Solar Builder

JAN 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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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 45 AD INDEX Advertiser............................................................................................................................................................................. Page APsystems ................................................................................................................................................................................2 Fall Protection Distributors, LLC ............................................................................................................................................... 13 Heyco Products ......................................................................................................................................................................... 17 NABCEP ...................................................................................................................................................................................47 Pika Energy ..............................................................................................................................................................................19 Quick Mount PV ........................................................................................................................................................................ 11 Shoals Technologies Group ....................................................................................................................................... Back Cover Snake Tray ................................................................................................................................................................................27 Solar Business Bootcamp ......................................................................................................................................................... 39 Solar Power Events ................................................................................................................................................................... 37 SolarRoofHook ............................................................................................................................................................................ 5 US Battery ..................................................................................................................................................................................7 sive than batteries. Simple changes in operation (undetectable to building occupants in commercial buildings and easy to manage in many industrial facilities) can offset the variation in solar output and eliminate spikes that cause high demand charges, but only with the right tools. Such load flexibility can actually complement storage solutions. With the right analysis, taking advantage of flexible loads can help a customer to right-size energy storage subsystems for a more cost-effective total package. The solar triple play — solar plus storage plus load flexibility — can be a potent solution to a variety of customer energy challenges. Expanding the comfort zone There are no serious technical impediments to delivering nonresi- dential solar solutions that bring both energy and demand charge savings. The trends are all in favor of such solutions: • Storage devices (both batteries and thermal storage) are declining in price quite rapidly; new announcements from both established and new storage vendors appear weekly. • Building and industrial controls are becoming more sophisticated and more standardized. • Sensors and data networks are increasingly affordable and more universally deployed. • Big data analytics are becoming more widespread, powerful and accessible. • Software solutions taking advantage of machine learning and advanced control algorithms will soon be widely available for application in real-world customer energy solutions. As with many new major shifts, the technology outlook is bright, but the biggest change required is cultural. Solar providers with a high comfort level matching panels and inverters to customer roofs and electrical systems may face a steep learning curve when moving into the less-familiar world of building and industrial operations. Inside the facility, it's a whole different world, but one that every complete customer energy solutions provider must understand. The good news is that many of the initial fact-finding steps are the same as those required for solar installations everywhere. The cus- tomer billing data, load profile data and utility tariff information remain the foundation of any good proposed solution. Creating a complete energy solution, however, requires a more complete sup- plier ecosystem than most current solar providers can deliver alone. Some of the most fruitful conversations we had last year at Intersolar and Solar Power International were about the development of that bigger ecosystem. Numerous battery vendors, many of whom origi- nally came out of the market for small, off-grid applications, began to describe how their offerings could be adapted for commercial building applications in demand-charge reductions. Software startups, many of whom got their start from DOE SunShot awards, contributed ideas for better data visualization and control. And while control vendors have not even been present at past solar events, a few are starting to recognize the synergies between solar and load flexibility. The future is promising for innovative solar providers who are will- ing to broaden their offerings and embrace a total energy solution approach for commercial and industrial customers. We invite feedback and conversation with any solar providers with insights into how the nonresidential market is changing, and how to strengthen the emerg- ing ecosystem of nonresidential energy solution providers. John T. Powers is founder and CEO of Extensible Energy. An energy economist with more than 30 years of experience in consult- ing and technology development for the electric utility industry, Powers has worked in energy efficiency, demand response and renew- ables for most of his career. He currently serves as project officer for the Community Solar Value Project, a DOE SunShot project helping utilities to develop better community solar programs.

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