Solar Builder 2018 Bronze Project of the Year: Gallup River Plain Solar Farm

Solar Builder Project of the year bronze

Standard Solar Inc., a nationwide solar energy development and financing company, put in a ton of work in all phases of development to complete a 9.8-MW solar project for the City of Gallup, N.M.

“We’re excited that our unique ability to finance this project played a role in bringing it to its completion,” says Scott Wiater, president and CEO of Standard Solar. “City officials at all levels were committed to making this project a success, and it was an honor for us to be involved.”

Found in the Flood

Bronze_Gallup Solar Farm_Pic3

Gallup River Plain Solar Farm | Gallup, N.M. | 9.8 MW

  • Developer: Standard Solar, Mangan Renewables, Wiser Capital
  • Contractor: M Electric Inc.
  • Modules: REC
  • Inverters: ABB
  • Racking: GameChange Solar

The land for this project was located in a 100-year floodplain, which meant designing a system to withstand the conditions created by a flood of that magnitude. Standard Solar found a company that could design both the racking system and the pile foundations supporting it, but in its design process, they determined the major factor contributing to the pile design shouldn’t be the base-flood elevation condition, but the wind load — and designed it accordingly.

The PV array was elevated to prevent maximum expected flood waters from reaching the PV modules and other critical electrical components. The ground clearance of the PV array, when at maximum tilt, ranges from 3 ft on the east side to 6 ft on the west side. The inverters and combiner boxes were also all installed at heights designed to exceed maximum water levels.

Additionally, though the site was only 8 MWac, it required two separate points of interconnection to avoid overloading a single feeder on the City of Gallup’s Alison substation. The site was split into two 4-MWac interconnections to two separate feeders.

Bronze_ City of Gallup

On the financial side, Standard Solar negotiated a power-purchase agreement that did not require any upfront cost to complete the installation of the solar power plant. Even better, the city will pay the solar firm a flat rate for the production generated by the system over 20 years.

“This array will have a huge impact on the City of Gallup and its future,” says Richard Matzke, Gallup electric director. “When the opportunity to protect our environment and save our citizens’ money presented itself, we were thrilled to take advantage. We appreciate everyone involved in the project for helping us bring it to fruition.”

The solar farm is expected to generate more than 20 million kWh of power annually saving the city approximately $785,000 and providing nearly 10 percent of the city’s energy use. The solar farm, constructed on approximately 31 acres of city-owned land south of Interstate Highway 40, will generate enough electricity to power 2,500 homes and offset production of 3,500,000 lbs of carbon dioxide annually. The project provided local employment opportunities for 58 jobs during the construction phase and two ongoing positions.

Standard Solar financed the project and will own and operate the array. Mangan Renewables, a division of Mangan Inc., developed the project in partnership with Wiser Capital and their proprietary underwriting platform.

— Solar Builder magazine

Standard Solar combines six solar sites for 38-MW New York community solar project

Standard Solar

Standard Solar is building 38 megawatts (MW) of community distributed generation projects in New York through the acquisition of six projects from US Light Energy (formerly Solitude Solar), a community solar development company. The community solar projects will be constructed on land parcels totaling approximately 180 acres and will provide subscribers with the benefits of solar energy without the cost of equipment, installation and maintenance, directly contributing to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to achieve 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

The six project sites, including one re-purposed landfill, are in the towns of Hunter, Clifton Park, Turin, Croghan and Denmark. They are located in two different utility territories across three different NYISO Load Zones. The power generated by the arrays will provide cost-saving solar electricity to both residential and small commercial subscribers.

Overall, the solar farms will consist of approximately 111,765 solar panels, annually generating approximately 46,725,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. This output is sufficient to power 3,775 typical American homes for a year.

sb-econference-web-post

“New York has one of the most active community solar markets in the country, significantly boosted by the NY-Sun Initiative, Gov. Cuomo’s $1 billion initiative to advance the acceleration of solar in the state,” explained Scott Wiater, President & CEO, Standard Solar. “We are proud to have the unique ability to finance and construct impactful community solar projects that will bring the benefits of clean, renewable energy to even more residents in the state.”

“We are excited and grateful to be working with Standard Solar on the first of these community solar projects here in our home state of New York,” said Mark Richardson, President and CEO of US Light Energy. “Standard Solar’s financial strength, proven construction capabilities, and their position in the marketplace make them a perfect fit for us. We could not have asked for a better partner to work with on this community solar project portfolio.”

A recent report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and Vote Solar, says that 50 to 75 percent of U.S. consumers don’t have access to conventional rooftop installations. “This is what makes community solar such a great solution—anyone located in the area around one of the six projects can subscribe to the clean energy produced by the panels and get credits on their regular utility bill,” continued Wiater. “Customers don’t need to worry about installing panels on their property and all crediting is done virtually through their utility company, including a pay-as-you-go option. Unlike typical energy sources, a solar farm offers local, clean energy that offsets a customer’s electric bill with predictable rates and terms.”

With access to $500 million in low-cost project capital available from international energy giant Énergir, Standard Solar’s parent company, Standard Solar can easily remove financing barriers from projects allowing the project, and the savings that come with it to flourish.

— Solar Builder magazine

Six solar industry storylines to watch from Solar Power International 2018

Q Cells

Photo of a cool booth setup.

Your Solar Builder editor entered the whirlwind of news, numbers and handshaking that is Solar Power International and emerged with a notepad filled with gibberish. What language is this? What secrets does it hold? We sent it to a forensics lab, the archaeological department at Oxford and the guy with wild hair on Ancient Aliens for their interpretations. After this thorough analysis, we believe these are the top solar story lines in a post-SPI world …

1. Focus shifts from federal politics to local action

You get the sense that the solar industry has finally punted on trying to waste much more time inching the message boulder up the current administration’s hill and is now putting those resources into local efforts. This is likely the better route to go anyway, and the initiatives announced at SPI could do the trick if developed.

Just before SPI kicked off, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The Solar Foundation unveiled the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) initiative, which is the latest collective effort of the industry to streamline permitting. Reforms include: A safety and skills training and certification program that allows residential and small commercial solar and battery storage installers to attest that their projects are compliant with applicable codes, to eliminate traditional multi-step permitting processes; a standardized online platform provided to local governments at no cost, a list of established equipment standards and/or certified equipment for solar and storage projects installed through the proposed process and more.

There have been several attempts at this over the years, all of which fell short, but this one might have a shot because of the timing. The economic case for solar has never been better, and the technology and techniques are proven with copious examples to highlight.

Also, what local government would turn down the promise of a ton more jobs? To grow that base of skilled solar workers around the country, the Solar Training Network introduced AmericanSolarWorkforce.org, an online platform to help solar companies recruit qualified candidates; allow solar job seekers to find career and training opportunities; and help the entire industry build a strong and diverse solar workforce. Using this platform, which is free of charge, employers can post opportunities on a solar job board and connect with thousands of candidates looking for solar career opportunities. Employers can also create company profiles, review candidate applications, and communicate with potential hires.

2. Solar pros see the short-comings of the industry and are actively trying to address them.

Two key examples here. First is in grid services. Features for grid services are mentioned all of the time now, from inverter and optimizer products to the need for storage and other ancillary services. I take it as a sign that the relationship between utilities and solar companies is now evolving past an adversarial stage because there’s nothing left to prove about solar as viable generating asset. Now, solar has to prove how it will best integrate and play nice on a wide scale over the long-term. This was always the case, but it feels everyone is getting on the same page about pursuing solutions.

For example, of all the things bouncing around the mind of CJ Colavito, VP of Engineering at Standard Solar, these days, he most wants to find a way to sync third-party radar forecasts with smart inverters for advanced ramp rate control — to ramp down voltage slowly prior to cloud cover that will cause voltage flicker.

Solar Power International

SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper and SEPA CEO Julia Hamm discuss diversity as an important goal for their respective industries.

The second short-coming is a short-coming for most industries: diversity. Judging by comments during the opening session and the upcoming Solar Jobs Census, solar thought leaders realize the industry is in position to not just remake the grid, but the makeup of the American workforce – not just to be PC and nice but because there is value inherent in a diversified workforce with growth opportunities. Also, check out this initiative from SEIA to work with Historically Black Colleges.

3. The full solar life cycle needs more attention.

One area in the U.S. solar industry still in need of attention is the full sustainability of a solar project. For example, panel recycling is a fairly big can that keeps getting kicked down the road. A DNV GL report released at SPI listed stranded assets as a key question in its market mechanics. At some point we will run out of road and kick that can straight into a million tons of PV that needs to be put somewhere. This isn’t a crisis (at least not yet) because there are solutions, at least according to First Solar, which has developed a standard for doing so and been put its system in place. Solar is recycled fairly easily — and for a profit — in Europe and that model could be replicated here.

The next can soon to be kicked is in storage. Storage is basically the key to solar taking over the world, but storage is dirtier than solar on the clean energy scale. Cobalt is a safety hazard. Lithium needs to be mined and poses its own potential for fire. Lead-acid battery companies claim to have the most recyclable solution, but does it perform as well as the future needs? And also, it is comprised of lead and acid. This is stuff that needs to be fully considered within the grand plans.

4. So many storage solutions…

LG energy storage

The new LG energy storage system.

Speaking of storage, every turn on the trade show floor seemed to present a new energy storage system or bundle of products to solve all sorts of solar + storage equations, from simpler backup capabilities to time of use to peak shaving and on and on. Panasonic has a full solution pairing Pika’s islanding inverter with its batteries and modules. LG debuted its complete solar + storage system for the home. SimpliPhi has varied its case sizes and voltage range. Sonnen has gone full tilt into energy management + home automation – a long fantasized idea that is now real-life – that is more load shaping than load shifting.

It’s all very cool. The issue from installers we chatted with at the show is there’s no one software that can deftly handle all of the storage mathematics they need (those that are great for peak shaving can’t be used for resiliency, etc.). There’s more to figure out here, just like on the battery side, but each SPI feels closer and closer to the goal line.

5. Some cool C&I rooftop innovations.

The reigning champion for the “biggest solar opportunity with the biggest issues to solve,” the commercial and industrial rooftop, saw several big-time debuts to ease some of these headaches.

A ton of solar deals are off the table because of the commercial rooftop life cycle and price tag. The deals that do go through on a different timeline than the roof itself are going to be a huge headaches come roof replacement time. Headaches meaning stuff will for sure be broken when the solar system is removed, stored and put back on. Standard Solar and Carlisle Roofing teaming up to solve this at the outset with a bundled package — a new C&I silicone coating spray applied to the existing roof membrane (with optional insulating foam) that installed with the PV system. The deal is financed through a PPA agreement with Standard Solar, so the building owner is essentially paying for the new roof (good for 50+ years) during the 25-year PPA.

ESDEC rooftop solar mounting system

The ESDEC Flat-Fix

On the system side, available in the first time in the U.S., Holland-based ESDEC debuted its slick Flat-Fix commercial rooftop mounting system. The same lightweight design can be laid out in south-facing or east-west configurations and is built with one tool, keeping the SKUs at a minimum. The feet are adhered with glue (or a bolt if needed) and an optional ballast tray. The system is already proven but the team needed to make a few tweaks to launch in the U.S., mostly relating to cable management, all of which were cleverly designed like the rest of the system.

Remote C&I system design has never been easier thanks to Nearmap’s updates. Its digital surface and line of sight analysis produces a jaw-droppingly clear picture for 71 percent of the U.S. population that is updated 3 times per year. You can really tell the difference between obstruction or dirt, as well as accurately measure the pitch and dimensions of any surface. When combined with the newest version Aurora Solar’s software, Aurora estimates 10x performance upgrades for multi-megawatt, commercial-scale solar projects added with the ability to simulate the solar energy production of a PV system while designing, allowing real-time assessment of design choices and elimination of change orders. An enhanced “fill zone” functionality is also available to automatically optimize solar panel locations to maximize the number that fit within an available space.

6. The next big trend will emerge from the California solar mandate (and maybe it’s an old one?).

Consider a company like CertainTeed – been around for a long time, and didn’t have a lot new at its booth to discuss. Its solar products are focused mostly on roof-integrated options that are not as popular as traditional mounting + solar panels on an existing roof sold and installed by solar installers. But when all new homes in California are going to need to come with solar already on the roof, will builders and roofers favor something like this they can handle themselves? Or, consider SunFlare, a company with a flexible CIGs technology. In 2018 it seems like a niche product – can be installed on top of existing carports and other nontraditional areas, but it’s close to working with a high-end national homebuilder that liked its solar shingle because “it’s a roofing product, not a solar product,” thus allowing them to install new solar on a new house without contracting out. The president of ESDEC also mentioned that in Holland their mounting system is seen as so simple to install that HVAC companies are a big customer segment for them because they could easily add it to their service offering.

Will the mainstreaming of solar earlier in the building process end up cutting out companies and products that rule the day today? Maybe a wild thought, just remember to keep your hands and arms inside the solarcoaster at all times.

— Solar Builder magazine

Six solar industry storylines to watch from Solar Power International 2018

Q Cells

Photo of a cool booth setup.

Your Solar Builder editor entered the whirlwind of news, numbers and handshaking that is Solar Power International and emerged with a notepad filled with gibberish. What language is this? What secrets does it hold? We sent it to a forensics lab, the archaeological department at Oxford and the guy with wild hair on Ancient Aliens for their interpretations. After this thorough analysis, we believe these are the top solar story lines in a post-SPI world …

1. Focus shifts from federal politics to local action

You get the sense that the solar industry has finally punted on trying to waste much more time inching the message boulder up the current administration’s hill and is now putting those resources into local efforts. This is likely the better route to go anyway, and the initiatives announced at SPI could do the trick if developed.

Just before SPI kicked off, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The Solar Foundation unveiled the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) initiative, which is the latest collective effort of the industry to streamline permitting. Reforms include: A safety and skills training and certification program that allows residential and small commercial solar and battery storage installers to attest that their projects are compliant with applicable codes, to eliminate traditional multi-step permitting processes; a standardized online platform provided to local governments at no cost, a list of established equipment standards and/or certified equipment for solar and storage projects installed through the proposed process and more.

There have been several attempts at this over the years, all of which fell short, but this one might have a shot because of the timing. The economic case for solar has never been better, and the technology and techniques are proven with copious examples to highlight.

Also, what local government would turn down the promise of a ton more jobs? To grow that base of skilled solar workers around the country, the Solar Training Network introduced AmericanSolarWorkforce.org, an online platform to help solar companies recruit qualified candidates; allow solar job seekers to find career and training opportunities; and help the entire industry build a strong and diverse solar workforce. Using this platform, which is free of charge, employers can post opportunities on a solar job board and connect with thousands of candidates looking for solar career opportunities. Employers can also create company profiles, review candidate applications, and communicate with potential hires.

2. Solar pros see the short-comings of the industry and are actively trying to address them.

Two key examples here. First is in grid services. Features for grid services are mentioned all of the time now, from inverter and optimizer products to the need for storage and other ancillary services. I take it as a sign that the relationship between utilities and solar companies is now evolving past an adversarial stage because there’s nothing left to prove about solar as viable generating asset. Now, solar has to prove how it will best integrate and play nice on a wide scale over the long-term. This was always the case, but it feels everyone is getting on the same page about pursuing solutions.

For example, of all the things bouncing around the mind of CJ Colavito, VP of Engineering at Standard Solar, these days, he most wants to find a way to sync third-party radar forecasts with smart inverters for advanced ramp rate control — to ramp down voltage slowly prior to cloud cover that will cause voltage flicker.

Solar Power International

SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper and SEPA CEO Julia Hamm discuss diversity as an important goal for their respective industries.

The second short-coming is a short-coming for most industries: diversity. Judging by comments during the opening session and the upcoming Solar Jobs Census, solar thought leaders realize the industry is in position to not just remake the grid, but the makeup of the American workforce – not just to be PC and nice but because there is value inherent in a diversified workforce with growth opportunities. Also, check out this initiative from SEIA to work with Historically Black Colleges.

3. The full solar life cycle needs more attention.

One area in the U.S. solar industry still in need of attention is the full sustainability of a solar project. For example, panel recycling is a fairly big can that keeps getting kicked down the road. A DNV GL report released at SPI listed stranded assets as a key question in its market mechanics. At some point we will run out of road and kick that can straight into a million tons of PV that needs to be put somewhere. This isn’t a crisis (at least not yet) because there are solutions, at least according to First Solar, which has developed a standard for doing so and been put its system in place. Solar is recycled fairly easily — and for a profit — in Europe and that model could be replicated here.

The next can soon to be kicked is in storage. Storage is basically the key to solar taking over the world, but storage is dirtier than solar on the clean energy scale. Cobalt is a safety hazard. Lithium needs to be mined and poses its own potential for fire. Lead-acid battery companies claim to have the most recyclable solution, but does it perform as well as the future needs? And also, it is comprised of lead and acid. This is stuff that needs to be fully considered within the grand plans.

4. So many storage solutions…

LG energy storage

The new LG energy storage system.

Speaking of storage, every turn on the trade show floor seemed to present a new energy storage system or bundle of products to solve all sorts of solar + storage equations, from simpler backup capabilities to time of use to peak shaving and on and on. Panasonic has a full solution pairing Pika’s islanding inverter with its batteries and modules. LG debuted its complete solar + storage system for the home. SimpliPhi has varied its case sizes and voltage range. Sonnen has gone full tilt into energy management + home automation – a long fantasized idea that is now real-life – that is more load shaping than load shifting.

It’s all very cool. The issue from installers we chatted with at the show is there’s no one software that can deftly handle all of the storage mathematics they need (those that are great for peak shaving can’t be used for resiliency, etc.). There’s more to figure out here, just like on the battery side, but each SPI feels closer and closer to the goal line.

5. Some cool C&I rooftop innovations.

The reigning champion for the “biggest solar opportunity with the biggest issues to solve,” the commercial and industrial rooftop, saw several big-time debuts to ease some of these headaches.

A ton of solar deals are off the table because of the commercial rooftop life cycle and price tag. The deals that do go through on a different timeline than the roof itself are going to be a huge headaches come roof replacement time. Headaches meaning stuff will for sure be broken when the solar system is removed, stored and put back on. Standard Solar and Carlisle Roofing teaming up to solve this at the outset with a bundled package — a new C&I silicone coating spray applied to the existing roof membrane (with optional insulating foam) that installed with the PV system. The deal is financed through a PPA agreement with Standard Solar, so the building owner is essentially paying for the new roof (good for 50+ years) during the 25-year PPA.

ESDEC rooftop solar mounting system

The ESDEC Flat-Fix

On the system side, available in the first time in the U.S., Holland-based ESDEC debuted its slick Flat-Fix commercial rooftop mounting system. The same lightweight design can be laid out in south-facing or east-west configurations and is built with one tool, keeping the SKUs at a minimum. The feet are adhered with glue (or a bolt if needed) and an optional ballast tray. The system is already proven but the team needed to make a few tweaks to launch in the U.S., mostly relating to cable management, all of which were cleverly designed like the rest of the system.

Remote C&I system design has never been easier thanks to Nearmap’s updates. Its digital surface and line of sight analysis produces a jaw-droppingly clear picture for 71 percent of the U.S. population that is updated 3 times per year. You can really tell the difference between obstruction or dirt, as well as accurately measure the pitch and dimensions of any surface. When combined with the newest version Aurora Solar’s software, Aurora estimates 10x performance upgrades for multi-megawatt, commercial-scale solar projects added with the ability to simulate the solar energy production of a PV system while designing, allowing real-time assessment of design choices and elimination of change orders. An enhanced “fill zone” functionality is also available to automatically optimize solar panel locations to maximize the number that fit within an available space.

6. The next big trend will emerge from the California solar mandate (and maybe it’s an old one?).

Consider a company like CertainTeed – been around for a long time, and didn’t have a lot new at its booth to discuss. Its solar products are focused mostly on roof-integrated options that are not as popular as traditional mounting + solar panels on an existing roof sold and installed by solar installers. But when all new homes in California are going to need to come with solar already on the roof, will builders and roofers favor something like this they can handle themselves? Or, consider SunFlare, a company with a flexible CIGs technology. In 2018 it seems like a niche product – can be installed on top of existing carports and other nontraditional areas, but it’s close to working with a high-end national homebuilder that liked its solar shingle because “it’s a roofing product, not a solar product,” thus allowing them to install new solar on a new house without contracting out. The president of ESDEC also mentioned that in Holland their mounting system is seen as so simple to install that HVAC companies are a big customer segment for them because they could easily add it to their service offering.

Will the mainstreaming of solar earlier in the building process end up cutting out companies and products that rule the day today? Maybe a wild thought, just remember to keep your hands and arms inside the solarcoaster at all times.

— Solar Builder magazine

Carlisle Roof Foam and Coatings present C&I roof restoration options at SPI

Standard Solar DC solar finance

Just as a mechanic wouldn’t put a new Ferrari 456 V-8 engine in an old Geo Metro, a deteriorating old roof is not the best option to hold a new solar array on an existing building. Carlisle Roof Foam and Coatings will be showcasing its roofing options, for new and restored roofs, compatible with any type of solar mounting system, at Solar Power International (Booth 3671, Smart Energy Microgrid Marketplace).

Since most solar systems have a service life of 20+ years, a new PV system installed on an existing roof often will outlast the roof and its warranty. Carlisle manufactures liquid-applied acrylic and silicone roof coatings that are perfect for restoring old roofs. Carlisle also manufactures spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roofing, ideal for new construction. All of Carlisle’s roofing systems are seamless and self-flashing, completely sealing any penetrations. They are also lightweight and able to conform to any angle, surface, or substrate. Carlisle’s team of technical professionals can address any issues of construction, code compliance, energy efficiency, and maintenance.

sb-econference-web-post

Standard Solar, Inc. will be joining Carlisle at SPI this year to present their full suite of services, from EPC to low-cost financing. Standard Solar and Carlisle have joined forces on several previous projects to develop, fund, and operate solar systems on newly restored commercial roofs. Owned by Énergir, a leading energy provider with more than $5.8 billion US in assets, and with more than 100 megawatts installed, financed and maintained, Standard Solar is one of the most trusted and respected solar companies in the United States.

Carlisle Roof Foam and Coatings is a new business segment of Carlisle Companies Incorporated, which acquired Accella Roofing Solutions in 2017. The transition of Accella to Carlisle Roof Foam and Coatings harnesses Carlisle’s long history in the development and production of commercial and industrial building envelope products, to now offer a whole building solution.

— Solar Builder magazine