SunPower offers batteries to hold homes’ solar power until night

By Ehren Goossens
Bloomberg News

SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is offering energy-storage systems to California homeowners that will power houses at night with electricity generated from sunlight during the day.

Image: SunPower)

The company is testing systems that combine rooftop solar panels with battery storage in new homes built by KB Home, San Jose, California-based SunPower said in a statement today.

Such systems will reduce consumers’ reliance on electric utilities and the grid, cutting power bills and providing electricity during blackouts, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said yesterday in an interview. Though the technology isn’t widely used today, and SunPower only expects to install about 10 of the systems in KB Home houses this year, Werner expects it to become standard in less than five years.

“The cost of storage is going to come down rather dramatically over the five-year period,” said Werner. “We think of storage as where solar was five to 10 years ago.”

Real estate: Rooftop solar leases scaring buyers when homeowners sell

KB Home is initially offering the systems at communities in Irvine, El Dorado Hills and San Diego, California, and will expand the program into additional areas next year.

Homeowners will own the power systems and the costs will be incorporated into their mortgages, said Steve Ruffner, president of KB’s Southern California unit.

Standard feature

The builder already includes a 1.4-kilowatt solar system as a standard feature at its Vicenza community in Irvine, saving an average of about $216 a month, or roughly $25,600 over ten years. Storage systems will lead to higher savings.

“When we incorporate the battery with that they’re going to see that the savings are significant,” Ruffner said. He couldn’t estimate how much more.

SolarCity Corp., the largest installer of rooftop solar panels, offers similar storage systems. The company has said it’s faced hurdles imposed by California utilities that are reluctant to connect the systems to the grid.

SunPower is also planning to test power-storage systems in Australia this year and in Germany next year. The company has installed about 15,000 rooftop solar systems in the U.S., including almost 3,000 with KB Home. First Solar Inc. is the largest U.S. solar manufacturer.


Japan Solar Power Network to add 29 MW of rooftop solar

By: Ian Clover

The Tokyo-based distributed power generation company has partnered with Beisia Corporation to fit 33 buildings with rooftop PV systems totaling 29 MW.

The 29 MW project will connect to Japan’s grid and also provide emergency power in the wake of natural disasters.

The Solar Power Network (SPN) Japan has today announced a partnership with Beisia Corporation to install 29 MW of rooftop solar PV across 33 buildings in greater Tokyo and the Chuba region of Japan.

The Tokyo-based distributed power generation company will design, build and operate the facilities, which will be installed across 33 buildings owned by Beisia.

Combined, the systems will add 29 MW of PV capacity to the Japanese electricity grid and will be eligible for contracts under the country’s feed-in tariff (FIT). Beisia has pressed for the systems in order to meet obligations it is signed up to under a disaster relief obligation created in the wake of the 2004 Chuetu Earthquake and the 2011 Tsunami. Power provided by these solar rooftop arrays will form part of the emergency supply in the wake of another natural disaster.

Once operational, the rooftop installations will provide enough solar energy to power 9,250 local households each year, mitigating the effects of 680,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the process. SPN CEO and president, Peter Goodman, remarked that solar power is a reliable source of emergency energy in the wake of a natural disaster, and applauded Beisia’s efforts to ensure relief for communities during such disruptions.

“One of SPN’s primary goals is to provide clean energy to local communities,” he said. “SPN is proud to support Beisia in its initiative to move forward with its disaster relief scheme using renewable power. It is a great honor and pleasure for SPN to be part of such a visionary program that includes 33 solar power facilities.”

The first of the 33 systems will be operational before the end of 2014, according to SPN, with a further 17 coming online before summer 2015.

Read more:

Pssst, Wanna Buy A Free Solar Powered Carport?

by Tina Casey

Actually, make that a net-negative solar powered carport. The solar financing company Demeter has just teamed up with the Clinton Global Initiative’s US branch to offer a first-of-its kind “game changing” deal that essentially results in a free solar carport.

To give you an idea of how much this is expected to actually change the game, last year Demeter received a federal SunShot Incubator award of a cool half-million dollars to develop the new financing system, which is aimed like a laser on the small scale, distributed energy market for commercial properties.

Solar carport (cropped) courtesy of Demeter Power Group.

Free Solar Carports – Why Not A PPA?

For those of you familiar with power purchase agreements, the big question is what’s wrong with a power purchase agreement (PPA)?

The end result is basically the same, which is that you pay no money up front for the installation. In both cases, you only pay a monthly fee or rate, which is typically less than what you previously paid for grid-supplied electricity, so what you end up is a free solar installation and lower electricity bills.

So, if the installation happens to be a carport, there you have it: free solar carports.
Taking Solar Brainless

Actually, the simplicity of a PPA mainly applies to residential properties. With small scale solar installations on commercial properties it’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and that’s where Demeter Power Group comes in.

CleanTechnica provided Demeter with a space for a guest column last year, which provides a pretty comprehensive rundown of the free solar carport thing.

For those of you on the run, here it is in a nutshell: Demeter has developed a financing mechanism for commercial properties that is aimed at making no-money-down solar installations as quick and simple as a residential PPA.

That’s quick and simple, as in getting lease approval within minutes. The fast-moving mechanism is something Demeter calls PACE, for Property Assessed Clean Energy.

Essentially, PACE is a standard system for matching appropriate customers with installers. It provides contractors with a pricing matrix that enables them to know if their installation price will provide a prospective property with the desired result, such as a “free” solar carport, given the anticipated utility bill savings over time (keeping in mind that grid energy rates typically rise about five percent annually).

Demeter pairs the PACE calculation with its proprietary PACE Lease® third-party financing platform to seal the deal.
Free Solar Carports From the Clinton Global Initiative

Former President Clinton is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t he? Along with our sister site PlanetSave, we’ve been touching base with his alternative energy projects pretty regularly, but this new project, out of Clinton Global Initiative America, takes it up to a whole new level through the Feed-Out® Program.

The Feed-Out Program pairs independent power producers with financing platforms to provide low cost renewable energy at a fixed, predictable price for the consumer.

It dovetails with the Clean Trillion Campaign, which targets a trillion-dollar goal for clean energy investment per year over the next 36 years, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by

Demeter’s role will be to provide its PACE3P® financing mechanism. The game-change comes in because PACE3P links the solar service fees to a voluntary property tax assessment, which eliminates a financing obstacle that has typically prevented small businesses and commercial properties from getting credit approval for a solar installation.


Delhi Metro Commissions Its First Rooftop Solar Power Project

By Mridul Chadha

Indian capital city’s pride, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, has earned yet another achievement by commissioning its first rooftop solar power project at one of its stations.

A Train of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation at one of the stations (Credit: WillaMissionary | Public Domain)

The project, with an installed capacity of 500 kW, is expected to start generating power from next month. The project is located at a station near the Delhi international airport.

The project will be commissioned and operated under the RESCO — renewable energy services company — model where the Delhi Metro will provide the site for the project while the developer will invest the capital cost for project development. The project operation and maintenance cost will also be borne by the developer. The project has been hailed as the largest rooftop project in the capital under the RESCO model.

Delhi Metro has signed a power purchase agreement with the project developer. However, the terms of this agreement have not been made public. Delhi Metro might get power free of cost after the developer has recovered its capital investment.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation intends to implement similar pilot projects at a few stations before replicating the same across all stations and yards on the network. With the support of GIZ, the DMRC found that its stations and yards can accommodate solar power projects with capacity between 90 kW and 2,500 kW with a network-wide potential of about 52 MW.

The study also suggested the various monetization avenues that DMRC may consider with respect to these power plants. The power generated could be used for in-house use at the stations, sold to nearby advertising hoardings or used for charging electric vehicles in the near the future.

Electricity is a major component of Delhi Metro’s operations. The lifeline of India’s capital city came to a halt during the infamous July 2012 blackout in north India. Due to the commercial nature of its operations, the Delhi Metro attracts a significantly high electricity tariff from the city’s power distribution companies. With a potential to install 52 MW, DMRC could end up generating about 86.5 million units of electricity every year. At current power tariff, DMRC would save about $8 million (?47.6 crore) every year.

DMRC has been known to take innovative sustainability measures. It has implemented an energy recovery mechanism in the braking system of its trains. It was also the first project of its kind to be registered under the UN Clean Development Mechanism for cutting emissions by replacing a large number of private vehicles as means of transport. Recently, it allowed college students to install micro wind turbines at some of the metro stations in a pilot project to harness the wind generated from the fast-moving trains.


Chattanooga church becomes the first in the city to add solar panels

by Dave Flessner

On the longest day of the year, with the sun shining brightly overhead, environmental, religious and utility leaders gathered Saturday at the first Chattanooga church to turn the power of the sun into electricity.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Chattanooga installed a 3 kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof of its Brainerd church last month and recently received its first payment for the solar power — a $35.40 check from EPB.

Dr. Olin Ivey, a retired United Methodist pastor and board member for the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, urged other churches to “go and do likewise” to help use the sun and other renewable sources to replace power from burning fossil fuels linked to air pollution and global warming.

“There are 800 churches dotting the landscape of Chattanooga and this is the first local church to install solar panels,” Ivey told a church gathering Saturday as part of the national “Put Solar On it” celebration on the first day of summer.

“Think how much pollution and global warming would be reduced if all churches in Chattanooga did this. All life emanates from the sun and with more than 14 hours of sunlight today, this is a perfect day for this celebration.”

The Unitarian Universalist church placed 12 solar panels on the roof of its Navajo Drive building near Interstate 24. The panels are among more than 1,900 solar installations across the Tennessee Valley. Although solar power represents less than 1 percent of the electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, solar enthusiasts predict that the sun will play a far bigger role in the future.

Barbara Kelly, co-chairman of the Sierra Club Cherokee chapter, said solar installations are growing as new technologies have cut costs by 70 percent.

Nationwide, solar power generation grew 41 percent last year — the fastest-growing share of any major electricity generation source. Solar now powers the electricity needs for 3 million U.S. homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Dr. Barbara Haskew, a TVA director who lives on Elder Mountain in Chattanooga, said TVA is lessening its dependence upon coal power plants, which once supplied more than two thirds of its electricity.

“The future of TVA lies in a combination of power sources and solar has an important place in that future,” she said.