Monday, May 9, 2016

Solar FlexRack Announces Webinar: Insider’s Secrets To Reducing Project Costs Through Racking Services and Solutions

Youngstown OH, May 9, 2016- Solar FlexRack™, a division of Northern States Metals and an innovative leader in photovoltaic mounting solutions, announced today an upcoming webinar the company is presenting on Solar Power World in partnership with Bombard Renewable Energy.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 19th, 2016 at 11:30 am EST, 8:30am PST. It is slated to be one hour in length and is titled, “Insider’sSecrets To Reducing Project Costs Through Racking Services and Solutions.”

About the Webinar
Utility-scale and commercial solar project installations can pose unique challenges and the devil is always in the details. During this webinar a leading EPC, Bombard Renewable Energy discusses how they resolved racking and installation challenges. Additionally, the webinar will highlight milestone solar installations and walk through aspects of each, including a 17 MW project that effectively addressed irregular terrain and the protection of a regional endangered species.

Attendees will also gain insight on:

·       How to reduce risks and save money on PV foundation design
·       How this EPC expert dealt with challenging site conditions (including sloping terrain, ground clearance issues, etc.)
·       How services can increase your capabilities and cut costs (value engineering, project management, etc.)

Speakers include: Bo Balzar, Operations Manager for Bombard Renewable Energy, Steve Daniel, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Solar FlexRack, Brian M. Flood, P.E., Director of Engineering, Solar FlexRack, and Kelly Pickerel, Associate Editor and Moderator for Solar Power World.


About Solar FlexRack
Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals, is an integrated solar company that offers custom-designed, fixed tilt ground mount and single-axis tracking systems in the commercial and utility scale, solar mounting industry.  Solar FlexRack also offers full turnkey packages, including engineering, geotechnical, pullout testing, field, layout, and installation services to address the actual site conditions of an installation, providing a full scope of services from design to delivery and installation.  Solar FlexRack has completed more than 1 GW of solar racking installations in 32 states across America and five countries globally.  More information on Solar FlexRack can be found at www.solarflexrack.com

For Solar FlexRack media inquiries, please contact:
Jill Hansen 
HansenRE
Tel: +1 925-997-5956

Ryan Petruska
Solar FlexRack
Tel: 330-799-1855

Monday, April 4, 2016

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard

Pennsylvania has a robust renewable energy market and is part of one of the largest mandated solar photovoltaic markets in the United States, along with the surrounding states of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. Each of these states also has large solar photovoltaic requirements in their Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS).
The Roots of Pennsylvania Solar
In 2004, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a law, AEPS Act 213, which required that an annually increasing percentage of electricity sold to retail customers in Pennsylvania come from alternative energy sources. The law requires that 18 percent of electricity sold at retail in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be generated by alternative energy sources by 2021. This includes a “Solar Share” of 0.5%, which equates to 863 MW from solar photovoltaic (PV) energy.
Alternative Energy Credits (AECs)
The AEPS program requires that retail energy suppliers utilize Alternative Energy Credits (AECs) for demonstrating compliance with the standard. An AEC is created each time a qualified alternative energy facility produces 1000 kWh of electricity. The AEC is then be sold or traded separately from the power. This makes it easy for individuals and businesses to finance and invest in clean, emission free solar power.
Pennsylvania Solar Industry Facts
  • Pennsylvania is one of the largest solar employers in the nation as home to more than 471 solar businesses.
  • Throughout the value chain, 2800 people are employed.
  • 10MW of solar electric capacity was installed in 2014 in Pennsylvania
  • With 249MW of solar energy currently installed in Pennsylvania, there’s enough solar power installed to power 29,000 homes.
  • Recognizing the value and potential of solar photovoltaics (PV) to provide reliable, emissions-free, distributed electricity, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s state government is clearly leading by example with nearly 30% of its electricity needs coming from renewable energy sources.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is Rooftop Solar Catching Fire – Literally?

In May of 2015, a rooftop solar fire was ignited by the solar panels on the roof of an Apple-owned facility in Mesa, Arizona. That begs to question, with growing demand for green energy, what are the real risks of solar installation catching fire on a rooftop?
Utility scale and commercial rooftop solar power is becoming more prevalent as the United States and individual corporations look to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) farms consisting of solar panels are an excellent way to introduce clean, renewable energy and utilize unused rooftop space; however, these renewable power plants introduce new challenges to solar manufacturers, system engineers, O&M companies, and fire fighters.
Research conducted two years ago indicated that rooftop solar-caused fires are very rare. A German study found approximately 75 instances out of some 1.3 million installations, while a study in the United States found only 7 instances in the entire country. While rare, the potential for a rooftop solar fire still exists and with the number of renewable energy systems growing daily, the risk grows exponentially.
What Can Cause Rooftop Solar Fires
It all starts with the components of both the solar array and the roof. Mounting solar panels and system components on the roof of a building can affect the combustibility of the overall roof system. Here’s what can happen:
In a combiner box, numerous wires from PV panels are connected. It is here that there is considerable voltage before the current is converted from DC to AC at the inverter. Electrical arcs near the combiner box can cause the PV panels to ignite as the backings of some panels are constructed of highly combustible plastic. Once the electrical arcs ignite the roof assembly, the fire can quickly spread under the solar panels and potentially across the entire rooftop.
How System Engineers Avoid Rooftop Solar Fires
When designing a solar array, there are several factors that can help prevent fires and/or can limit fire spread if ignition occurs:
  • Using a complete system that has been tested to simulate actual field conditions.
  • Avoiding installation of PV system on an older rooftop and choosing roof assemblies that limit potential fuel contribution in the event of a fire.
  • Investigating the need to coat the roof in expanded or extruded polystyrene insulation or multi-ply roof covers.
  • Securing mineral wool or other fire-resistant compressible insulation between wood nailers, covered by steel flashing.
  • Evaluating the underside of the PV panel for the least combustible material usage.
  • Utilizing PV panels that have passed fire tests that include testing with the proposed roof assembly.
How O&M Providers Avoid Rooftop Solar Fires
Once a solar array is installed, it’s up to a Solar Operations and Maintenance (O&M) service company to keep the system safely performing at optimal levels. To do this, the O&M Company will need to perform regular, scheduledpreventative maintenance, provide emergency services, monitor the system and audit its solar energy production.
Visual Inspection
Attention to every detail is critical in the operation and maintenance of a solar power plant. Something as simple as a regular visual inspection can prevent the system from being damaged by rodents and other pests, which could compromise wiring or insulation.
Repairs & Replacement
As manufacturers are taking steps to reduce the potential for fire by improving upon the electrical components, it is also important for O&M companies to keep up with these developments, as well as new code requirements. Repairs or replacements as recommended by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and governing bodies should be conducted in a timely manner. While some of these issues may be warranty related and some may simply be upgrades or more advanced technology – others can be critical at preventing system failure, fire or other safety hazard. Some examples are:
Micro-Inverters
Some solar panels now have micro-inverters on each PV panel, which convert voltage from DC to AC. While this can be expensive to implement in a solar power plant, it will reduce the change of a fire igniting on a rooftop PV solar array.
Arc Fault Detectors
Arc faults are caused by air gaps between electrical conductors. The most common causes are faulty manufacturing, installer error, or aging, degraded connectors. Electrical current flowing across this type of loose connection produces sparks which could cause a fire.
An arc fault current interrupter (AFCI) senses the DC current coming into inverters in smaller arrays or into combiner boxes in commercial and utility-scale systems. The increased electrical noise of an arc fault will trigger a system shutdown before it causes a fire.
These devices can be added to a solar installation by an O&M service company for a cost of anywhere from $25 and $100 to each inverter string. While the 2011 National Electrical Code (NEC) requires AFCIs in rooftop solar arrays, states are allowed to implement NEC requirements at their own pace.
Monitoring Systems
To further protect against the potential for arc faults, the O&M Company managing the installation should be monitoring for signs of future arc-fault failures and preventative maintenance should be conducted to prevent fires.
Preparedness In Case of Rooftop Solar Fire
Regardless of the materials used in the construction of a PV panel, system, or the roof, its mere presence changes the dynamic of a fire involving a roof assembly. Fire fighters and other emergency first responder personnel need to understand and be prepared with adequate training with these unfamiliar hazards. Instruction is needed on structural fire fighting in buildings and structures involving solar power systems that utilize solar panels to generate thermal and/or electrical energy. Some of the training needed involves:
  • Ventilation – Firefighters need to be aware that they may be limited in where they can cut and it can take longer to cut ventilation holes in roofs with solar panels covering the surface.
  • Electrocution – When high-pressure water is trained on the roof, there is the potential for electrocution. Additionally, opening holes in the ceiling or attic space from the inside of a building may put firefighters in contact with metal conduit that is no longer grounded due to partial roof collapse or heat damage and therefore dangerous to touch.
  • Roof Collapse – Due to the additional weight on a roof, solar panels may increase the risk of roof collapse.
  • Exiting Roof – With the presence of rooftop-mounted PV arrays, it may limit the areas in which firefighters can exit the roof.
In conclusion, as rooftop solar arrays continue to proliferate, the solar industry and those involved in emergency response need to be keenly aware of the risks, the challenges and the new technology developments as they continue to collaborate to keep safety at the forefront of renewable energy generation.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Solar News – Obama’s Climate Action Plan

On Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, the United States Department of Energy announced that researchers developing new solar power technology would receive more than $100 million in grants from the federal government as part of the Obama administrations Climate Action Plan. These grants are to fund research in finding ways to reduce the cost of solar power and expand access to low-carbon energy.
Of the grants announced Wednesday, $32 million will be used on 14 projects researching how to improve the performance and efficiency of concentrating solar power plants. Some of these projects include:
  • Using mirrors to concentrate reflected sunlight on a central point and then storing that energy in molten salt.
  • A new thermal energy storage system that would boost the amount of energy concentrated solar plants are able to store, so solar power can be used when the sun isn’t shining. This project will use new highly conductive materials to make concentrating solar plants more efficient.
  • Finding ways to improve photovoltaic performance and reliability and reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic panels, which are already rapidly becoming less expensive.
An additional $7 million is being spent on researching ways to slow solar panel deterioration over time.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Creating a Clean Energy Economy

Earlier this year, the President of the United States announced a new goal to increase the share of renewables –beyond hydropower – in the U.S. electrical generation mix to the level of 20 percent by 2030. The solar industry has a big stake in this initiative. Let’s take a look at the facts about what has been happening in the solar industry:
Rapid Solar Growth
  • The use of renewable energy technologies has increased dramatically over the past several years, in terms of overall capacity of the generation and in the overall amount of renewable electricity generated.
  • The total amount of electricity generated at utility scale facilities (those which have a capacity of more than 1 megawatt) from renewables has tripled since 2008. All while costs have fallen.
  •  Last year, the United States commissioned as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008. Plus, jobs in the solar industry were added at a rate 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.
  • Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed energy resources.
  • In the past five years alone, the solar industry has grown 86 percent. Worldwide in 2014, a record amount of solar power was added to the world grid, pushing the total cumulative capacity to 100 times the level it was in 2000.
Why is Solar Power an Important Renewable Energy Source?
Through the use of solar power, the U.S. gains energy independence and increase its energy security while bolstering job creation and combatting climate change.
Today’s solar industry is also adding jobs ten times faster than the rest of the economy – all while cutting emissions and combatting climate change.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What is the SunShot Initiative?

Created in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the SunShot Initiative drives research, manufacturing, and market solutions to make solar energy resources more accessible and more affordable for Americans. This national collaborative effort aims to reduce the total installed cost of solar energy systems to $.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) within a decade, by 2020.
Specific Goals of the SunShot Initiative
  • To make low-cost, clean, reliable solar energy available for homeowners, businesses, communities, and government.
  • To reduce greenhouse gas missions (GHG) and other pollutants
  • To create jobs in the United States through domestic solar manufacturing and distribution.
SunShot’s Mission
Sunshot’s Mission is to make it faster, easier, and cheaper for Americans to choose solar energy in their daily lives.
To learn more about more recent developments in the Sunshot Initiative, view the 2014 SunShot Initiative Portfolio Book now.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Forget Solar Incentives Think Solar Initiatives

In 2010, the SunShot Initiative fueled renewable energy growth while moving away from solar incentives and working toward solar initiatives.
Scientists driven to increasing efficiency rates and making technology advancements whilst businesses and residents were being egged on to install solar by solar incentives were previously propelling the solar industry. The SunShot Initiative set out to make solar power cost-competitive with traditional energy sources, without solar incentives by 2020. It’s no surprise then that while the price of installing solar power has been declining, solar incentives provided through state governments and utility companies have been dropping off substantially when compared to those from ten years ago. This data comes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab who surveyed eighty percent of all U.S. residential and non-residential photovoltaic systems.
Are Solar Incentives Dead?
While, in general, solar incentives are trending downward, some states are still pushing for new programs to sustain renewable energy growth to restore shrinking businesses and fuel job growth.
Not too long ago, New Jersey was second in the country as a solar state; the state is now in seventh place. To give the states solar industry another boost, New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace wants to jumpstart New Jersey’s fading solar energy effort with new incentives for areas of the state where solar is most needed. Under his bill, homeowners and businesses in five areas of New Jersey where electric grid congestion is at its worst would be offered a 15 percent incentive to install a solar system, and $1.50 per watt of energy produced by that system.
New Jersey’s incentives fit nicely in with the executive actions and private sector commitments President Obama recently announced. These initiatives will not only continue to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help Americans save on their energy bills, but they will also help enable all income classes access to solar while helping the country transition to cleaner, and more distributed energy resources.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Will the U.S. Reach it’s SunShot Initiative 2020 Goals?

At the halfway mark of the President’s decade-long SunShot Initiative, the solar industry is already approaching the 70 percent mark to achieving SunShot’s goal to make solar power fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources, without solar incentives, by 2020.
Take a look at what’s been happening in the solar industry and what the SunShot Initiative 2020 goal is driving:
Decreasing Solar Costs
Steep reductions in module prices primarily drove down the cost of residential solar between 2008 and 2012, but in the years since then, reductions are coming from lowering soft costs. For utility scale solar, PV costs have decreased by nearly 60 percent. These falling utility costs have allowed a series of new record low power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the past two years. Included in these PPAs are numerous contract announcements coming in at or below 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Increasing Solar Capacity
The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is paying off. The 2014-year was a record breaking one for solar installations in the United States, up nearly 40 percent over 2013 with 20 gigawatts of installed capacity. That’s enough power to provide electricity to approximately 4 million homes.
New Solar Projects
The United States has become the third largest solar market in the world. Currently there are approximately 800,000 solar projects operating across the country. And, of all of the new electric generating projects coming online during 2014, solar represented 32 percent of them in the United States.
Creating Solar Jobs
The number of solar projects being installed, commissioned, and then need ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) is rapidly increasing. With that increase comes the creation of solar jobs.
The solar industry in the United States employs nearly 174,000 workers. This figure is up 22 percent over 2013. By 2020, to reach the Administration’s goal, nearly 75,000 workers need to be trained.
Miller Bros. Solar (MBS) is a chosen leader in operations and maintenance (O&M) solutions due to the company’s project expertise, full construction capabilities, and 160+ pieces of heavy equipment. MBS is one of the few electrical contractors that can simultaneously self-perform multiple utility scale solar projects while exceeding client expectations, controlling costs and adhering to timelines and customer schedules.
Miller Bros. Solar provides O&M services for solar projects in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For more information, visit http://millerbrossolar.com or call 610-832-1000.