Category Archives: C&I

3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution

By Whit Fulton, ConnectDER

With the new administration inaugurated in January, and with Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed last week, those of us working to help solve the climate crisis can’t help but feel hopeful with what should be a new, aggressive approach to energy policy. As the world is facing a daunting climate crisis, and with a nearly 4-year delay in taking action to solve it in Washington, I was pleased to see that President Biden selected Governor Granholm as Energy Secretary. While so many have spoken volumes about her work resurrecting the auto industry after the 2008 financial crisis, it was her efforts on the state level shepherding aggressive renewable energy policies which helped create 125,000 green jobs in Michigan. 

I was equally thrilled to see the new President appoint former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi to the top two climate advisory positions in his administration. All three have an impressive track record of moving the country towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Now that all three are officially in place, it’s time to get to work.

In Mr. Biden’s own words, climate change will have the urgency of a “day one” issue. Beyond re-joining the Paris Agreement in his first 100 days, Biden and Granholm will need to begin rolling out practical policy plans to make significant investments in clean energy, technology, and infrastructure to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. 

More than anything else however, and as with any industry, the renewable energy industry needs policy certainty. Wind, solar, and distributed energy resources (DERs) have all faced major policy uncertainty through shifting dynamics in Washington over the past six years. While it’s clear now that renewables are making unprecedented progress, the new administration must work to solidify policy so we can help simplify and accelerate the creation of jobs and our energy transition. Here are my thoughts.

Set Reliable Standards that Drive Interoperability

One unfortunate quirk of the US’s historic balancing act between Federalism and Republicanism is the patchwork of city, state, and regional standards that govern how clean energy can be installed and attached to the grid.  Simplifying, streamlining, and normalizing on key standards would reduce transaction costs and promote safety, unlocking massive acceleration in new deployments and jobs, and all at a fraction of the cost of straight subsidy to industry (don’t get me wrong, subsidies are great too, but let’s focus on the best returns on investment out there).  For example: there should be a standard one-page application for interconnection that can be filled out and filed electronically that is universal for utilities and local inspectors across the country.

So how do we do it?  First, Biden’s team should empower a single national certification organization that would examine, regulate and certify compliance for stakeholders with all relevant standards for electrical systems, processes and interconnections in the new energy economy.  Second, take a carrot approach: organizations that meet the standards should be rewarded with modest but meaningful tax or other incentives.  Forget sticks, since many organizations may have unique circumstances that justify taking a slower approach.  Best of all, there are excellent organizations working on this problem already like SEPA, NABCEP, SEIA, and EPRI, to name a few.  Empowering them with the needed funding and mandate to execute their mission at a larger scale would generate outsize returns for the industry and the planet.  

Promote Certified U.S.-made and Manufactured Products

Clean energy technology is only as clean as the components it’s made from.  While we do depend heavily on imports, and will continue to do so, we can’t really call our infrastructure clean if it’s built using abusive labor practices and carbon-intensive energy.  In this moment, there is an unprecedented opportunity to promote onshoring of renewable energy technologies to aid meaningful domestic job creation. This is where Granholm’s experience in the rust belt and with the auto industry will be vital; these areas of the country are and will continue to feel the strain of decarbonization. They need new opportunities and areas for advancement. Certified U.S. made and manufactured products earn a home field advantage not only through these job creation benefits, but because they also support the greater human rights and environmental justice mission of the U.S., and don’t offshore our carbon footprint. 

The Biden Administration should realign its trade policy with China and others to quantify any tariffs not in terms of arbitrary tit-for-tat retaliation but in terms of entrained carbon and other related CO2e measures.  The funds collected from the tariffs should then be allocated directly to a dedicated fund for carbon negative investments at home, thereby helping offset the cost of the tariffs, stimulating onshore cleantech industry activity, and creating a virtuous cycle to incentivize lower carbon everywhere.

Establish A Transparent Carbon Market

Markets work. At least, they work more cost-effectively than overbearing regulatory edicts.  Establishing a national carbon market, a simple process that charges electric generators and other major carbon emitting industries a cost per ton of carbon, can act as a disincentive to produce power from highly-polluting means and spur clean energy deployment (read: jobs). This is a powerful motivator for the energy transition, creates new funds for beneficial uses, and is already being done regionally.

Our working model: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”), is a cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI works by capping and reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector. Each RGGI state’s Budget Trading Program limits emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power plants, issues CO2 allowances, and even offers a secondary market for tradable certificates, allowing generators that more effectively reduce emissions to benefit financially.  Long-established U.S. emissions markets for nitrogen oxides and sulphur, bi-partisan creations, have shown enormous cost savings relative to imposed technology controls. This model should be applied to carbon and expanded nationwide.

Our Last Chance & Greatest Opportunity

The way the new administration perceives and reacts to climate change will set it apart from international peers (not to mention the outgoing administration). Avoiding a two degrees Celsius global temperature increase will require not only infrastructure investments but also a completely different way of looking at our need for and use of energy as individuals and homeowners. 

At this exact moment in time, we Americans have an unprecedented opportunity to improve our energy system, one that, done right, leads to a stronger economy and a cleaner, safer planet. With resolve and clear policy, America can assume the mantle of leadership needed to carry us into the next century and beyond.


About the Author

Whit Fulton is the founder and CEO of ConnectDER. ConnectDER devices enable easy, safe, low-cost, and rapid connection of distributed energy resources (DERs) to the power grid, via a connection to a collar that installs between the electric meter and meter socket. Whit founded ConnectDER to give inventors a place to solve meaningful problems and to ensure they have an ownership stake in the solutions they create.  His personal mission is to create technologies and business approaches that unlock profitable models for renewable energy.  Whit honed his analysis, negotiation, and product development skills through a series of senior managerial positions in energy analytics consultancies and cleantech startups.

The post 3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution

By Whit Fulton, ConnectDER

With the new administration inaugurated in January, and with Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed last week, those of us working to help solve the climate crisis can’t help but feel hopeful with what should be a new, aggressive approach to energy policy. As the world is facing a daunting climate crisis, and with a nearly 4-year delay in taking action to solve it in Washington, I was pleased to see that President Biden selected Governor Granholm as Energy Secretary. While so many have spoken volumes about her work resurrecting the auto industry after the 2008 financial crisis, it was her efforts on the state level shepherding aggressive renewable energy policies which helped create 125,000 green jobs in Michigan. 

I was equally thrilled to see the new President appoint former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Ali Zaidi to the top two climate advisory positions in his administration. All three have an impressive track record of moving the country towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Now that all three are officially in place, it’s time to get to work.

In Mr. Biden’s own words, climate change will have the urgency of a “day one” issue. Beyond re-joining the Paris Agreement in his first 100 days, Biden and Granholm will need to begin rolling out practical policy plans to make significant investments in clean energy, technology, and infrastructure to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. 

More than anything else however, and as with any industry, the renewable energy industry needs policy certainty. Wind, solar, and distributed energy resources (DERs) have all faced major policy uncertainty through shifting dynamics in Washington over the past six years. While it’s clear now that renewables are making unprecedented progress, the new administration must work to solidify policy so we can help simplify and accelerate the creation of jobs and our energy transition. Here are my thoughts.

Set Reliable Standards that Drive Interoperability

One unfortunate quirk of the US’s historic balancing act between Federalism and Republicanism is the patchwork of city, state, and regional standards that govern how clean energy can be installed and attached to the grid.  Simplifying, streamlining, and normalizing on key standards would reduce transaction costs and promote safety, unlocking massive acceleration in new deployments and jobs, and all at a fraction of the cost of straight subsidy to industry (don’t get me wrong, subsidies are great too, but let’s focus on the best returns on investment out there).  For example: there should be a standard one-page application for interconnection that can be filled out and filed electronically that is universal for utilities and local inspectors across the country.

So how do we do it?  First, Biden’s team should empower a single national certification organization that would examine, regulate and certify compliance for stakeholders with all relevant standards for electrical systems, processes and interconnections in the new energy economy.  Second, take a carrot approach: organizations that meet the standards should be rewarded with modest but meaningful tax or other incentives.  Forget sticks, since many organizations may have unique circumstances that justify taking a slower approach.  Best of all, there are excellent organizations working on this problem already like SEPA, NABCEP, SEIA, and EPRI, to name a few.  Empowering them with the needed funding and mandate to execute their mission at a larger scale would generate outsize returns for the industry and the planet.  

Promote Certified U.S.-made and Manufactured Products

Clean energy technology is only as clean as the components it’s made from.  While we do depend heavily on imports, and will continue to do so, we can’t really call our infrastructure clean if it’s built using abusive labor practices and carbon-intensive energy.  In this moment, there is an unprecedented opportunity to promote onshoring of renewable energy technologies to aid meaningful domestic job creation. This is where Granholm’s experience in the rust belt and with the auto industry will be vital; these areas of the country are and will continue to feel the strain of decarbonization. They need new opportunities and areas for advancement. Certified U.S. made and manufactured products earn a home field advantage not only through these job creation benefits, but because they also support the greater human rights and environmental justice mission of the U.S., and don’t offshore our carbon footprint. 

The Biden Administration should realign its trade policy with China and others to quantify any tariffs not in terms of arbitrary tit-for-tat retaliation but in terms of entrained carbon and other related CO2e measures.  The funds collected from the tariffs should then be allocated directly to a dedicated fund for carbon negative investments at home, thereby helping offset the cost of the tariffs, stimulating onshore cleantech industry activity, and creating a virtuous cycle to incentivize lower carbon everywhere.

Establish A Transparent Carbon Market

Markets work. At least, they work more cost-effectively than overbearing regulatory edicts.  Establishing a national carbon market, a simple process that charges electric generators and other major carbon emitting industries a cost per ton of carbon, can act as a disincentive to produce power from highly-polluting means and spur clean energy deployment (read: jobs). This is a powerful motivator for the energy transition, creates new funds for beneficial uses, and is already being done regionally.

Our working model: The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”), is a cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI works by capping and reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector. Each RGGI state’s Budget Trading Program limits emissions of carbon dioxide from electric power plants, issues CO2 allowances, and even offers a secondary market for tradable certificates, allowing generators that more effectively reduce emissions to benefit financially.  Long-established U.S. emissions markets for nitrogen oxides and sulphur, bi-partisan creations, have shown enormous cost savings relative to imposed technology controls. This model should be applied to carbon and expanded nationwide.

Our Last Chance & Greatest Opportunity

The way the new administration perceives and reacts to climate change will set it apart from international peers (not to mention the outgoing administration). Avoiding a two degrees Celsius global temperature increase will require not only infrastructure investments but also a completely different way of looking at our need for and use of energy as individuals and homeowners. 

At this exact moment in time, we Americans have an unprecedented opportunity to improve our energy system, one that, done right, leads to a stronger economy and a cleaner, safer planet. With resolve and clear policy, America can assume the mantle of leadership needed to carry us into the next century and beyond.


About the Author

Whit Fulton is the founder and CEO of ConnectDER. ConnectDER devices enable easy, safe, low-cost, and rapid connection of distributed energy resources (DERs) to the power grid, via a connection to a collar that installs between the electric meter and meter socket. Whit founded ConnectDER to give inventors a place to solve meaningful problems and to ensure they have an ownership stake in the solutions they create.  His personal mission is to create technologies and business approaches that unlock profitable models for renewable energy.  Whit honed his analysis, negotiation, and product development skills through a series of senior managerial positions in energy analytics consultancies and cleantech startups.

The post 3 cost-effective steps President Biden can take to accelerate a clean energy revolution appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

How to make the most of the bifacial solar module opportunity

By Leonardo Botti, FIMER

Without doubt, the solar PV industry is one of the most exciting sectors to be working in at the moment. With the International Energy Agency (IEA) reporting a huge 18-fold increase in the amount of installed solar PV capacity between 2010 and 2020, and IEA executive director Fatih Birol, stating that “I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets”, the growth of solar looks set to continue.

During this time, we have also witnessed a huge increase in innovative applications – solar is no longer ‘just’ a pure power conversion but it has been the foundation of the DG (Distributed Generation). It can be installed in the most extreme locations to harness the power of the sun and generate renewable power.  At FIMER, we have had the pleasure of working on projects based in locations as diverse as deserts and mountains and even in the sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctic.

One of the major trends we have seen in recent years has been the growth in bifacial module installations.  Although the technology itself is not ‘new’ — bifacial modules have been around for many years — it is only relatively recently that the use of these modules has become more common in the solar PV sector, having previously been regarded as a fairly novel technology.

It’s easy to see why it has become more popular.  As well as achieving maximum energy performance by utilizing both sides of the panel, the technology itself has seen a significant reduction in cost compared to standard modules, making it a more realistic solution for a greater number of projects.  Growth has been also fuelled by the development of PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) technology and favourable tariffs and subsidies in some markets.

In fact, a report last year from the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic (ITRPV) predicted that the marketshare for bifacial modules will increase from ten percent in 2020 to at least about 35 percent by 2030. This reflects a 2019 report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables that predicted that bifacial module capacity will exceed 21 GW by 2024 with Asia Pacific, North America and the Middle East being cited as the biggest growth markets. 

So, what are the benefits of using bifacial modules?

As mentioned earlier, the primary benefit is that they provide higher energy performance.  According to a SolarPro study of PV module manufacturers, bifacial modules have shown energy yield increases of up to 11 percent for fixed tilt systems and 27 percent for tracker systems, when compared to similarly rated traditional modules.  This trade-off between additional cost and extra performance is increasingly seen as worth the investment.

This has been particularly evident in the increasing adoption of bifacial modules in the utility-scale, industrial and large commercial markets, as they benefit from higher solar generation and lower energy costs, particularly for tracker systems.

What are the challenges?

However — as with many technologies — there are still challenges.  While the side facing the sun works in the same way as traditional modules, variables on the rear side do impact the level of reflective light it receives, for example, the quality or color of the roof or ground.  This unpredictability means that it is not a suitable technology for all applications.  

Bifacial modules also present a challenge for inverter manufacturers who need to ensure that their technology can respond to the higher level of input current generated compared to traditional modules.  In any installation, the inverter must allow for maximum current from strings — with bifacial modules, the inverters installed need to be able to cope with an even higher current.

Therefore, the requirement for inverter load flexibility is crucial, which means that matching the right inverter to a bifacial module project is a critical action to undertake if the project is to be a success. 

As a result, the newly launched and the next generation of inverters are being designed to cope with the increased incoming current requirements for bifacial module systems.  Inverter improvements also include greater granularity of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and support to higher incoming currents, so, for bifacial module installations, a multi-MPPT string inverter is the optimal choice. 

We recently launched our new string inverter — the PVS-10/33-TL — that is designed to provide this high level of flexibility.  While designed specifically for the commercial and industrial markets, the higher kW units (20, 30 and 33k W) are particularly suited to bifacial module installations, forecasted to increase in those applications too going forward. 

As a result of reducing costs and an increase in successful projects utilizing bifacial modules, installations are expected to grow in almost all territories.  While they do come with their challenges, the possibilities of a higher energy yield mean they will continue to be a popular choice for utility-scale, industrial and larger commercial installations, particularly tracker systems.  This means that, for installers, choosing the right inverter partner will be crucial to maximizing the bifacial opportunity.


About the Author

Leonardo Botti is Managing Director – C&I Line of Business with FIMER. Based in Tuscany, Italy, Leonardo has over 15 years in the renewable energy sector. Heading up FIMER’s Commercial and Industrial business line, he is responsible for growing market share, bringing new solutions to the market and delivering high standards of customer care. 

His career spans roles as Director of Business Development for Power One Renewable Energy Solutions and Global Head of Product Management for ABB Solar. With Master’s Degrees in Governance and Business Strategy and Electronic Engineering he brings broad knowledge of the sector to the FIMER team.

The post How to make the most of the bifacial solar module opportunity appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

How to make the most of the bifacial solar module opportunity

By Leonardo Botti, FIMER

Without doubt, the solar PV industry is one of the most exciting sectors to be working in at the moment. With the International Energy Agency (IEA) reporting a huge 18-fold increase in the amount of installed solar PV capacity between 2010 and 2020, and IEA executive director Fatih Birol, stating that “I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets”, the growth of solar looks set to continue.

During this time, we have also witnessed a huge increase in innovative applications – solar is no longer ‘just’ a pure power conversion but it has been the foundation of the DG (Distributed Generation). It can be installed in the most extreme locations to harness the power of the sun and generate renewable power.  At FIMER, we have had the pleasure of working on projects based in locations as diverse as deserts and mountains and even in the sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctic.

One of the major trends we have seen in recent years has been the growth in bifacial module installations.  Although the technology itself is not ‘new’ — bifacial modules have been around for many years — it is only relatively recently that the use of these modules has become more common in the solar PV sector, having previously been regarded as a fairly novel technology.

It’s easy to see why it has become more popular.  As well as achieving maximum energy performance by utilizing both sides of the panel, the technology itself has seen a significant reduction in cost compared to standard modules, making it a more realistic solution for a greater number of projects.  Growth has been also fuelled by the development of PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) technology and favourable tariffs and subsidies in some markets.

In fact, a report last year from the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic (ITRPV) predicted that the marketshare for bifacial modules will increase from ten percent in 2020 to at least about 35 percent by 2030. This reflects a 2019 report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables that predicted that bifacial module capacity will exceed 21 GW by 2024 with Asia Pacific, North America and the Middle East being cited as the biggest growth markets. 

So, what are the benefits of using bifacial modules?

As mentioned earlier, the primary benefit is that they provide higher energy performance.  According to a SolarPro study of PV module manufacturers, bifacial modules have shown energy yield increases of up to 11 percent for fixed tilt systems and 27 percent for tracker systems, when compared to similarly rated traditional modules.  This trade-off between additional cost and extra performance is increasingly seen as worth the investment.

This has been particularly evident in the increasing adoption of bifacial modules in the utility-scale, industrial and large commercial markets, as they benefit from higher solar generation and lower energy costs, particularly for tracker systems.

What are the challenges?

However — as with many technologies — there are still challenges.  While the side facing the sun works in the same way as traditional modules, variables on the rear side do impact the level of reflective light it receives, for example, the quality or color of the roof or ground.  This unpredictability means that it is not a suitable technology for all applications.  

Bifacial modules also present a challenge for inverter manufacturers who need to ensure that their technology can respond to the higher level of input current generated compared to traditional modules.  In any installation, the inverter must allow for maximum current from strings — with bifacial modules, the inverters installed need to be able to cope with an even higher current.

Therefore, the requirement for inverter load flexibility is crucial, which means that matching the right inverter to a bifacial module project is a critical action to undertake if the project is to be a success. 

As a result, the newly launched and the next generation of inverters are being designed to cope with the increased incoming current requirements for bifacial module systems.  Inverter improvements also include greater granularity of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and support to higher incoming currents, so, for bifacial module installations, a multi-MPPT string inverter is the optimal choice. 

We recently launched our new string inverter — the PVS-10/33-TL — that is designed to provide this high level of flexibility.  While designed specifically for the commercial and industrial markets, the higher kW units (20, 30 and 33k W) are particularly suited to bifacial module installations, forecasted to increase in those applications too going forward. 

As a result of reducing costs and an increase in successful projects utilizing bifacial modules, installations are expected to grow in almost all territories.  While they do come with their challenges, the possibilities of a higher energy yield mean they will continue to be a popular choice for utility-scale, industrial and larger commercial installations, particularly tracker systems.  This means that, for installers, choosing the right inverter partner will be crucial to maximizing the bifacial opportunity.


About the Author

Leonardo Botti is Managing Director – C&I Line of Business with FIMER. Based in Tuscany, Italy, Leonardo has over 15 years in the renewable energy sector. Heading up FIMER’s Commercial and Industrial business line, he is responsible for growing market share, bringing new solutions to the market and delivering high standards of customer care. 

His career spans roles as Director of Business Development for Power One Renewable Energy Solutions and Global Head of Product Management for ABB Solar. With Master’s Degrees in Governance and Business Strategy and Electronic Engineering he brings broad knowledge of the sector to the FIMER team.

The post How to make the most of the bifacial solar module opportunity appeared first on Renewable Energy World.