Quick Mount PV doubles its manufacturing production to 1.2 gigawatts

Quick Mount PV

Quick Mount PV, a leading American manufacturer of watertight solar roof mounting and racking systems, is doubling its manufacturing production. The company is adding a second shift for the first time at its Walnut Creek, Calif., manufacturing facility — increasing the company’s annual production capacity to 1.2 gigawatts. The announcement comes on the heels of the announcement of the company’s facility expansion to the East Coast. Quick Mount PV manufactures a full range of solar mounting and racking systems for all roof types with the highest rated waterproofing at their California manufacturing facility.

“Rooftop solar is poised for a big year, and Quick Mount PV is ready to provide its industry-leading racking and mounting to fuel that growth,” said Yann Brandt, Quick Mount PV’s President. “Installers understand that quality racking and mounting is critical to the long-term success of rooftop solar–that recognition is what is powering our expansion. In addition, our training and support help bring down the costs for the consumer.”

Quick Mount says its training and support has provided the company with protection against recent aluminum tariffs and trade war issues. By combining roof ready racking and mounting, with training and support, Quick Mount provides solar installers the ability to install more kilowatts of PV solar faster — mitigating, in part, the increase in aluminum costs.

Quick Mount PV offers a comprehensive suite of seamlessly integrated systems providing everything needed to install PV modules on any roof type. With unsurpassed R&D, engineering, product testing and ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturing in the United States, Quick Mount PV is committed to producing the industry’s most advanced solar mounting and racking systems. The superiority of the company’s mounting products is demonstrated by the fact that more than ten million Quick Mount PV roof attachments have been installed with zero leaks.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower secures funding to bolster its residential solar lease business

sunpower logo

SunPower has secured financing commitments for its residential solar lease program (with Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital and SunStrong Capital Holdings) that will make its financing provisions “more attractive” and will supplement the solar loan and cash sale alternatives currently offered by the company. SunPower has provided solar lease financing options to customers since 2010.

The new fund is structured as a levered tax equity partnership with a multi-party forward purchase commitment, allowing generation of upfront cash margins for residential solar leases. The financing commitments for this new fund are being provided largely from a repeat group of loan and equity providers that continue to have strong long-term relationships with SunPower and Hannon Armstrong.

“SunPower’s strong suite of acquisition options, and our technologically superior solar energy solutions, allows us to continue meeting growing customer demand,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board. “Thanks to our financing partners, who share our clean energy future goals, we’re able to ensure funding to meet the needs of those customers who desire a leasing option.”

Additionally, SunStrong has acquired a residential lease portfolio from Capital Dynamics. This transaction adds to SunStrong’s existing high-quality asset portfolio with the addition of more than 41 MW and 5,100 residential systems.

“This transaction reinforces SunStrong’s belief in the long-term value of owning high quality solar systems and SunPower’s commitment to providing on-going products and services to our customers,” said Werner.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the sole structuring and placement agent for the cash equity and multi-draw term loan, as well as the sole tax equity investor. Additional equity capital was provided by SunPower, Hannon Armstrong and their joint venture SunStrong, which holds equity interests in more than 55,000 residential solar energy systems.

Last year, SunPower’s U.S. residential business saw annual deployment growth of more than 15 percent, bringing the total number of American homes with SunPower solar to over 275,000 consumers.

— Solar Builder magazine

DNV GL launches SolarFarmer PV plant modeling software to handle complex terrain

As the demand for solar energy increases, solar plant design are becoming more challenging as the terrain becomes more complex. This will require PV plant design software that can perform more reliable modeling for accurate energy calculations. This makes DNV GL’s new software, SolarFarmer, intriguing. Launched at Intersolar Europe this year, the SolarFarmer software models, designs and analyzes solar PV plants, but is especially aimed at accurately and efficiently handling layouts in increasingly complex terrain.

“It’s exciting to be supporting the PV industry with SolarFarmer,” says Tony Mercer, Head of Department for renewables software at DNV GL. “The software is built from the ground up with scale in mind and brings together layout, energy calculation and automation, giving our customers new and efficient ways to explore and optimize their PV project development,” he says.

SolarFarmer can be used for conceptual and detailed design and analysis for solar PV plants. It combines thoroughly validated PV simulation algorithms with a user-friendly, modern user interface allowing quick configuration of PV plant designs and simulation of PV layouts.

SolarFarmer offers:

• Design and analysis of development of solar PV plants, from conceptual model to detailed solar plant design
• Efficient and traceable method for modelling in complex terrain including our model for submodule electrical mismatch
• Design time savings using automated layout for fixed tilt and trackers
• Thoroughly-validated models for accurate energy production calculations
• Expert modelling; SolarFarmer engineers are working directly with DNV GL experts to improve modelling of components during the design phase, such as modelling for thin-film modules
• Sub-hourly energy assessments – we know as experts that hourly energy assessment can lead to errors e.g. underestimating inverter clipping losses during cloud coverage. SolarFarmer provides sub-hourly energy assessment calculations

— Solar Builder magazine

Q CELLS earns Top Performer recognition in PVEL’s 2019 PV Module Reliability Scorecard

QCELLS award

We reported on the eyebrow raising solar module reliability issues PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) uncovered in its latest PV Module Reliability Scorecard, but we didn’t spotlight which company graded out as the Top Performer. This year’s PVEL PV Module Reliability Scorecard Top Performer was Hanwha Q CELLS Co., Ltd. one of the largest solar cell and module manufacturers in the world — the fourth year in a row that Q CELLS has been selected for this accolade.

Q CELLS earned the Top Performer recognition with its Q.PEAK DUO series of high-performance monocrystalline half-cell modules. The Q.PEAK DUO series of modules are manufactured using the Company’s patent-protected, unique passivation technology, which is a key ingredient in Q.ANTUM Technology. For better product quality and reliability, Q.ANTUM Technology includes additional cutting-edge technological and security features like excellent Anti-LID (light induced degradation) and Anti-PID (potential induced degradation) performance, as well as Hot-Spot Protect and traceable quality with Tra.QTM, which is Q CELLS’ unique laser identification to protect against counterfeiting.

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Hee Cheul (Charles) Kim, CEO of Q CELLS, said: “We are pleased to announce that we have once again been recognized as a Top Performer by the leading testing lab PVEL. The very DNA of Q CELLS is rooted in German R&D excellence and a desire to consistently deliver top-quality renewable energy products and services. To contribute to the higher customer value and the growth of the global solar industry, Q CELLS will continue to strive towards even greater excellence in product quality and reliability with all our might.”

PVEL is one of the world’s leading reliability and performance testing laboratories in the solar industry. As an independent laboratory, PVEL tests PV modules from leading solar manufacturers annually, and publishes the PV Module Reliability Scorecard based on these test results every year. The PV Module Reliability Scorecard is recognized as one of the most comprehensive publicly available PV module reliability test results comparisons, and the title of Top Performer – that is granted to high-ranked companies – is accepted throughout the industry as a reliable mark of high product quality and reliability.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tesla drops to third in U.S. Solar Installer Rankings due to its strategy shift

dropping PPA prices

Tesla installed 6.3 percent of U.S. residential solar capacity in the first quarter of 2019, marking the first time the company has fallen to third place since Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables has been tracking installer market shares in its U.S. PV Leaderboard, dating back to Q1 2013. Vivint Solar reclaimed the number two for the first time since falling to third in Q3 2017.

Meanwhile, Sunrun which overtook Tesla for first place in the second quarter of 2018, gained market share over both Tesla and Vivint Solar. Sunrun installed 11 percent of all home solar capacity installed in the first quarter of the year, notching its highest share ever.

Leading U.S. residential solar installers

Tesla Sunrun market share

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables U.S. PV Leaderboard

The top three residential solar installers combined to install 25 percent of all new U.S. residential capacity in the first quarter of the year. This is a significant departure from Tesla’s (then SolarCity’s) peak quarters when it alone accounted for more than a third of the entire U.S. residential solar market.

“Tesla has essentially thrown in the towel on pursuing growth in the residential solar space because it has concluded that acquiring customers is simply too expensive,” writes Austin Perea, Wood Mackenzie Senior Solar Analyst, in a recent report on Tesla’s store closures. “Rather, Tesla will rely on its brand power and low-cost referral methods to keep the solar business afloat until it stabilizes.”

From the same report, Perea writes:

“For Tesla, the installation bleeding lasted into 2018 when its national residential installation volume fell another 41% annually despite other national installers experiencing growth. Vivint and Sunrun’s direct businesses grew 7% and 37%, respectively. But even as other installers grew in 2018, Tesla’s standing continued to have a substantial impact on the national residential solar market.”

According to the report, in 2017 the U.S. residential solar market as a whole fell 15 percent. However, if you were to exclude Tesla from the equation, the market would have only fallen two percent. Similarly, the residential market grew 7 percent in 2018, however excluding Tesla entirely, it would have grown by 15 percent. “Clearly, Tesla had a marked drag on residential solar in 2017 and, to a lesser degree, in 2018,” writes Perea.

“Despite stronger growth from the rest of the market, the growth outlook for 2019 – like 2017 and 2018 – continues to be hampered by Tesla’s decisions to cut back on its customer acquisition channels, though less severely than in previous years,” said Perea.

According to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report, Wood Mackenzie forecasts the U.S. residential solar market to grow a modest three percent by the end of this year.

“Tesla stepping away from being a growth driver for solar reaffirms our hypothesis that long-term national growth will continue to be driven by smaller local and regional players and less reliant on national players, though Sunrun and Vivint will remain important,” said Perea. “Indeed, in the long run, it seems that Tesla’s decisions may send a vital message about how solar is sold.”

Additional key findings

• CS Energy (formerly Conti Solar) rose to the top of the commercial solar installer rankings with nearly 48 MW of installations across New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Rhode Island in Q1 2019.

• Constellation leads the rankings for commercial solar asset ownership this quarter, commanding 5% of the market.

• Both Sunrun and Vivint Solar have now surpassed SolarCity/Tesla as the largest residential solar installers in the US.

• Loanpal leads the financier rankings for the first time ever, less than 1.5 years after entering the solar loan space.

— Solar Builder magazine