Of course, a major reason that the "empowering women" meme was so powerful at SPI is attributable to you, and Raina - and certainly Julia who has been walking the walk for a long time now. It is a great trend and I hope the hallways are filled with "powerful" women at SPI next year! (And wild horses will be needed to keep me away!)
Noticed Julia Hamm asked for feedback on the show. I attended and have talked with several folks post event. The consensus is the show was very productive for those attending. I for one was very pleased to see all the data points around empowering women with the industry and a call for more diversity. The general session on Tuesday morning which featured industry solar installation, utility and regulator representatives "switching hats" and speaking from each other's point of view was one of the best sessions I've attended in 5 SPI's.
Keep up the great work covering the industry, Jim!
I feel a bit awkward making a post based on a conference I wasn't able to attend - much easier to do a preview than a review of same - but maybe what I can do is go down the same set of points and add my thoughts and links to some of the fine summaries by folks like Tom Cheyney and others.
Jim - thanks for posting this blog. Now that SPI has come to a close, I'd love to see a response (based on what you've heard since you couldn't make it) about how it measured up in the areas you highlighted. I am of course biased, but all of the feedback I've heard has been extremely positive, with many people commenting that this was the best SPI since 2010 for a whole variety of reasons.
Those are both good points. However, the exhibit floor is really directed toward installers and having the show outside of the largest solar market in the country for three years means that those installers aren't seeing what those exhibitors have to offer. I suspect that is why the number of exhibitors is off whereas it grew every year that it was in the "Sunshine State"!
But I'm all for anything that improves our political clout!
In terms of the "why Chicago" question. This is a thing a lot of folks have been talking about since it was announced- and it's important to keep 2 things in mind.
1) SPI is a political tool. The Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Chicago along with a host of other politicians will visit the conference and see the strength of the solar industry. Bringing it to different cities helps increase the overall political support and action for solar. Plus it educates a deep bench of political figures in an area.
2) There are a ton of solar-related manufacturers in the Midwest. The fastest way to grow the solar industry's clout and political power is to expand our tent and bring in a lot more solar-related companies. SEIA just did a big report about top brands that use solar- if those companies became SEIA members or political influence will grow a lot faster.
Here's a map of solar companies in the Chicago area> https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151603934021324&set=a.10150311342766324.334182.96055281323&type=1
Thanks very much for the kind words - I really appreciate it.
As I understand it, an arc fault occurs when you have two faults on a PV string, the second of which is on the leg that is set to detect ground faults. When the second fault occurs, the inverter is isolated from the string (due to the GFDI circuitry) but because you have two faults, you can have a complete circuit w/in the array. That could be in a single string, or it could be downstream from a combiner in which case you will have a much bigger issue on your hands. It is my understanding that it was such a double fault situation that created the arc fault that lead to the fire discussed here:
Interestingly, the new Enphase microinverter - the M250 - should prevent arc faults since it can detect a fault on either leg of the DC connection. Of course, microinverters are far less of a concern for a dangerous arc fault since the DC "string" is only one module. (The earlier models, most notably the M215, had a more conventional GFDI circuit which could only detect a fault on one leg.) I discussed this benefit of the new M250 in this post:
It seems that the Australians are ahead of us on this, or at least they make is sound like they are.
Could you comment on arc fault protection and it's use in fire prevention and safety? It is my understanding that micro-inverters are not necessarily immune from arcing and that nothing will ever completely eliminate the threat, except maybe something at the level of every single module.
As you know, my solar business does deal with this issue from a preventative standpoint, however, I don't need to be an expert (nor will I ever be), but I'd love to be able to direct my customers, particularly residential installers, somewhere.
Thanks for the in-depth report. Your content is like non elsewhere, and you are providing a real service to the industry.
P.S. I happened upon this, for those who really want and need to check into the issue in depth. http://bit.ly/18q37nb
A project can end up delisted for any number of reasons - the client could run out of money and not go forward. (We have had that happen!) Or there could be a falling out between client and contractor - or the originally listed projects could have been entirely speculative - it is really impossible to say from the data why the project ended up delisted.
But having 4 out of 5 projects ending up delisted seems like a red flag.
what does it mean when a project gets delisted? that the project didn't happen? or just that the application for an incentive got rejected (and therefore project probably, but not necessarily, didn't happen). and what can we infer from a company having a large percentage of projects delisted? is it that they are trying to reserve space in the queue for available incentive money by sending in applications for projects that aren't necessarily going forward?
Minor correction - we originally overstated the decline in the number of exhibitors. The actual numbers as released by Intersolar have now been used in the text and we apologize for any confusion the original numbers might have created.
Great seeing you at Intersolar - sorry we never got to really talk.
Excellent summation of Recom's marketing efforts! So glad to see you calling them out on it. You can never go wrong appealing to the lowest common denominator apparently...I was very disappointed to see how they were promoting their products.
Women in solar have worked hard to be taken seriously in a more male-dominated industry (and I am not meaning that in a bad way, lol). I feel like this year's entire Intersolar experience took a step backwards in this regard.
While no one literally patted me on the head I felt like they did verbally (i.e., you can pronounce photovoltaic correctly!).
Thank goodness for reasonable-thinking people like yourself who see through the garbage!
I should have mentioned this in the post, but I would love to collect emails that folks send to the Recom folks for their sexist marketing. So I will start with mine:
Mr. Tunyan –
I have just posted about Intersolar NA on my blog and in that post I have called out you and your company for hosting the worst example of sexist marketing at the show. Frankly, you and your company should be ashamed of your alleged “marketing” strategy. It demeans women and it demeans the industry.
Here’s the link, should you care to see what I have written: http://runonsun.com/~runons5/blogs/blog1.php/solevents/intersolar-2013-hot-not
I hope going forward you will reconsider how you present your products to the public.
NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional ™
Founder & CEO, Run on Sun®
Love that graph from CALISO. It's interesting the way the the types of renewables balance each other out. I wonder if something morning-specific will crop up in the next few years that will even out that lull between 7-9am?
Good point but it comes down to rate design. The folks pushing for net metering did not design the rate structures used by the IOUs - they did (subject to approval by the PUC). But since non-solar customers are subject to the same rates, the utilities are equally impacted by energy efficiency measures which are having a much larger impact on energy usage than residential solar - at least so far.
As usual the truth will be somewhere in the middle: net metering is an excellent push for decentralized energy production, but on the other side, someone needs to pay for the infrastructure. That someone will be the remaining people, exclusively using energy produced elsewhere. Obviously, this only works as long as at least 80% of customers are not producing their own energy....
In The Netherlands, where I live, the net metering obligation for utilities is considered the major subsidy for PV energy.
Actually, @eesmc, the balance may be even better for smaller inverters: since they also have a limited efficiency (up to 97% at full use) that goes DOWN when they're not used up to 100% of their capacity, it may well be that a somewhat smaller inverter delivers more electrons in the end.
No microinvertors here, but I have a similarly limited system: I have a 4370Wp system myself, consisting of panels in 2 different directions, and coupled to a 4kW inverter with 2 followers. I rarely saturate the inverter at all, but it is truly used from sunrise to sunset. This may be better than using a 5kW inverter and all panels in the "optimal" direction.
Quite an informative, albeit disturbing, series of posts, Jim. Good that you trusted your instincts, used your sleuthing skills to explore the situation fully, and uncovered the depths of Pacific Blue Solar's duplicity. Thanks for keeping us alerted- solid work, as always!
It is rare to see such dramatic, truly "graphic" results- definitely shows you are on the right path. Also interesting to read about the vicissitudes of maintaining your blog productivity- probably a challenge faced by all writers when staring at a blank page or computer screen! In spite of the obstacles, you continue to impress, Jim, with your newsworthy contributions and your ability to make staying current in the solar world, not only possible, but interesting. Kudos to you and your consistent efforts- keep climbing upward!
I have to echo the above comments. This is thoroughly researched and clearly communicated. This work will stand as valuable research/historical material as we move forward with Solar in LA, the US and around the World. I came across it not through Run On Sun, which I read often, but through simple google search as I researched the LADWP FiT program. Thanks for your hard work and advocacy Jim and Run on Sun!
Hi Paul --
Yes, it would appear that uplift was a foreign concept - as well as simple common sense.
I do think that as the industry matures, there will be a growing need for consulting work: performance assessment, installation verification, etc. (LADWP's FiT requires bi-annual inspections by a third-party C10.) Sad that it is so needed, but I certainly see the need growing.
Whey I try to explain that the racks hold the panels down at least as much as up I get some funny looks from the uninitiated. Sometimes it helps to tell them how big a sail board sail is and how it can lift me out of the water. I'm guessing the install/inspection team would fall into that funny look category.
This suggests there might be a business opportunity in orphan array inspection and
I would agree with the local part to implement the projects. It is essential because no one in the world, literally, knows how much we as EPC's have been through with LADWP, LA B&S, and LA Fire. Come on people! They wrote the harshest rules that haven't even gotten to most other markets yet. No not MA, MS, NJ, FL, HI, CO, IA, OH, PA, OR. I speak from first hand experience from Design/Build in each of these states. And, I am prepared to make it a "patiently easy process" when the new age of developers are ready to bring these projects back on track with LCOE. Send me an email when you are ready.
Alleluia! I could not be more excited and delighted to hear that the wisdom Run on Sun has acquired through years of experience in the solar industry will soon be available to the public. Cannot think of anyone better suited to provide a clear, concise, and fair rendering of the facts about solar. Way to go, Run on Sun- trailblazing once again!
I've wondered why some utilities don't get more involved in leasing. It you cant beat them join them and I would think with their economies of scale they could give SolarCity et al a run for their money.
The solution for the specific complaint and crux of the article is to charge in a manner similar to coop electric utilities.
If one years electric utility expenses [maintenance, overhead, fuel purchase, etc] are less than the revenue taken in from monthly retail electric bills, the following year customers electric rate per kWh are lowered.
The inverse is true if costs are higher.
National and state electric rates are well documented and could provide a clear standard that all leases will have to follow.
Lease customers don't seem to realize that the cost escalation for an owned PV system is zero while the ROI on a leased system is also zero.
Let the buyer beware...
Cap and trade, nuclear decommissioning and the extremely cyclical economics of natural gas are all going to make the rate payers wish they could lock in a rate escalation of 5% over the next 10 years.
The question is where the money for that sort of long term planning ends up. The federal and state agencies all but gave it away to tax equity investors (read: hedge funds) when residential PACE was hung out to dry.
Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.