Coldwell Solar to install 14-MW of Solar FlexRack trackers across 12 locations

Solar FlexRack announced its solar pipeline agreement of 14 MW to install their TDP™ Turnkey Solar Trackers in 12  installations in California for Coldwell Solar.

Solar FlexRack TDP Solar Trackers Installed in Coldwell Solar Agricultural Sites in California

Steve Daniel, EVP of Solar FlexRack said, “Coldwell Solar’s in-depth experience and proven track record has made them the top solar provider serving the agricultural market. Solar FlexRack is pleased to be selected as the supply partner for these solar projects.”

Agricultural operations benefit from distributed solar energy generation that can significantly reduce their electricity costs, stabilize rates and support energy independence. Solar FlexRack’s TDP Turnkey Tracker is an ideal solution for these types of projects. The TDP solar trackers include a full suite of project services and support ensuring projects avoid installation pitfalls. The TDP Tracker bundle ensures systems are constructed for long-term performance and reliability ultimately saving costs on solar project budgets.

“Coldwell Solar performs a thorough inspection of a property to determine the most appropriate, site-specific, solar solution that maximizes cost savings. Solar FlexRack’s TDP Turnkey Solar Trackers were the optimal solution for these agricultural installations ensuring successful projects”, said David Hood, CEO, Coldwell Solar.

Spread the Wealth: We look at the value decentralized tracker systems bring to a project

— Solar Builder magazine

Mounting Pressure: Today’s large-scale PV boom demands new levels of service from racking companies

Solar FlexRack

For the first time ever, in 2016, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. In total, solar accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types, and these big numbers are coming via big installs as the utility-scale segment grew 145 percent from 2015.

“In a banner year for U.S. solar, a record 22 states each added more than 100 MW,” says Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar research. “While U.S. solar grew across all segments, what stands out is the double-digit gigawatt boom in utility-scale solar, primarily due to solar’s cost competitiveness with natural gas alternatives.”

The trend shows no signs of reversing, and as utility-scale solar projects continue to boom, the industry demand for material and logistical services will keep increasing pressure on suppliers like never before.

Raw materials bottleneck

“It’s a simple matter of supply and demand,” says Chuck Galbreath, VP of supply chain at SunLink. “If I have more time, I can find more options and drive down costs. When schedules are compressed and I’m forced into a tight delivery window, I have to go with the supplier who is able to deliver in the time allotted, which allows less room for negotiation.”

Others agree: “We often encounter requests for expedited finished product that can be more aggressive than the lead times from the steel mills. For our proprietary racking systems, OMCO is now maintaining a responsible level of steel inventory to support these instances,” states Todd Owen, General Manager of OMCO Solar.

The time pinch has led to more in-house manufacturing. “The top five racking manufacturers have reached economies of scale where additional volume no longer decreases price, forcing manufacturers to vertically integrate by producing more parts and material in-house,” says Paul Benvie, VP of engineering at TerraSmart.

Because the sector is so dependent upon the steel market, finished product pricing can be volatile. The recent anti-dumping lawsuits spurred market increases that were felt in all steel industries, including solar. Benvie says TerraSmart has countered the pricing roller coaster by making strategic hedge buys and leaning on suppliers to honor and hold pricing so they are capable of manufacturing product at a reliable price point.

To help combat delivery delays, more mounting companies also are establishing regional centers. “Steel delivered to and from opposite coasts can have a significant impact on costs and schedules,” Benvie says. “Strategic manufacturers have set up facilities that are centrally located and/or have different branches at opposite ends of the country. For example, TerraSmart has opened a new manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ohio, and can manufacture identical parts out of the Southeast, Southwest and New England.”

RELATED: We look at the value decentralized tracker systems bring to a project 

Timelines keep shrinking

“As the solar industry matures and adopts the more typical rigid large-scale construction approach to project schedules, timelines have been compressed and suppliers are now expected to adhere to strict, tight daily schedules,” says Nick Troia, VP of corporate quality and project management at SunLink. “It is a more professional atmosphere that in some cases is straining the less sophisticated suppliers.”

The compression is substantial: “We ask customers for a 12-week lead time, but in this market we are lucky if we get eight,” says Larry Reeves, a project manager for Array Technologies Inc. (ATI). “Schedules are crazy now.”

Seasonal variations also intensify weather constraints. “The solar industry is challenging, as many financiers, developers and EPCs push to close projects out in Q4,” Benvie says. “In New England, this can be increasingly challenging with projects kicking off as the daylight hours get shorter, temperatures drop and field conditions deteriorate.”

“Without getting into the dollars and cents, delays can be very costly, such as the triggering of liquidated damages that could accumulate at thousands of dollars per day or by hindering project completion for a tax credit deadline,” observes Troia.

Losses can be the cost of customer maintenance, too. In some of these unavoidable situations, someone involved in the project has to recognize and proactively eliminate a delay before it happens.

“We believe we are truly partners with our clients, so we commonly shoulder costs or increase productivity to minimize the sting of a delay, regardless of who caused it,” Benvie says.

Next, we look at the turnkey services and systems designed for saving time on project development.

— Solar Builder magazine

2016 Editor’s Choice Projects of the Year: Beyond the Project Impact

beardWe say it every year: When it comes to solar projects, we are all winners. We already announced the winners of our 2016 Project of the Year vote, but we at Solar Builder liked a bunch of the other submissions too. Here is the third in our series of Editor’s Choice winners. These are projects that didn’t garner the most votes from readers but we felt were still pretty darn cool too.

Previous Editor’s Choice posts

 

Calipatria Solar Power Plant

Calipatria-Project-3

Due to the flat terrain, low regional labor costs, high irradiance levels of the sun and support from local jurisdictions, this is an exceptional area for solar production. The Calipatria solar power plant reaps the advantages of the area and contributes to local economies through employment, tax revenues and local business services support. But, even cooler, San Diego Gas and Electric recognized Solar Frontier Americas for exceeding their supplier diversity goals while working on Calipatria. The California Public Utility Commission has set a goal for the state’s investor-owned utilities to procure at least 21.5 percent of their expenses, including electric and fuel costs, with Diverse Business Enterprises (DBEs). DBEs include women-, minority-, service-disabled veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses. San Diego Gas and Electric encourages power project developers to subcontract with DBEs during development and construction as well.

Location: Calipatria, Calif.

Size: 21.99 MW DC

Completed: February 2016

Developer: Solar Frontier Americas Development LLC

Contractor: DEPCOM Power

Modules: Solar Frontier

Inverters: Bonfiglioli

Mounting: Clavijo Single-Axis Tracker


 

Pahrump Solar Project

PahrumpProject_Uneven-Terrain

This project required collaboration by Valley Electric Association, Bombard Renewable Energy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Mojave Desert tortoises discovered at the project site. Key to this was the project’s racking system from Solar FlexRack. Because of the versatility of the racking system, all the special onsite requirements to protect the tortoises’ habitat were able to be met. The project is a milestone example of balancing the construction of a renewable energy project and protecting the indigenous wildlife, particularly in this case — the desert tortoise. It demonstrates how development, construction and wildlife conservation can work together to achieve mutual environmental goals.

parhupLocation: Pahrump, Nev.

Size: 17.5 MW

Completed: July 2016

Developer: Valley Electric Association

Contractor: Bombard Renewable Energy

Modules: SolarWorld

Inverters: Yaskawa-Solectria Solar

Mounting: Solar FlexRack

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar FlexRack completes Black & Veatch bankability study of its Turnkey Tracker

Solar FlexRack tracker

Taken by your Solar Builder when he was getting a sneak peek of the technology earlier in the year.

Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals and an innovative leader in photovoltaic mounting and tracking solutions, announced today that Black & Veatch has performed a bankability study of its TDPTM Turnkey Tracker. The technical report covers the tracker’s design, reliability, durability, installation, operations and maintenance.

According to GTM Research, over 70% of the US ground-mount systems are now being installed with trackers. Tracker installation growth in 2017 is expected to be 19%.

Jeff Gwinnell, President and C.E.O. of Solar FlexRack said, “We’re pleased to complete this bankability report and to further customers’ confidence in the powerful TDP Turnkey Tracker solution that reduces project installation risks and costs.”

RELATED: On the Scene: Redefining ‘in-house’ with Solar FlexRack 

Solar FlexRack’s TDP Tracker design leaves rows easily accessible for operation and maintenance. Its smart backtracking maximizes energy production. Bundling the high-tech tracker with best-in-class project services, provides next-level services and support to commercial and utility-scale solar project developers, EPCs and installers.

From preliminary layout and design, through geotechnical engineering, construction and commissioning, Solar FlexRack’s turnkey tracker solution delivers an optimized, robust tracker, along with a team of experts with decades of solar experience to ensure your project’s success. To learn more about the TDP Tracker Solution, head here.

— Solar Builder magazine

Iowa’s largest utility-scale solar project installed with Solar FlexRack’s G3 Fixed Tilt system

Solar FlexRack Installed in the largest solar project in Iowa

The largest utility-scale solar power generation project in Iowa, a 2.3-MW plant (the largest of the series, which will include five systems and total 5.5 MW) was just installed using Solar FlexRack’s G3 Fixed Tilt system. When completed, the five solar electric plants will reduce over 5 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

Developed and installed by Azimuth Energy, the installations under construction are primarily located in the central and eastern regions of the Hawkeye State. Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), Iowa’s largest cooperative energy provider, will commission the carbon-free, solar plants and the clean energy will be delivered to their membership. CIPCO is part of a powerful movement among electric cooperatives to procure sustainable solar power as a part of their energy offering. (Cooperatives across the US have over 500 MW of solar power installed or in the works.)

RELATED: New single-axis tracker, turnkey service launched by Solar FlexRack 

The G3 Fixed Tilt

One of the most cost-effective racking solutions, Solar FlexRack’s G3 Series was independently verified for its ease and speed of installation.

Steve Daniel, EVP of Solar FlexRack said, “We are pleased to have been selected for these projects by an engineering, construction and development support services company as dedicated to quality work and customer service as Azimuth Energy. The rigors of their quality assurance program distinguishes their work and helps to ensure long-term project reliability.”

“We work closely with our clients and want to ensure we find the best solutions for their needs. Solar FlexRack met our demanding requirements, providing the most versatile solution with the ability to accommodate varying terrains and duplicate design configurations – reducing engineering time and installation cost,” said Marc Lopata, President, Azimuth Energy.

— Solar Builder magazine