Category Archives: Installation

Solar energy is better for the environment and your pockets

By Alyssa Curtis, KMTV

BELLEVUE – The country’s largest renewable energy event is being held this week. National Solar Tours is an opportunity for people around the country to learn about making the switch to solar energy from their neighbors. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Part of the National Solar Tour: Don Preister’s home in Bellevue with solar + a geothermal heat pump.
Solar Installation: 8.4-kilowatt, grid-tied, OPPD net-metered system, ground mounted on south-facing slope with no battery storage (yet) and 28 optimizers. Installation was completed in December 2016, with enough capacity for all electrical needs in an all-electric residence of 2000 square feet. There is extra capacity to charge his electric vehicle.
Photo Credit: Eugene Curtin / Bellevue Leader
Installer: Solar Heat & Electric with help from the Preister brothers

Are you installing solar for your home or business? See Links to Incentives, Depreciation and Net Metering

MISSOURI REAP PROJECTS

Missouri Farmers Increasingly Look To Solar To Power Their Operations, KCUR Here and Now Story by Jonathan Ahl, Harvest Public Radio

Chris Bohr’s farm in Martinsburg, Missouri, has hundreds of acres of soybeans and corn. It also has a 5,000 head hog barn that requires a lot of electricity to power its ventilation system, cooling fans and lights. About fifty yards away from the barn are three rows of solar panels. Bohr is among a growing number of farmers that are generating solar power to meet their needs. Bohr received a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to help pay for his solar panels. And the number of farmers applying for the grants is going up.

PV MAGAZINE ARTICLES

FROM ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Grid congestion a growing barrier for wind, solar developers in MISO territory, Energy News Network
A recent analysis found 245 clean energy projects that were withdrawn during the advanced stages of development, with many blaming a lack of transmission capacity.

NEW WOODMAC REPORT

Global Energy Storage Capacity to Hit 741GWh by 2030, Greentech Media
The U.S. will account for half of the world’s installed energy storage capacity by the end of the decade. Global energy storage capacity is now expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent through 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie’s new global storage outlook.

COMMUNITY STORAGE

SMUD’s Energy StorageShares program: The first virtual energy storage program in the US, Renewable Energy World

SMUD’s innovative Energy StorageShares program is the first virtual energy storage program in the US. StorageShares allows SMUD’s commercial customers to invest in an off-site battery storage system and enjoy energy cost savings without siting batteries at their facilities. In this newly launched pilot program, eligible commercial customers make an up-front payment to SMUD for program participation; in exchange, they receive a monthly on-bill credit. SMUD bundles the investments from program participants with its own capital, procures a battery, and installs it in a location that optimizes grid benefits.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD

NEBRASKA CLIMATE CHANGE STORIES

These stories were developed as part of a yearlong UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications depth-reporting project examining the impact of climate change on Nebraska. To learn more, visit: climatechangenebraska.com

SOLAR ACCESS IN HISPANIC COMMUNITIES

Investing in equitable access to solar energy for Hispanic communities, PV Magazine article contributed by Javiar Chacon, a Customer Analyst on the SREC Operations team at Sol Systems, where he works closely with customers to help mint their SRECs.

As one of the fastest growing American communities, the Hispanic population has been historically underrepresented in solar energy. The barriers that have excluded Hispanic people from solar, however, are not permanent and work can be done to ensure an equitable energy transition.

HDR & LANDFILL SOLAR 

Rethinking post-closure landfill care, Waste Today Magazine
HDR Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, has been supporting municipal and private solid waste clients for over 40 years with the planning, permitting and construction of secure solid waste landfills across the U.S. Of HDR’s beneficial use projects, one of the company’s most reputable post-closure developments is the Hickory Ridge Landfill in Atlanta. In 2010, HDR utilized a new exposed geomembrane solar cap technology to transform the landfill into the largest solar energy-generating facility in Georgia.

According to the company, it is the world’s largest solar energy cap and the first use of the technology as part of a fully permitted landfill final closure system. Utilizing over 7,000 solar panels to convert sunlight into more than 1 megawatt of clean, renewable electricity, the new technology essentially takes a durable, high-strength geomembrane material made for outdoor exposure on roofs and secures it to the landfill like a bedsheet through the use of vertical anchor trenches.

Local Do-It-Yourself Solar Project & Two How-To Guidebooks

Featured Solar Example
Colin Croft’s Do-It-Yourself Project in Gering, Nebraska

Project Description: Grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt PV system in rural Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, which generates enough to about “break even” in overall consumption/generation for this year-round home (electric heat supplemented by wood stove).  Twenty 260/270w panels tied to Enphase M250 micro-inverters/Enphase Envoy gateway were used.  The array was mounted about 25 degrees east of due south using basic and inexpensive Unistrut framing, bolted to E mounts by Quick Mount PV, which were installed during replacement of the old roof with a new composite roof.
Production/consumption monitoring using SiteSage for Homes/Powerhouse Dynamics.
PDF Download: DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom, written by Colin Croft

DO-IT-YOURSELF BOOKS

Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!


Subtitle: Do-it-yourself Guidebook to Vehicle Mounted Solar System Design and Installation, by William Errol Prowse IV. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to size and install a solar system for an RV, van, car and boat.

Install Your Own Solar Panels

Subtitle: Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home
Through detailed directions and step-by-step photos, veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and seasoned builder Philip Schmidt teach you how to determine the size, placement, and type of installation you’ll need. This comprehensive DIY guide covers everything from assembling rooftop racking or building a ground-mounted structure to setting up the electrical connections and making a battery bank for off-grid systems.

LINKS TO INCENTIVES TO REDUCE YOUR PROJECT COST
PLUS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems: 30% to December 31, 2019.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Solar Energy Industries Association 

LES Solar Incentive
Additionally, LES customers may qualify for a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the system size and primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dual axis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.

Source: Customer-owned Renewable Generation

SEIA Releases Updated ‘SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To advance efforts to educate residential solar consumers across America and  pave the way to a positive solar buying experience, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) launched an updated SEIA Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power.

Available online, the free guide offers those interested in going solar a one-stop shop to better understand the basics of solar energy and ownership options. It includes key questions to ask solar installers before entering a transaction. The guide is a result of a joint effort of the leading companies across the solar industry and goes hand in hand with SEIA’s existing Solar Business Code by which all SEIA members abide. Read the entire news release here.

More SEIA Resources

Additional Guide for Local Landowners
Solar Land Lease: Considerations in Nebraska
Authors:

YouTube Video
Solar Farm Leases – John Hay

About SEIA
Celebrating its 44th anniversary in 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 250,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

IREC launches new checklist for inspecting residential solar

By Mark Burger, PV Magazine USA

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has produced an updated Model Inspection Checklist for Residential Rooftop PV. This 15-page document facilitates a process for local inspectors and installers in plan review and field inspection steps, from structural analysis to signs and labels to be posted. Continue reading here.

Photo: Bob & Gina’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska – Solar Examples

ALSO PUBLISHED BY PV MAGAZINE USA

DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom in Gering, Nebraska

By Colin Croft

Brief overview
This article includes a discussion of a DIY installation of a grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system using Enphase microinverters, as well as the conversion of a two-level sunroom into a passive solar heating space using a thermostat-controlled fan/vent system. I also discuss my limited experimentation with micro wind turbines (not for the faint of heart!), and the hardware and software I’ve used to monitor my energy consumption and generation.

Download and save DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom

About the Writer
Colin is a philosophy instructor at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, who enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, birding and generally exploring the wild places of Western Nebraska and nearby western states.

Note to Other Do-it-Yourselfers

If you have completed a DIY solar project and would like to share it with other solar enthusiasts, please email your information to Helen Deffenbacher at nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.

Shopping Mall Solar Install Uses Bifacial PV Panels

By Dan McCue, Renewable Energy Magazine

The system is reportedly the largest commercial rooftop Solar PV installation in Hanford and the largest solar system to be installed, to date, on a shopping mall in the state. The system is estimated to generate almost 3,000,000 kWh of electricity annually – enough energy to serve approximately 450 homes. Learn more here.

YouTube Video: Click here for an aerial view of the bifacial solar panels on the Hanford, California Shopping Mall.

Photo: University of California, Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation in the College of Engineering. Credit: Sunpreme

NEBRASKA PROJECTS USING BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Henry Doorly Zoo Solar Shade Canopy

Morrissey Engineering worked to develop and engineer this project and SWT Energy was the prime installer. It is located at the Africa Exhibit Skyfari lift landing. This project used bifacial panels that are glass on top and bottom and can actually convert a portion of bottom-side light reflected off surrounding surfaces into additional power. The panels have a 300W rating without the boost from the underside and there are 80 in total.

 Custom Solar Canopy

This custom-designed canopy by Dixon Power Systems features glass-on-glass bifacial solar modules allowing sunlight to pass through individual solar cells, harvesting sunlight on both sides. Integrated into the homeowners’ deck, the canopy provides shade similar to standing under a tree. The structure is made from cedar with steel brackets that are also custom designed and built by Dixon Power Systems.

To solve ‘duck curve,’ Missouri utility to pay bonus for west-facing solar panels

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In an effort to better align solar-energy production with peak demand, the electric utility in Columbia, Missouri has begun to pay higher rebates for new west-facing arrays than it will for those facing south.

The city-owned utility adjusted its rebates as of Aug. 1 in order to encourage more solar production in late afternoon, when electricity use tends to peak, especially during the high-demand summer months. Continue reading.

Photo by John S. Quarterman / Creative Commons

Lincoln Electric System provides customers incentives that are based on the solar system’s orientation and its energy-generating capacity, as described in the PDF, Customer-owned Renewable Generation. These LES customer rebates are called “capacity payments” and are determined as follows::

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. The savings in the following examples would be:
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,125
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,500
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,875

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,425
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $2,375

For more information, visit LES.com, and select Savings & Energy > Solar & customer-owned generation or call LES Energy Services Specialist Jay Stoa at 402-475-4211.
Email: jstoa@les.com

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?

5 Ways OPPD Is Making the Greater Omaha Community More Solar Friendly for Customer Owners

The first four steps that OPPD has stated it is undertaking to provide customer-owners with the information and tools they need to “go solar” are posted on our Home Page. These will make the solar installation process more streamlined and cost-effective for installers, code inspectors, and customers.  Additionally, OPPD is moving forward on community solar development. (See August 5th update, below).

OPPD is to be commended for taking each one of these steps for all customer owners who want to install a solar system on their homes and/or businesses or who wish to participate in a community solar program.

      • OPPD plans to offer solar installers and code inspectors training on the interconnection process and is currently reviewing three major items prior to that effort. They are:
      • OPPD Distributed Generation (DG) Manual: This document provides the guidance and specifications that inter-connected systems, such as solar arrays, are required to meet prior to going “on-line.”
      • The ConnectDER: Effective July 1, 2017, the ConnectDER has been accepted by OPPD for use on certain Distributive Energy Resources (DER), including solar installations. The device has the potential of creating a “fast track” for residential (net metering) solar applications.  The ConnectDER offers various advantages, including added protection of house circuit breakers and the Distributed Energy Resources installation, itself. Any questions should be directed to Wyndle Young 402-636-3552 or email at wlyoung@oppd.com
        ConnectDER Video
         
      • OPPD Website: Renovation of the Distributed Generation portion of OPPD’s website.
      • OPPD has met with representatives from 12 different groups, including Nebraskans for Solar, to discuss concepts for community solar projects, and has issued a Non-Sealed Bid Request for Community Solar Proposals (August 5th Update):

Photo: Solar farm on a former landfill. Credit: Energy Center

The ConnectDER – Solar innovation that saves time & money

Click image to watch a brief video about the ConnectDER.

The ConnectDER enables rapid connection of grid-ready distributed energy resources (DERs), especially solar photovoltaic systems, by creating a connection point to a collar that installs between a residential electric meter and a meter socket.  It drives a number of benefits for the installation process:

  • Reduces costs by removing some balance of system components and premises wiring upgrades
  • Minimizes logistics headaches & site inspection time
  • Eliminates one of the primary areas of inspection failures, the load-side wiring

It comes in two versions: the Simple ConnectDER, which provides the basic connection, and the Smart ConnectDER, which adds metering and management functions for the local utility.

Department of Energy Information About The ConnectDER
Typically, after sunlight gathered by solar panels is turned into electricity by an inverter, it must be connected to a home’s electrical service panel. This can be difficult because panels are often located in hard-to-reach areas of a home, like basements or attics. For those who live in older homes, electrical service panels may not be built to handle the amount of energy being produced by solar panels and upgrading may be expensive.

The ConnectDER device makes it faster and easier to install a solar array by removing the need to upgrade electrical service panels or run wiring through a home’s interior, meaning solar technicians don’t need to enter your home. The ConnectDER is mounted between a home’s electric meter and meter socket, which is located outside. Cables from the inverter are connected directly to the device instead of being routed through a home. The meter can also handle more voltage than an electrical service panel, easily bearing the burden of routing power into the home.

By removing the need to replace the electrical service panel and run wiring through a house, the ConnectDER device saves consumers in installation costs. It also saves time, shortening what can be a lengthy process.

Watch a brief video about the ConnectDER.

Website: www.connectder.com
Questions? The website provides a contact form, or send an email to: info@connectder.com 

Madison solar firms picked for group buy program

By Bill Novak, Wisconsin State Journal

A sample system shown on Midwest Solar Power’s website would cost $13,000, but that would be cut almost in half through federal tax credits, rebates and the group buy. The group purchase program is run by the non-profit RENEW Wisconsin Inc. on behalf of the city of Madison with support from Middleton. Read the entire article here.

Photo Credit: RENEW Wisconsin

RESOURCES FOR NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES CONSIDERING SOLAR GROUP BUYING