Check out Solmetric’s new PVA-1500 PV Analyzer Kit at SPI

Solmetric PV analyzer

The PVA-1500 PV Analyzer Kit is a 1500 volt I-V curve tracer with built-in PV performance modeling and advanced wireless irradiance, temperature and tilt sensing from Solmetric. It provides unprecedented measurement throughput and accuracy and delivers deep insight into the performance of your arrays. You can see it for yourself at Solar Power International, booth 352.

In addition to the 1500V measurement capability, the PVA-1500 has a few additional enhancements over its predecessor, the PVA-1000S, including using WiFi to communicate to your tablet or laptop. This eliminates the USB dongle required for the PVA-1000S.

What’s new?

For each string, the PV Analyzer measures the I-V (current vs. voltage) and P-V (power vs. voltage) curves with a single button click. The measured results are compared to the expected performance, taking into account the irradiance and module cell temperature at the time of the I-V measurement. The I-V Unit communicates wirelessly to your Windows tablet or laptop (not included), enhancing safety and allowing freedom of movement during testing. Automated data analysis and reporting save you time.

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The PV Analyzer is designed to work as hard as you do. High measurement throughput means it can measure 1 MW in less than 2 hours–even in hot environments where other curve tracers shut down. In an example PV system with 1300V Voc, 16 strings per combiner box, and 5 minutes to move to next combiner box, the PVA can make more than 800 measurements at 25°C ambient and 250 measurements at 45°C ambient. The incident angle corrected SolSensor is able to make accurate irradiance readings in lower light conditions extending your working window.

I-V curve testing is the preferred method for commissioning, O&M, and troubleshooting of PV arrays because it provides the most complete performance measurement possible. Populations of curves can be analyzed quickly for outliers and data can be archived as a baseline for future reference if performance questions arise.

— Solar Builder magazine

Spin a wheel at BayWa’s booth and help give to charity at this year’s SPI

BayWa re

Global renewable energy developer, service provider and wholesaler, BayWa r.e. is partnering with three national advocacy and charitable organizations on a cool booth game at this year’s Solar Power International (booth 1838).

The Giving Game, as it’s being called will involve booth visitors spinning a prize wheel and voting for one of the chosen organizations: Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), Vote Solar and Grid Alternatives. At the end of the show, an award ceremony will announce the organization that has received the most votes and a $5,000 top prize. The runners up will also receive a donation based on the number of votes. The more people that play, the more money BayWa donates.

This program is a continued part of BayWa r.e. Giving, which focuses on providing increasing knowledge of and access to sustainable energy with STEM focused education opportunities, project donations and community engagement. BayWa r.e. has delivered 50 kW of free renewable energy projects and over $100k in funding since it was founded.

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“We believe securing a better, greener future through renewable energy is not just the nice thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for our generation and future generations,” said Jam Attari, CEO of BayWa r.e. Solar Projects LLC. “In addition to sharing how BayWa r.e is helping to deliver our vision in project communities, we also want to give visitors at our booth the opportunity to support renewable energy charities. We encourage everyone at SPI to take part in our ‘Giving Game’ and help raise money for these great causes.”

BayWa r.e. Giving pays particular attention to generating positive impact on the communities surrounding the company’s work. At the All Tribes Charter School in San Diego CA, BayWa r.e. delivered a 25kW rooftop solar system to provide free energy for the school, along with STEM materials to support education on the science and engineering behind the project. The school was set up by two pioneering educators to address the cultural and socio-economic challenges faced by Native American students. BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC has also contributed to natural disaster relief. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, the company contributed equipment and transportation to assist in the recovery efforts.

— Solar Builder magazine

SMA hosting utility-scale solar, storage forum during SPI 2017

utility-scale storage

Following large-scale storage forums in San Francisco and Kassel, Germany, as well as several smaller storage events worldwide, SMA will host another forum in Las Vegas during Solar Power International. The Utility-Scale Storage & PV Forum is geared toward solar professionals focused on utility-scale storage and solar, and will highlight cutting-edge solutions for utility-scale projects. The event will take place Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino.

“Our customers and stakeholders are eager to discuss utility-scale solutions with integrated storage and learn more about today’s evolving solar market,” said John Susa, executive vice president of sales for SMA America. “The upcoming forum in Las Vegas will be a great opportunity for discussion and education about the current landscape.”

Topics to be covered during the program include challenges and solutions for high-penetration PV networks, the value and uses cases for storage and how to achieve maximum ROI. It will also will highlight SMA’s full power class lineup of UL listed storage solutions for 1,000 and 1,500 V applications.

The forum will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m. In addition to educational sessions, the event will provide valuable industry networking. Seats are limited, and early registration is encouraged.

Head here to register.

— Solar Builder magazine

What is next for the solar industry? Executives share their thoughts

Get a group of solar industry leaders on a stage in 2016, and all discussions tend to veer into the existential. This is our takeaway from this year’s Solar Power International conference, which took place in Las Vegas, Sept. 12-15. Obviously everyone on those stages agreed that solar power should be the way of the present and is the way of the future, but the path to that future is the main subject of debate. How do we get there? Is it net-metering? What role do utilities play there? What is the collaborative solution?

The bad news is no one has the final answer on those questions, but the fact that these are questions in the first place is good news because it means the solar industry has a crucial role to play in the world going forward. We just have to pick a path. Here are some routes to get there, according to voices on stage during the general sessions over the course of three days.

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From left: Jeffrey Ball, Stanford University; David Crane, Pegasus Capital Advisors; Nat Kreamer, Spruce Financial; Steve Malnight, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Misalignment of interests

California is the world’s sixth largest economy, and the success of its solar industry should be instructive to the rest of the country and world. But as Nat Kreamer, president and CEO of Spruce Finance, pointed out, you can’t draw a straight line from California policy to every other state in the union. In places like Nevada, there is a misalignment of interests in the utility business model and public policy that instead leads to lines drawn in the sand.

“We ran monopolies to utilities to serve the public good. In California, they changed their business to serve the public good, but in a way to attract investment capital,” he said. “In New York, it’s shifting but almost everywhere else it’s not true. So what it means for distributed generation and residential solar is a fight.”

SunLink CEO insight

SunLink CEO Michael Maulick

Evolving business models

Does the business model for solar need to evolve? Several panelists thought so. Kreamer placed the industry’s missteps to this point in this context: “We have this really great technology and value proposition that people want to take, and it saves money and the planet, is good for community, has really long cash flows — we took that fun, exciting thing, and we sold it to people as an equity in a way that loses money.”

Without the benefit of hindsight though, distributed generation got its start in many places the way it had to, considering it wasn’t price competitive, noted David Crane, senior operation executive at Pegasus Capital Advisors. In retrospect, too many companies went public too early and hurt the industry’s ability to be nimble.

“Having run a public company … the public market doesn’t like divergence in strategy,” he said. “They want something predictable. I think it would have been better for the business model to evolve in nonpublic companies.”

“We were still so small as part of the energy mix that we could push the product out in a way that was inconvenient, but people were so motivated they would find their way through it,” said Craig Cornelius, president of NRG Renewables. “Being a supply-push industry, we put a lot of inconveniences on the customer or the electricity system that we inhabit. We now have to take those inconveniences upon ourselves.”

RELATED: Four steps for converting more solar sales 

Changing hearts and minds

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From left: Julia Hamm, SEPA; Kenneth Munson, Sunverge Energy; Ron Nichols, Southern California Edison.

The other battle that panelists continued to bring up was for the more nebulous concept of the hearts and minds of consumers. Is there a tipping point for solar panels to be the “next iPhone” or a part of a similar shift in the way people live?

Getting there is a challenge. As Crane put it, simply, “customers want cheaper rates to charge things.” But as Kreamer put it: “We need a change in behavior. You will fail if you only focus on price.”

As the industry has shown getting to this point though, changing prices are somewhat integral to changing behavior. To Lynn Jurich, CEO at Sunrun, the goal right now is almost to stay that same course, just work to reduce the complexity of everything — so, changing behavior through simplicity.

“From the consumer perspective, there needs to be more certainty and longevity in rate structures,” she said. “They want to know ‘what’s my bill before and what’s my bill after?’ Attempts for demand charges to complicate a bill halts all of this adoption. It is complicated to explain.”

But on the other hand, maybe adding all of this distributed generation to the grid involves too much complexity. That’s at least the utility side of the story. Ron Nichols, president of Southern California Edison, noted the sheer amount of customers they are trying to serve: “Just to meet load changes we had to make 122,000 changes short and long term. We have to make all of that work in a harmonious system that works every second.”

“When we look at solar, it’s a no brainer, but we look at it as its own entity instead of looking at it from the utility perspective,” said Michael Maulick, CEO of SunLink. “They are providing a great service, so how do we look at their problems with retiring coal-fired plants and make solar a viable alternative?”

“What we’re talking about is fundamentally upending the way power is generated, served and distributed. It’s going to be complex,” said Kenneth Munson, president and co-founder of Sunverge Energy. “How we bridge that is going to be driven by devices within the home that are going to be meant to interpret these complexities in real time to provide the solutions. We don’t necessarily have to have all the answers today.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Details on the next generation Home Energy Solution from Enphase

 

Enphase home solutions

This gives you an idea of what’s happening under the panels.

At Solar Power International we got an upclose look at the complete Home Energy Solution with IQ that Enphase Energy, Inc. is excited to push to the market in 2017. The plan for the Home Energy Solution is ambitious, as Enphase is trying to move past selling pieces and parts of a home PV system and evolve into a completely integrated solar, storage and energy management offering.

“Enphase is delivering on the strategy we outlined last year: to continually improve our solutions while driving down cost,” said Paul Nahi, president and CEO of Enphase Energy. “The Enphase Home Energy Solution with IQ meets the market’s need for a truly integrated solar, storage, and home energy management system that is even simpler to install and uses a single, intelligent platform.”

RELATED: Check out these five inverters on the show floor 

Enphase AC Module

This version of the AC module is slick. It won’t be ready to go until you slide it up and click it into place (as shown here).

The solution starts with company’s sixth-generation Enphase IQ Microinverter System, which supports high-powered 60- and 72-cell solar modules. They are 30 percent lighter than Enphase S-Series microinvertes and can be integrated in upcoming AC modules from LG and SolarWorld to offer even faster and simpler installations that save on soft costs.

The two-wire Enphase Q Cable is 50 percent lighter than the previous generation of Enphase trunk cable; the Enphase Q Aggregator offers simple “plug and play” connection for up to three branches on the roof; and the Enphase Q Combiner provides further installation and commissioning efficiency.

The Enphase Home Energy Solution with IQ uses a single technology platform for seamless management of the whole solution, enabling rapid commissioning via the Enphase Installer Toolkit; consumption monitoring with a metered Envoy and CTs; and energy insights from the Enlighten Software platform’s easy-to-use interface.

The Enphase IQ 6 microinverters comply with fixed power factor, voltage and frequency ride-through requirements, and meets current and known future requirements for distributed solar on utility networks, including Rule 21 in California and Hawaiian Electric Company Rule 14H.

The Enphase IQ 6 Microinverter System is expected to be available in North America in the first quarter of 2017.

— Solar Builder magazine