Street Solar Array is a $27 million project that is expected to pay for itself in six years and save the city $60 million over its expected 30-year life span. It will produce enough energy to power 1,340 homes per year.

Developer: Borrego Solar Systems
Contractor: AJ Virgilio
Modules: LG Electronics
Inverter: SunGrow
Mounting: SunLink

Head to the voting booth

— Solar Builder magazine

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

Solar Builder Project of the Year awards

Finally, a vote in which there are no losers.

From remote islands to abandoned mines, from sprawling plains to dense urban areas — this year’s crop of Project of the Year Award nominees might be our most varied yet. This year, we decided to break out three separate categories – commercial & industrial, utility-scale, solar + storage – to best capture the breadth of entries and to let their unique attributes shine. After two weeks of voting – on Sept. 22 — we will close those polls, tally the votes and declare winners.

But then [twist!] we will reopen the polls and have the three category winners battle it out for a one-week, winner-take-all vote to choose the true Project of the Year, which will be displayed on the cover of our November/December print magazine.

The polls are on this page. Please click through to the three category links below, read about the nominees, and then come back here to cast your ballot.

Commercial & Industrial nominees

Utility-scale nominees

Solar + Storage nominees

2017 Project of the Awards round 1







— Solar Builder magazine

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

Solar Builder Project of the Year awards

Finally, a vote in which there are no losers.

From remote islands to abandoned mines, from sprawling plains to dense urban areas — this year’s crop of Project of the Year Award nominees might be our most varied yet. This year, we decided to break out three separate categories – commercial & industrial, utility-scale, solar + storage – to best capture the breadth of entries and to let their unique attributes shine. After two weeks of voting – on Sept. 22 — we will close those polls, tally the votes and declare winners.

But then [twist!] we will reopen the polls and have the three category winners battle it out for a one-week, winner-take-all vote to choose the true Project of the Year, which will be displayed on the cover of our November/December print magazine.

The polls are on this page. Please click through to the three category links below, read about the nominees, and then come back here to cast your ballot.

Commercial & Industrial nominees

Utility-scale nominees

Solar + Storage nominees

2017 Project of the Awards round 1







— Solar Builder magazine

This non-traditional solar site drainage solution could save you thousands

HydroBlox

HydroBlox transports water from high head pressure to low head pressure, creating a path of least resistance.

Installing or building the perfect site requires planning beyond the system itself. In ground-mount applications, for example, field drainage is an underrated attribute.

Drainage Explained

Typically, the energy dissipation methods on a solar site are aggregate, fabric cloth and perforated pipe. This requires excavation and removal of excess soil as well as the logistics and expense of supplying the aggregate to a remote and often difficult-to-access location. The maintenance requirements are time intensive and expensive.

These traditional drainage systems have a lifespan of one to seven years with most failures occurring in year three. These systems fail because of the migration of fines and silt — small particles that are suspended in the water. Often, you have a pipe that is surrounded by aggregate and a geotextile. As the aggregate or gravel settles and compresses over time, movement of the surrounding soil and fines increases. When the soil and fines migrate, the geotextile and pipe fill with these fines and become impacted.

A Better Way

Instead of going that traditional route, HydroBlox, a drainage and filter product made from 100 percent recycled plastic, is the first geotextile that conveys fluid.

HydroBlox has a compressive strength of 40,000 lbs per ft and an irregular patterned composition with an internal void space of 50 percent, referred to as a permavoid. The pressure in this void space is naturally lower and will remain that way due to the non-compressive nature of the HydroBlox. During natural settling, the plank of HydroBlox will not compress and therefore does not become impacted and clogged.

Also, HydroBlox transports water from high head pressure to low head pressure, creating a path of least resistance. The water then moves through the irregular void path of the HydroBlox plank, with the surrounding soil acting like a filter. This way, water will continuously pass through. In fact, this method moves water over ten times faster than sand.

“This is called the Tergazhi effect. The water movement is based on Darcy’s principle,” says Ed Grieser, owner of HydroBlox. “The working example that seems to resonate with everyone is when standing at the ocean’s edge at the beach, recall how quickly the water travels back into the sand when the wave recedes.”

Lee Supply is the exclusive distributor of HydroBlox with stock at all of their locations.

Installation

The installation method is very straightforward. Simply trench 2 in. wide and 7 in. deep. The trench should be 18-ft to 24-ft down the slope from the drip line. This will allow for 2 in. of HydroBlox to remain above grade. The downhill side is backfilled by the trenched material.

Alongside the potential O&M savings, Fancher says HydroBlox installation costs approximately one-quarter of existing methods.

“The costs associated with traditional systems are approximately $26.50 per foot,” he said. “The perforated pipe which is often compared to the price of HydroBlox is the least expensive component of the standard system. In reality, the true cost is much greater than HydroBlox because of the labor and equipment required. The installation costs for HydroBlox is approximately $1 per foot.”

Each foot of installed HydroBlox could net a savings of $19.50. On a 25-acre solar field site, the costs of installation are reduced by $780,000.

Also, heavy equipment and large vehicles are not necessary for maintenance. This allows for the solar panels to be placed closer together than would otherwise be possible. The maintenance for HydroBlox is simply keeping the rocks and debris clear on the uphill side of HydroBlox and the drainage swale that carries the water to the retention pond clear.


Product to Watch: NRG Systems’ Soiling Measurement Kit

NRG Systems’ Soiling Measurement Kit Photovoltaic modules often collect more than sunlight after they are installed. Depending on the siting location, particles ranging from dust to snow can accumulate on a PV module’s surface, reducing its performance and ultimately leading to significant power losses. This buildup — commonly referred to as soiling — can be compounded by such weather parameters as wind speed, relative humidity and ambient temperature, as well as localized activities near or around the PV plant.

To address and ideally avoid power losses caused by soiling, the new IEC 61724-1:2017 standard for PV system performance monitoring suggests that operators of utility-scale and large PV projects measure soiling ratio, which is defined as the ratio of the actual power/current output of a PV array under given soiling conditions to the power/current that would be expected if the PV array were clean and free of soiling. By measuring soiling ratio, operators are armed with the vital information needed to make practical decisions, like scheduling solar panel cleanings, that can better optimize the performance of their PV plant.

NRG Systems recently introduced a Soiling Measurement Kit specially designed to help PV developers and operators obtain the information needed to quantify the site-specific impacts of soiling on prospective and current PV projects. The turnkey solution is offered as an accessory to the company’s Solar Resource Assessment System and comes with three PV modules (one for data logger power, one clean panel and one dirty panel), pre-installed back-of-module temperature sensors, flexible mounting hardware and an integrated soiling interface module.

The Soiling Measurement Kit connects with NRG Systems’ SymphoniePRO Data Logger and provides a wealth of raw soiling measurement data that can be used to determine soiling ratio.

Specifically, the kit measures short circuit current and back-of-module temperature with the user’s choice of statistical interval as well as optional 1 Hz sample data collection, providing flexible analysis options to meet data demands. Generally, solar module performance decreases with increasing temperature, so back-of-module temperature measurements provide the critical information needed to accurately predict a PV plant’s power output.

— Solar Builder magazine

The Ultimate SPI Showcase: Here’s what to see at Solar Power International 2017

Big leap for microinverters

APsystems SPI

APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter at SPI in Las Vegas. A groundbreaking design in microinverter technology, the YC600 will offer the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. A wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

You’ll want to get the full scoop at booth 1745.

Streamlined Shutdown

Fronius

Fronius is launching a new generation of its Rapid Shutdown Box, which the company says will be the most convenient solution for NEC 2014 (690.12) and NEC 2017 compliance, while enhancing overall rooftop and firefighter safety. The new generation includes two versions: the Fronius Rapid Shutdown Box Duo and Quattro.
“Based on customer feedback, we implemented many improvements into this new generation of our Rapid Shutdown Box,” says Michael Mendik, head of solution management at Fronius USA.

Directly connected to the inverter through the same conduit as the DC homeruns and powered by the array, the Fronius solution minimizes the number of components and eliminates the need for an external power supply. The low-profile design and the multiple mounting options allow for installation underneath the modules, ensuring a clean system look. In addition, the NEMA 4X rating ensures the box is built for severe outdoor conditions. MC4 connectors, spring-loaded terminals and generous wiring space make the wiring a breeze. The Rapid Shutdown Box also acts as a combiner box, removing the need for additional hardware. Booth 3943.

Lightweight, flexible power conversion

Ideal Power

Ideal Power invented a new kind of power conversion architecture that delivers on flexibility, allowing you to enable or disable any features depending on project needs. At SPI, check out its 30-kW Stabiliti Series power converters. These multiport, compact converters are smaller, lighter and dramatically reduce installation costs while increasing return on investment. Ideal Power recently partnered with NEXTracker to implement it in various PV sites throughout North America. Booth 1433.

A top rail clip to rule them all

Heyco solar rail clips

Heyco has been busy this summer, introducing several new clips and wire management accessories for the solar market. Newest to the lineup are the SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U, which are top rail clips for various racking manufacturers such as Unirac, Ironridge, Everest, SnapNRack, Solar Mount and other similar racking profiles. The SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U are suitable for the new Enphase Q Cable. At the booth, you can also enter for a chance to win a Google Home. Booth 4762.

Drive down carport costs

Baja Carports InterSolar 2017 Booth Models

Baja Construction always has a standout booth, and this year its in-house construction team will be installing its signature Baja Solar Support System design, the “Braced Single Post Support,” built with high-tensile light gauge steel to support 24 solar modules (7.8 kW). Included in the structure is an EV Station for the hot red Tesla parked underneath. Meet Baja’s in-house designers, engineers and project managers and also make certain to visit Baja’s sponsored lobby lounge for food and beverages. I’m sure you’re already there. Booth 4155.

Improve your grip strength

Ace Clamp solar mount
AceClamps are factory-assembled clamps with patented design features that allow strong connections to standing-seam roof panels without the use of set screws or any other loose parts that could damage the surface of the roof panel. AceClamp designs have been vibration tested during the development stage and incorporate special locking features to ensure that the bolts do not back out when subjected to vibratory loads from wind flutter and light seismic activity. Booth 809.

OMG Roofing solar mount

OMG Roofing Products has introduced PowerGrip Universal for mounting solar racking systems on commercial roofs. PowerGrip Universal is designed to reduce or eliminate ballast in solar racking systems, so there’s less weight, material handling and labor on the roof. Made of heavy-duty cast aluminum, PowerGrip Universal offers 3,300 lbf of tensile strength, 2,500 lbf of shear strength and 2,000 lbf of compressive strength. It’s one of the strongest anchors on the market. Booth 629.

Solar Connections

The Standing Seam Power Clamp from Solar Connections can attach to virtually any standing seam profile and draws its strength from patent-pending WaveLock Technology with optional two, three and five points of attachment. The top can be custom drilled and tapped to fit any bolt configuration. Offering ease of installation, the Silver Bullet set screws include a rounded bullet tip to maximize strength while also keeping the paint finish and seam free from harm. Additionally, the Standing Seam Power Clamp is available in standard mill finish aluminum material, making it an item you can easily keep in stock when the need arises. Booth 1569.

Reinventing the ground mount

Nuance Energy

Nuance Energy’s patent-pending Osprey PowerPlatform could revolutionize ground-mounted solar projects. This earth anchor foundation system satisfies permitting requirements for virtually any site and soil type without the need for geotechnical reports or special inspections. It eliminates the need for heavy equipment or cement by enabling small, unskilled crews to install the entire platform quickly and easily using only handheld tools. Booth 2108.

Meet the 4G platform

Ginlong Solis inverter

Ginlong Technologies is now shipping its Solis 4G Platform. What you can see at SPI this year in booth 2427 is the Solis-1P(2.5-10K)-4G-US single phase string inverters, with high switching frequency; 2, 3 and 4 MPPTs designs; 97.8 percent peak efficiency (97.5 percent CEC); fan-less NEMA 4X / IP65 design, integrated AFCI; web-based and smartphone app monitoring, all under 44 lbs. The Solis 25K-66K-US three phase inverters are designed for all commercial and utility-scale installations with four MPPT designs and ultra-low start up volume that maximizes energy harvest. Booth 2427.

Five trackers to, um, track

SunLink TTD

SunLink’s TechTrack enables efficient load redistribution and allows the system to handle extreme wind with less steel, fewer foundations and lower cost. Now, TechTrack’s intelligent control system also delivers equally responsive control modes for snow, flood and O&M. The result is system level benefits, visible in SunLink’s Vertex data monitoring system. Rigorous testing to UL3703 further reduces permitting risk. Booth 3319.

Soltec

SF7 is the next-generation horizontal single-axis solar PV tracker from Soltec. Soltec says the SF7 enables up to 5 percent greater MW per acre than other trackers and does that with 54 percent fewer piles-per-MW, 15 percent less parts count and 58 percent fewer screw type connections than leading competitors. SF7 standard features include short tracker site-filling options, unique steep-slope tolerance of 17 percent NS, efficient self-powering and innovative cable management solutions for combining, fusing and protecting PV source circuits more economically. Booth 3640.

Solar FlexRack TDP 2 Turnkey Solar Tracker_2017

Solar FlexRack is launching its TDP Tracker with a new BalanceTrac design to increase energy yield and reduce balance of system costs. This TDP 2.0 Solar Tracker with BalanceTrac, optimized for 1,000- and 1,500-V modules, has greater rotational range of up to 120° and enables more modules per row (up to 90). The robust design delivers autonomous tables that increase site flexibility to maximize land use. Booth 2538.

AllEarth Renewable

AllEarth Renewables is showing off its new Gen 4 tracker which will be self-powered, to guard against the grid going down and will have expanded communication options, such as Wi-Fi, cellular and SD card enabled. It will come as a complete, pre-engineered system for easy, efficient shipping. Booth 626.

Array Technologies

Array Technologies is revealing the results of a recent TÜV Rheinland-backed independent report focused on solar tracker reliability. Array’s latest single-axis tracker, the DuraTrack HZ v3, is often touted for its reliability and lower cost of ownership. Array says DuraTrack HZ v3 is proven to be 300x less likely to experience catastrophic failure during wind events than more stow-reliant, single-row competitors. Booth 2919.

Page two has new on big-time collaborations, products for boosting performance, installing on shingles and more.

— Solar Builder magazine