Solar Builder

JAN-FEB 2019

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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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 33 ◄ GP Joule developed its foundation engineering approach in the cold Canadian climate with a single-axis tracker design that utilizes up to 60 percent fewer piles. for NANA. Diesel costs in the region range from a low of $5.75 to a high of $11.00 per gallon locally, he notes. This project, led by NANA, provides for the cumulative installation of 500 kW among three Alaska Native Inupiat communities — Kotzebue, Buckland and Deering — "to address common energy challenges and opportunities by devel- oping high-penetration wind-solar-battery-diesel hybrid sys- tems through collaboration with Tribal IRA Councils, local electric utilities, a national cooperative f inancial institution and others," DOE reports. DOE provided a $1 million grant for the $2 million project, which was on track to be completed in December. Charles W. Thurston is a freelance writer covering solar energy from Northern California. Float On Let's thaw out for a second and examine the potential for floating solar in the U.S. While the United States was the first to demonstrate floating PV panels — with the first installation occur- ring 10 years ago on pontoons on an irrigation pond in Napa Valley, Calif. — the idea has not received wide- spread national acceptance. But National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers think the time has come for that to change. "In the United States, it's been a niche application; where in other places, it's really been a necessity," said Jordan Macknick, the lead energy-water-land analyst for NREL and principal investigator of the project that produced the paper Floating PV: Assessing the Technical Potential of Photovoltaic Systems on Man- Made Water Bodies in the Continental U.S. "We're expecting it to take off in the United States, especially in areas that are land-constrained and where there's a major conflict between solar encroaching on farmland." Macknick and his NREL co-authors, Robert Spencer, Alexandra Aznar, Adam Warren and Matthew Reese, estimate about 2.1 million hectares of land could be saved if solar panels were installed on bodies of water instead of on the ground. Installing PV on the more than 24,000 man-made U.S. reservoirs could generate about 10 percent of the nation's annual electricity pro- duction. Floating PV comes with additional benefits, including reduced water evaporation and algae growth. Spencer, lead author of the paper, added that in some cases benefits could be greater than those documented in the paper, but that the team used "strict assumptions that would give us a very conservative estimate of the total potential generation and benefits." The NREL team also found that operating floating PV alongside hydroelectric facilities yields increased energy output and cost savings because of existing transmission infrastructure. "Floating solar is a new industry enabled by the rapid drop in the price of solar PV modules," said Warren, director of NREL's Integrated Applications Center. "The cost of acquiring and developing land is becoming a larger part of the cost of a solar project. In some plac- es, like islands, the price of land is quite high, and we are seeing a rapid adoption of floating solar." Floating PV sites are being deployed more overseas, however, with more than 100 sites as of the end of last year. Japan, for example, is home to 56 of the 70 largest floating PV installations.

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