SunPower starts construction on 56-MW power plant in Oregon

SunPower Corp. started construction on the 56-megawatt (AC) Gala Solar Power Plant in Crook County, Ore. The project, which is expected to be the state’s largest operating solar power plant when it is completed by the end of 2017, is anticipated to create approximately 300 jobs during peak construction.

sunpower logo“I’ve often said that in Oregon, we don’t believe economic development and environmental stewardship are mutually exclusive ideas,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “The approximately 300 jobs expected to be created by the Gala Solar Power Plant are proof we can grow our rural communities and support a vibrant and innovative renewable energy industry.”

SunPower’s third-generation SunPower Oasis platform for solar power plants will be installed on the site to maximize the project’s long-term energy production. The Oasis platform is a complete power plant solution that installs quickly and optimizes site utilization to lower the cost of energy for customers. Product features include 50 percent fewer parts than conventional solar plant systems and an integrated solar tracker design that streamlines construction and reduces operations and maintenance costs.

RELATED: How SunPower’s Helix Platform takes aim at commercial sector 

“While solar is cost-competitive today, SunPower is continuing to drive the cost of energy down through innovation and integrated complete solutions such as our Oasis platform,” said Ty Daul, SunPower vice president, Americas Power Plants. “We’re pleased to contribute to economic development in Oregon with the construction of this milestone project.”

“Solar power projects deliver a range of regional benefits, including job creation and affordable emission-free power,” said Ann Beier, assistant planning director, Crook County Community Development. “We are proud that, working in partnership with SunPower on the Gala Solar Power Plant, Crook County is helping lead the way in Oregon in supporting increased solar development.”

SunPower has contracted with Moss, an award-winning national construction firm ranked among the top building and solar contractors, as the general contractor for the project.

“We are excited about the new generation of SunPower’s revolutionary Oasis tracker system,” said Mike Little, executive vice president at Moss. “This system dramatically simplifies utility scale solar. SunPower has optimized every component of the power plant, reducing not only components costs, but construction installation costs.”

At the Gala site, high efficiency SunPower E-Series panels will be installed on the SunPower Oasis trackers, enabling more megawatt hours per acre to be generated compared to conventional solar technology. SunPower E-Series panels reliably deliver excellent performance to optimize returns, and are backed by SunPower’s industry-leading 25-year Combined Power and Product Warranty.

— Solar Builder magazine

Ross Solar Group cornering the car dealership solar install market in the Northeast

SunPower Helix module mountingThe Ross Solar Group is planning to install a third record-setting solar project for Gengras Motor Cars at the dealership group’s Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep / Ram facility on Connecticut Blvd., in East Hartford, Conn. The SunPower Helix Roof Solution, a fully integrated commercial solar power platform, will feature 954 high efficiency SunPower E-Series solar panels. Upon completion, the installation will be the largest single SunPower rooftop solar installation to date in East Hartford, Conn.

“Solar is an important component of our long-term strategy, helping us to reduce operational expenses and remain competitive, while underscoring our commitment as a responsible corporate partner to grow renewable energy in East Hartford, ” said third-generation Gengras Motor Cars Co-Owner Jonathan Gengras. “Ross Solar’s commitment to quality, customer service, and full transparency, echoes our pledge to our own customers, and once again makes them the clear choice as the right partner for us.”

The project was made possible through awards that Ross Solar secured on Gengras Motor Cars’ behalf through the Connecticut ZREC program.

RELATED: How SunPower’s Helix Platform takes aim at commercial sector 

Prior to this project

In 2015, Ross Solar installed two separate SunPower solar power systems for Gengras Motor Cars at their Volvo and Chevrolet facilities on Connecticut Blvd., totaling 418 kilowatts in size, which at the time were the two largest single SunPower rooftop solar installations in East Hartford.

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the forthcoming installation will offset 266 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, representing a reduction in Co2 emissions equivalent to not burning 283,559 pounds of coal each year, and equal to the carbon sequestered by 6,887 tree seedlings grown for ten years.

 

“We are proud to partner with Gengras Motor Cars again on this high-profile renewable energy project, and we appreciate the confidence and the level of trust that the Gengras Family continues to place in us,” said Robert Kline, PV Solar Consultant at Ross Solar.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower constructs 4.8-MW carport on two California campuses

sunpower helix carport

California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWR) are constructing a 4.8-megawatt SunPower Helix Carport solar power system at two university parking areas. CSULB will purchase the solar power generated by the system under a power purchase agreement that offers competitive rates, enabling the university to offset approximately 15 percent of campus electrical load with clean, renewable solar power.

The SunPower Helix platform is a fully-integrated solar solution for commercial customers. Available for installation as a carport, on the roof, or as a ground-mounted technology, Helix is a pre-engineered, modular solution designed to deliver more energy and greater reliability than conventional solar products. The elegant design of the Helix carport can also enhance the aesthetics on campus. Since launching the product late last year, SunPower has contracted a total of 40 megawatts of Helix Carport to deliver to customers in the commercial and public sectors.

In addition to generating power, the solar carports at CSULB will provide to the campus community needed shade and electric vehicle chargers with the capacity to charge 50 cars. All of the systems are expected to be operational by the end of next year. CSULB will own the renewable energy credits associated with the systems.

RELATED: Solar carports will spread across the country as costs decline 

SunPower estimates that one year of solar energy produced by the CSULB system, once it is operational, could power more than 2,200 electric vehicles for 30 years. According to estimates provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association, the annual power production of the system will be equivalent to the power required by 1,200 average California homes.

CSULB has three operating solar power systems on campus today, but this new SunPower project will be the largest solar power system on campus and within the 23 campus CSU system to date.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, the university’s Sustainability Task Force oversees a range of activities to reduce campus environmental impact, including energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable food service, and waste reduction and recycling.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower CEO on layoffs in power plant segment, focus shift to distributed generation

sunpower

SunPower reports that its distributed generation business performed well — and plans to continue focusing on that segment — but at the cost of its power plant segment, which fell short of its lofty 2016 goals. The company plans to cut 15 percent of its workforce as a result.

As a result of the announced realignment, the company expects the following:

  • Workforce reduction of approximately 15 percent or 1,200 employees, primarily related to its Philippine facility closure
  • Restructuring charges totaling $30 million -$45 million
  • Substantial portion of charges to be incurred in the third quarter of 2016 with more than 50 percent of the total charges to be cash
  • Annual operating expense reductions of approximately 10 percent

Here is the explanation from Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO

“While the long-term fundamentals for solar power remain strong, we see a number of near-term industry challenges, primarily in our power plant segment, that we expect to impact our business and financial performance in the second half of 2016. The extension of the Investment Tax Credit, as well as the bonus depreciation credit, while beneficial to the long-term health of the industry, has reduced the urgency to complete new solar projects by the end of 2016, with many customers adopting a longer-term timeline for project completion. Additionally, near-term economic returns have deteriorated due to aggressive PPA pricing by new market entrants, including a number of large, global independent power companies. We are also seeing customer project IRRs rising in the near term as buyers have increased their hurdle rates due to industry conditions. Finally, the continued market disruption in the YieldCo environment has impacted our assumptions related to monetizing deferred profits.

RELATED: How SunPower’s Helix Platform takes aim at commercial sector 

“As a result, we have proactively decided to streamline our power plant development segment while shifting investment to our distributed generation (DG) segments. We intend to focus our development resources on a limited number of core markets, primarily in the Americas, where we believe we have a sustainable competitive advantage and a project pipeline of over 9 gigawatts (GW). Outside these core markets, we will focus our power plant business on the sale of our new Oasis complete solution incorporating Performance Series panel technology to developers and Engineering, Procurement and Construction companies in global markets, including Total. We also plan to delay the timing of certain projects in our 2016 and 2017 pipeline to take advantage of planned cost reduction efforts over the next two years. We expect these actions to significantly lower operating expense and capital deployment in our power plant business while maintaining leadership in our core markets.

“Additionally, we are realigning our manufacturing operations to increase the relative mix of X-Series capacity due to expected strong customer demand in our DG business as well as adjusting our panel assembly capacity to be closer to our core markets. We plan to utilize equipment from some of our older solar cell manufacturing lines in Fab 2 to debottleneck capacity of our latest generation technology in order to increase the supply of X-Series panels. These initiatives will enable us to increase X-Series output by up to 100 MW by the end of 2017. Additionally, in connection with the realignment of our power plant segment principally around our core markets, we have made the decision to close our Philippine panel assembly facility and transfer the equipment to our latest generation, lower cost facilities in Mexico. This change will optimize our supply chain and move final panel assembly closer to our key markets.

Werner on second quarter results

“Our second quarter execution was solid as we met our financial targets and achieved key milestones across the company. During the quarter we saw significant customer demand for our recently introduced Helix and SunPower Equinox complete commercial and residential solutions, respectively. We are also seeing stronger than anticipated demand and price premium for our highest efficiency, next generation X-21 and X-22 Series solar panels. In our upstream solar cell and panel manufacturing operations, we delivered strong yields and panel output in our fabs, continued our technology leadership with the announcement of our world record 24.1 percent efficient rooftop solar panel and successfully started up our first high volume, Performance Series production lines in Mexico.

“In our distributed generation business for the second quarter, we saw solid execution in both the residential and commercial segments. In commercial, our performance was above plan as we successfully ramped our Helix product deployment to approximately 20 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter while signing over 25 MW of new contracts for customers such as the U.S. Army. We were also pleased to complete the drop down of our Macy’s project to 8point3 Energy Partners, and we continue to believe that 8point3 Energy Partners will be a key strategic vehicle for the company going forward. With a record pipeline of more than $1.3 billion, strong bookings, currently stable pricing and the continued successful ramp of our Helix solution, we are well positioned to gain share in the commercial market. Our residential segment also performed well, with solid fundamentals in the U.S. and improving traction in Europe and Japan. In the U.S., we are seeing a pronounced shift to our new SunPower Equinox complete solution which accounted for 50 percent of bookings by the end of the quarter. Total U.S. residential MW deployment was up approximately 25 percent year-over-year, and we continued to expand our utility channel initiatives, most recently a new solar plus storage partnership with Consolidated Edison.

 
Additionally, second quarter fiscal 2016 non-GAAP results include net adjustments that, in the aggregate, decreased (increased) non-GAAP net loss by $39.9 million, including $18.0 million related to 8point3 Energy Partners, $4.1 million related to utility and power plant projects, $3.0 million related to sale of operating lease assets, $3.0 million related to sale-leaseback transactions, $16.5 million related to stock-based compensation expense, $(2.2) million related to other adjustments, and $(2.5) million related to tax effect.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower, Con Edison creating ‘virtual power plant’ via distributed PV + battery systems in New York

Beginning this summer, Con Edison and SunPower Corp. will partner on a pilot program to offer solar power systems with battery storage to more than 300 New York homeowners. The aggregation of hundreds of homes with solar power and battery storage will provide the utility with a cost-effective and innovative “virtual power plant,” providing participating homeowners with a backup system in case of an outage while also supplementing the traditional energy delivery model to improve grid resiliency, reliability and sustainability.

SunpowerWith the integration of over 1.8 MW of solar power and about 1.8 MW, or 4 MWh of battery storage, this partnership will represent the largest residential distributed energy storage program in the U.S. It results from New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, designed to harness and integrate renewables into the state’s power grid.

Under the program, qualified participants will have leased high-efficiency SunPower solar systems installed on their homes to help reduce the homeowners’ monthly electricity costs. For an additional low monthly payment, participants also will have Sunverge Energy battery systems, owned by Con Edison, installed and connected to their SunPower systems. In the event of an outage, solar power stored in a participant’s battery storage system will be available to power certain essential load appliances in the home.

Using the storage system’s intelligence, Con Edison will be able to link the hundreds of solar-plus-storage systems together into a “virtual power plant” that can act as a local generation resource to supply power to the grid during peak usage periods. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) integration will provide remote monitoring and control, allowing Con Edison to forecast and optimize the performance and reduce the need for the utility to rely on traditional non-renewable power sources to meet peak demand.

RELATED: New York utilities, SolarCity propose landmark partnership 

con edison“The integrated solar and storage approach enhances value to the grid by providing a dispatchable renewable power source that Con Edison can control and rely on in real time,” said Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president of Distributed Resource Integration. “We are excited to offer customers high performance SunPower systems for no upfront cost, and a cheaper, greener, simpler alternative to a traditional backup generator.”

“This ambitious program with Con Edison represents a significant milestone in U.S. energy delivery, demonstrating that combining solar and energy storage can result in a stronger, more resilient grid while providing end customers the opportunity to save on electricity bills,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “Increasingly, SunPower is working with forward-thinking utilities to integrate advanced energy solutions and enable the transition to a more sustainably powered world.”

“Solar plus storage facilitates innovative new approaches for utilities to serve customers, including alternative tariff structures and virtual power plants, and Con Edison is at the forefront of that innovation,” said Sunverge Co-Founder and CEO Ken Munson. “We’re proud to partner with Con Edison and SunPower on this very significant project, providing intelligent storage to help ensure the delivery of reliable renewable power to New York residents even during power outages.”

 

More info is available here.

— Solar Builder magazine