Tag Archives: Commercial Solar Installations

Santa Monica Mandates Rooftop Solar On New Buildings

San Francisco recently made headlines for establishing an ordinance requiring solar installations on new buildings, and now, yet another California city has passed similar legislation.

The Santa Monica City Council has approved an ordinance mandating rooftop solar systems on all new residential and commercial buildings in the city. And although San Francisco’s ordinance goes into effect in 2017, Santa Monica’s kicks off in fewer than 30 days, on May 26. Other cities in the Sunshine State that created such solar mandates include Sebastopol and Lancaster, which passed their ordinances in 2013.

According to the Santa Monica government, the ordinance capitalizes on market trends in the solar industry. With the cost of solar installations continuing to decrease, Santa Monica residents and developers will now generate renewable energy, improve the value of their property, and contribute to the city’s long-range goals for energy and climate mitigation, including reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

Read full article from Solar Industry

 

Aquion installs storage for microgrid at California winery and farm

By Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Aquion Energy and Ideal Power have teamed up to provide storage capability to a microgrid that enables a California winery and farm to be energy self-sufficient.

Aquion supplied its aqueous hybrid ion batteries for the project, connecting them with Ideal Power’s grid resilient 30-kW multi-port power conversion system as part of a microgrid at Stone Edge Farm, a 16-acre organic winery and farm in Sonoma County. The energy storage installation provides the farm and winery the capability for solar self-consumption, peak shaving and load shifting services.

The solar + storage installation is designed to provide energy for a number of buildings on the site, including the primary residence, offices and workshops. The grid-tied microgrid, developed by Wooster Engineering Specialties, is capable of islanding and operating autonomously and of generating enough energy that Stone Edge Farm is able to sell some of the energy back to Pacific Gas and Electric.  During daylight hours, solar PV provides energy for the buildings and charges the batteries. During nighttime hours and periods of cloud cover, the batteries provide energy for building loads.

Read full article from Utility Dive

Related: Aquion Energy’s AHI batteries and Ideal Power’s power conversion system bring energy independence and resiliency to Sonoma Winery (Press Release) – April 26, 2016

Yikes! Is California’s interest in Solar Energy Collapsing?

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released their US Solar Market Insight 2015 Year in Review on Wednesday, March 9. We’ve been tracking their PV capacity reports for the past several years, and in the figure below we plot the 2015 capacity increases reported in their Executive Summary.

While there was strong national growth in installation capacity this past year, California’s capacity additions were less than in 2014. After a couple years of providing over half the annual capacity additions in the country (57% last year), California’s share has fallen to a mere 45%.

 Annual PV Installations: California and U.S. Total (2010-2015)

Annual PV Installations: California & U.S. Total (2010-2015)

We picked ourselves up off the floor and asked “What is happening; is this for real?” So we called GTM Research and checked other sources to find out what in the world was going on. Turns out that despite the disastrous looking change, solar growth in California remains alive and well.
Turns out the primary reason for the downturn is a sharp decline in Utility-scale PV projects. According to GTM, these additions fell to the vicinity of 1800 MW last year. [I wish we could afford the $2000 – $6000 for the full report that our SEIA Membership entitles us to so that we could access all the GTM data. But we live in lean times and use information from diverse public sources such as US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and California Energy Commission (CEC) as well as GTM’s summaries to inform our understanding.]

According to EIA information published in late February, it appears that Utility-scale solar PV expanded by 2000 MW in 2014, but only 1100 MW (preliminary) in 2015. Data from diverse sources rarely match-up year-to-year, but the trends are identical—California’s utility-scale PV installations experienced a sharp reduction in 2015.

After checking the CEC’s most recent Tracking Progress, Renewable Energy-Overview, we can see why—the utility industry is ahead of target for meeting the state’s 2016 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) 25% goal. The industry achieved almost 25% renewables in 2014! The state added approximately 4000 MW of utility scale PV capacity between 2013 and 2015. Utilities are meeting their target early; the apparent slowdown is a temporary pause while utilities work on the installations that will get the state to 33% renewable electricity by 2020.

Distributed generation activity remains strong in California, both in the Residential and Non-Residential segments. The state’s residential customers generated demand for approximately 1000 MW of installations—almost half the national total of 2100 MW. And other distributed generation customers (eg, commercial rooftops) account for about another 300 MW.

So for the first time in years, California’s share of new solar PV installation is now less than half the national total. Good news! The rest of the country is waking up to the benefits of solar energy with capacity increasing in numerous states. The Utility sector is leading this expansion, while the residential sector growth is accelerating. We’re pleased to see this expansion.

Whole Foods teaming with NRG and Solar City to install rooftop solar at 100 stores

By Samantha Masunaga, The Los Angeles Times

Whole Foods Market Inc. is embracing solar power. The Austin, Texas-based grocery chain has signed agreements with SolarCity and NRG Energy Inc. to install rooftop solar units at up to 100 stores and distribution centers.

NRG, based in Princeton, N.J., will install the units at up to 84 locations in nine states, according to a joint statement from the two companies. San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity will install the rest, Whole Foods spokeswoman Blaire Kniffin said.

The companies did not disclose the locations of the stores that will receive the rooftop solar units, but Kathy Loftus, Whole Foods’ global leader for sustainability, said the company’s goal was to have rooftop solar units in every region. A store’s rooftop solar unit can generate about 5% to 20% of the yearly electricity that store needs, Loftus said. In a statement, Whole Foods said it would buy discounted power from SolarCity.

Whole Foods says it currently has rooftop solar installed at 20 stores. Tuesday’s announcement comes 14 years after the chain installed solar-powered lighting for the first time, at a store in Berkeley. Installation of the newly announced solar units will begin in the spring, Loftus said.

Read full article in the Los Angeles Times

SunPower Solar Power Systems Planned for Four Escondido Union High School District Schools

Escondido Union High School District (EUHSD) and SunPower Corp. today announced a power purchase agreement (PPA) under which SunPower will build two megawatts of solar power systems at four district schools. The district estimates that the agreement will offset approximately 75 percent of its annual electricity demand, and save $13.4 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years.

Requiring no upfront capital investment on behalf of the district, the PPA provides EUHSD with competitive electricity rates and a hedge against potential utility rate increases.

“As a result of this agreement with SunPower, Escondido Union High School District will significantly reduce our energy costs, enabling us to apply the savings where they are needed, such as for enhanced academic programs or facility upgrades,” said EUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. “SunPower’s deep experience working with school districts is as important as the long-term performance of its technology. We are proud to support the development of additional solar power resources in our community.”

Read full press release from SunPower

Related Article: Local schools save with solar panels, batteries (San Diego Union-Tribune) − Dec. 16, 2015

Local schools save with solar panels, batteries

By Pat Maio, The San Diego Union-Tribune

With power rates skyrocketing for San Diego County school districts, Escondido’s has become the latest to agree to a power purchase agreement with a Silicon Valley-based solar company. The deal could help bring $9.8 million in savings over the next 20 years, a district official said.

Escondido Union High School District has dodged some of the larger power bills hitting school districts in San Diego County because of past initiatives to replace old heating and air-conditioning units, and replace light fixtures with more-efficient ones, said Michael Simonson, associate superintendent of business services with the Escondido school district. Over the past two school years, for instance, the Escondido school district has cut its demand for power by 958,000 kilowatt hours.

Meanwhile, its power bill from San Diego Gas & Electric Co. has risen by about $195,000, or 13 percent, from $1.43 million in the 2013-14 school year to $1.62 million, this past year. “The increased costs paid to utilities are dollars that we can’t spend on the classroom,” Simonson said. “We are trying to put that destiny in our hands and balance out some of those potential rate increases. When you look at what is in front of us, this is a good start for the next 20 years.”

San Jose-based SunPower Corp. hopes to begin construction of the solar panels by next summer at Del Lago Academy, and Orange Glen, San Pasqual and Escondido high schools. The panels will be situated atop carports planned for the student parking lots, and will provide shade during the day, and protection from rainy weather. The carports will be wide enough to shade two rows of cars.

The solar panels are just one part of the Escondido district’s energy-conservation plans. Tesla Motors Inc. also has a deal in place to build stationary battery storage systems for three of the Escondido school district’s high schools — a project that officials hope could save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in electricity costs.

Read full article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

18 schools across California turn to SunEdison to save millions with solar

SunEdison, Inc. today announced that it has signed 20-year power-purchase agreements with six school districts across California. These agreements will see more than 9 megawatts of solar installed at 18 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the state, and is expected to save taxpayers more than $30 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

The six unified school districts getting new solar systems are Atascadero, Fairfax, Gilroy, Paso Robles, Templeton, and Tracy. The districts worked with California joint powers authority SPURR to arrange the solar power deals with SunEdison.

Each solar system will be installed on a parking canopy, a roof that sits above parked cars at the school. SunEdison intends to start construction during the first half of 2016, and aims to finish by the third quarter. The solar systems are expected to generate enough energy to offset more than 75 percent of the electricity used by the school buildings. That same amount of electricity is enough to power around 2,200 California homes a year. The systems will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 170 million pounds over the 20-year period.

Read full press release from SunEdison

SolarCraft Completes Solar Power System for Horicon School District – Sonoma County School Makes the Switch to Solar Power

Novato and Sonoma based SolarCraft announced the completion of a 59 kW solar electric system at Horicon Elementary School in Annapolis, CA, near the northern coast of Sonoma County. The new photovoltaic system will offset 99% of their utility grid demand, essentially eliminating their electric bills and saving the school district thousands in utility fees every year.

The solar photovoltaic panels are ground mounted in a visible location at the front of the school, providing students a first-hand opportunity to see how sunlight is converted to electricity. Horicon is one of many schools going solar and serving as stewards of sustainability and cornerstones of green initiatives that benefit their community.

Designed and installed by SolarCraft, the solar system consists of 190 Canadian Solar 310-watt solar panels, spanning over 656,666 square feet and providing 87,235kWh of clean, renewable electricity annually. SolarCraft assisted the school with preparing The California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) application for a $75,000 grant. Under the initiative, roughly up to $550 million annually is available for appropriation by the Legislature for eligible projects to improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation in schools.

Read full press release from SolarCraft

1.1 MW Solar PV Array Facilitates Optimized Energy Use At Leading California Dairy

Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) presided over the dedication of a significant new solar power system in the Central Valley – at Medeiros & Son Dairy.

The 1.1 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) system was designed and deployed by Visalia-based CalCom Solar, a developer of solar projects for agribusinesses and water districts.

“I’m excited to be here for the dedication of a significant job-creating solar project being deployed in the Central Valley,” said Congressman David G. Valadao. “I am proud to represent a community where businesses like Medeiros & Son Dairy, CalCom Solar, and their partners are committed to innovative projects, especially one such as this that facilitates thoughtful energy and water management. The jobs resulting from the solar industry and PV projects like this are desperately needed in the Central Valley and throughout California as a whole.”

Read full article from Solar Server