Solar Frontier shifts into independent power producer role with huge solar project acquisition

Solar Frontier Americas continues to develop its pipeline of over 1 gigawatt of utility scale solar power generation plants

Solar Frontier Americas (SFA) continues to develop its pipeline of over 1 GW of utility-scale solar power generation plants. The SFA completed solar project pictured is located in Southern California.

Canadian Solar’s wholly owned subsidiary Recurrent Energy LLC completed the sale of its 150 MW ac/210 MWp Mustang Two solar project to Solar Frontier Americas, which is starting to get into the independent power producer business.

“With this important acquisition, SFA further expands its U.S. business to become an independent power producer, an owner of operating electric power facilities,” said Charles Pimentel, CEO of Solar Frontier Americas’ IPP business unit. “We already have a substantial greenfield pipeline and are actively acquiring utility-scale projects and development assets to further scale our business.”

Located on 1,400 acres in Kings County, California, the Mustang Two project is expected to create approximately 400 jobs during peak construction. In this partnership, Recurrent Energy will continue to manage the development of the project, readying it for construction; Solar Frontier Americas will finance and manage the construction of the project, which is slated to achieve commercial operation in 2020. The project will then be operated by Solar Frontier Americas’ growing independent power producer (“IPP”) business.

Once the project is operational, the energy generated by the solar power facility will be split between two long-term power purchase agreements: Peninsula Clean Energy (the community choice energy agency which serves San Mateo County) is contracted to receive 100 MWac, and the Modesto Irrigation District will acquire 50 MWac. The combined energy generation from the two PPAs will power 37,500 homes with clean electricity.

“The Mustang Two transaction is the latest example of the strong demand we see globally for Canadian Solar’s high quality solar assets, given our ability to partner at various points in a project’s development.” said Shawn Qu, chairman and chief executive officer of Canadian Solar. “We are pleased to partner in this transaction with Solar Frontier Americas, given its extensive solar project development and construction experience.”

— Solar Builder magazine

REC Group launches two new monocrystalline PV modules with extended warranty

TP 2S Mono 72_silver_lowrez

TwinPeak 2S Mono 72 Silver

REC Group, the largest European brand for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, announced the production start of two new monocrystalline products based on its award winning TwinPeak technology.

Using p-type monocrystalline PERC cells, the 60-cell TwinPeak 2 Mono is rated up to 320 Wp and the 72-cell TwinPeak 2S Mono 72 up to 380 Wp. The new panels bring heightened efficiency to REC’s portfolio and will be the company’s first products to come with a new, extended warranty.

Building on REC’s long experience with half-cut cell technology, the new mono products offer increased power output per square meter and improved performance in shaded conditions. This makes the REC TwinPeak 2 Mono a solid choice for residential and small commercial rooftop installations where high power is required in limited space. The larger, but at 22 kg still lightweight, REC TwinPeak 2S Mono 72 enables large commercial and utility installations to benefit from the lower balance of system costs inherent in this format.

Order volumes for the new panels are already buoyant, early evidence of the clear product benefits and REC’s continued position as a leader for half-cut PERC cell technology. REC Group was the first manufacturer to introduce half-cut cell solar panels to mass production in 2014. To date, more than 2 GW of REC TwinPeak solar panels with half-cut cells have been installed around the globe.

“For two decades, REC Group has been continuously pushing the boundaries of solar cell technology. With the launch of TwinPeak in 2014, we were the first to commercialize half-cut cell technology. Following on from the launch of the N-Peak earlier this year, we are now transferring our years of expertise into mono-PERC products,” says Steve O’Neil, CEO at REC Group.

The new products come just four months after REC began production of its brand-new N-Peak Series – the world’s first n-type mono solar panel with half-cut cells and twin design. As with the N-Peak, the new mono products are manufactured at REC’s production site in Singapore.

TwinPeaks at a glance

• Up to 320 Wp for the 60-cell, up to 380 Wp for the 72-cell panel
• TwinPeak 2S Mono 72 available in 1500 volt
• REC’s new premium warranty: doubling the product warranty duration from 10 to 20 years; 0.5% annual degradation over 25-year power warranty for 72-cell panel, 0.7% for the 60-cell version
• 120 or 144 half-cut monocrystalline PERC cells
• 100% PID free
• At 22 kg, industry-leading lightweight 72-cell panel, yet robust construction thanks to REC’s unique frame structure
• Improved performance in shaded conditions
• Lower balance of system costs

— Solar Builder magazine

Understand the pros and cons of software and communications decisions

software and communications strategy

At times, it is optimal to have connected devices in place. At other times, it creates another point of failure.

As is true in every industry today, solar installations are becoming smarter and more connected by leveraging the power of real-time data, remote controls and responsiveness to improve project and product performance. Project owners and financing partners cheer software platforms that enable sophisticated communications.

Without question, software and communications can play an important role in many storage projects. First and foremost, battery communication capabilities may be required or at least strongly recommended when integrating with certain inverters, chargers and other power electronics.

At the residential level, such software and communications allow for higher level monitoring capabilities that provide both the installer and homeowner with granular data on system performance and health. Software can also improve ease-of-programming.

When it comes to C&I projects, software and communications plays an even more important role. These large-scale projects often combine large numbers of interconnected technology assets and hardware that require communications and software to communicate with one another and perform as an integrated system.

But be careful…

That said, as important as these technologies are to the future of the renewable energy industry, be sure to proceed with caution.

At times, it is optimal to have connected devices in place. At other times, it creates another point of failure. When an installation’s on-site management is dependent on interconnectivity through networks and airwaves, what happens when those conduits cease to function?

In an environment in which renewable energy + storage deployments have become more and more critical in the face of escalating catastrophic events, it’s important to recognize that software and communications can create barriers to energy resilience when the grid and Internet networks are unavailable. The result is stranded assets that do not have the ability to turn back on without the intervention of a highly trained professional.

After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, for example, homeowners did not have the ability to bring their systems back online, and expert software technicians were unavailable to service offline inverters and energy storage systems for some time. The same issue has posed problems in remote communities, where technical expertise to reset and restore system function has not been available locally. In this kind of situation it often makes sense to have a simpler, user-friendly battery system design.

Be sure to weigh the added cost and complexity of installing a smart storage system. With additional wiring and programming required, installation can be longer and more cumbersome without added benefit.

Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to communications and software. In some cases, connectivity is essential to project success. But in other situations, building resiliency is better achieved through a simpler approach that empowers the end user to own, control, manage and fix their own systems. The key for installers is to understand both and be able to advise their customers as to which is most advantageous for their unique circumstance and project objects.

This post and the entire 12 Days of Storage was contributed by SimpliPhi.

— Solar Builder magazine

ComEd commercial customers can now sumbit for solar system rebates ($250 per kW)

comed solar rebate

Commercial and industrial ComEd customers can begin submitting applications for rebates of $250 per kilowatt of installed solar energy, a deal that was approved last month by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The rebate will reduce up-front installation costs and spur renewable energy development, and it is available to ComEd business customers who adopted solar after June 1, 2017.

Rebate amounts will be based on the capacity of a company’s solar project. A 1,000-kilowatt project, for example, will be eligible for a rebate of $250,000. Rebates will be fulfilled within 60 days of receipt of a completed application.

“Our new rebate program is a strong demonstration of the commitment we’re making to increase access to renewable energy and create new value and more choices for our customers,” said Veronica Gomez, senior vice president of regulatory and energy policy, ComEd. “This is an important milestone for ComEd and for customers seeking clean energy alternatives, and it will further reinforce Illinois’ growing reputation for energy innovation.”

The rebate is also available to community supply project owners, operators or customers receiving community supply service. Owners or operators of a community supply project produce and provide energy to the grid, while subscribers to the project receive credits based on their share of the total energy produced.

This rebate program rewards commercial and industrial customers for generating clean energy much like ComEd’s residential net metering customers already receive credits on their bill when they produce more energy than they use with a private solar energy system installed at their home.

— Solar Builder magazine

Xcel Energy tabs SunShare to build six new community solar gardens in Colorado

SunShare community solar

SunShare was selected in a competitive bidding process by Xcel Energy to develop six new community solar gardens totaling 12 MWdc and will be able to serve more than 2,500 residential households in the Denver metro area as well as additional municipal, governmental, and educational entities.

“We’re very proud that SunShare will be able to continue our mission of bringing community solar to residential customers. We look forward to building our first 100 percent residential community solar gardens in Colorado and appreciate Xcel Energy’s commitment to this program,” said David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare’s founder and CEO. “The entire concept of community solar was created to enable people who can’t install solar panels on their rooftops to have access to the benefits of solar power. Many developers across the country focus on obtaining commercial subscribers, but SunShare’s mission has always been to give more individual consumers powerful options for contributing to a healthier environment.”

Xcel Energy shows its path to 100 percent renewable generation by 2050

The six community solar gardens will service approximately 2,600 subscribers upon completion with construction expected to start in 2019. SunShare expects the individual solar gardens to be located in Jefferson County, Adams County, and Arapahoe County. SunShare has now completed more than 27 MW of community solar gardens in Colorado.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to bring our customers programs that meet their energy needs in a zero-carbon manner,” said Jerome Davis, regional vice president, Xcel Energy—Colorado. “The continued participation in these voluntary programs such as Renewable*Connect, Solar*Rewards, and Solar*Rewards Community shows Coloradans preference for reliable, clean, and low-cost energy that we are proud to deliver.”

SunShare has helped build the community solar programs in Colorado and Minnesota, the nation’s first and largest, both of which are part of Xcel Energy’s service area. Community solar gardens enable homeowners, renters, government organizations, and small businesses that may not otherwise have the ability to install solar panels on their home or building to participate in and benefit from renewable energy.

— Solar Builder magazine