Solar Builder

NOV-DEC 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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To sum it up, the solar industry at large is trying to build an industry of quality, diverse jobs that also saves citizens and munici- palities money while helping to achieve climate change goals. Steadily building that case, at some point, will be impossible for local and federal decision makers to ignore. It's certainly impossible for utilities to ignore at this point. Solar is on the grid and needs to act like it Another subtle shift is in the relationship between utilities and solar companies. Previous years were spent proving solar's viability as a generating asset and fighting against the grain to make it hap- pen. With that case made, and with only larger waves of solar com- ing onto the grid, the conversation and innovations are more about integration and playing nice on a wide scale over the long term. Strolling the SPI trade show floor, the topic of grid services comes up all of the time now, from smart inverter functions to the need for storage and other ancillary services to make PV systems better stewards of the grid. For example, of all the things bouncing around the mind of CJ Colavito, VP of engineering at Standard Solar, he most wants to find a way to sync third-party radar and irradiance forecasts with smart inverters for advanced ramp rate control — to ramp down voltage slowly prior to cloud cover to avoid voltage flicker and save the general wear and tear of feeder equipment. "The inverter can already control the ramp up, which is half the solution. The other half is either storage to firm the output of the PV array as it drops rapidly or curtail the output early before the cloud comes in, so I'm already at a low state of power," he said dur- ing our chat. "Then I don't need storage to control ramp rate." The tone on the utility side seems to be changing too. Hamm said the number one goal of SEPA going forward is evolving the utility business model. Goal number two is expediting changes in the state regulatory processes that "were created back in the last century when the pace of technology change was much slower than it is today." "We're trying to figure out how we can accommodate the multi- ple factors of the industry and give customers what they want: choice," said J. Andrew Murphy, senior vice president, strategy and corporate development at Edison International, on stage during the opening session at SPI. "More choice in where [their energy] comes from and the technology involved. How do we steer them to the best choices that benefit the system, clean the grid and keep everything reliable and affordable?" In what may have been a Freudian slip, Murphy did classify all of those as "competing" interests, but when asked about that term, he revised it to "complementary." In fairness, it's always going to be a bit of both, which is fine as long as the competition winners are fairly and transparently decided. "We need to understand what our customers value and com- municate how to provide it," Murphy said. "It's not technology matching with a solar program here, and then another program over here with different rebates. … it's all been siloed historically and that needs to change and requires a new organizational design." A cool initiative on the utility side mentioned by Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, was his organization's aspiration to be an end-to-end digital utility to encourage more innovation. "We are creating a digital replica of the energy system, to help customers become more efficient. The Canadian Solar took us behind the curtain at Solar Power International to show us its latest creation. Called BiHiKu, this new poly solar module combines three inno- vative solar PV technologies in one new 400+ Watt module: the latest black silicon, poly PERC and bifacial cell technol- ogies. It generates 400 W or more on the front, plus up to 30 percent additional power generation from the back side, increasing system yield and reducing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The company believes that BiHiKu is the first poly bifacial module exceeding 400+ W nominal front side power. BiHiKu is perfect for large commercial or utility-scale solar installations, particularly where a high reflection ground or surface under the module creates high albedo, contributing to high back side yield. The product will be available in 2019 and pre-production orders are being accepted now. New from Canadian Solar 12 N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 SCENE ON THE

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