Redeployable solar trial at shopping centres

Redeployable solar is a very interesting topic as the issue of solar panel recycling comes to the fore. This week ARENA have announced funding for redeployable commercial solar via Australian startup Solpod. 

Redeployable solar

Redeployable solar – on Friday the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding for an Australian start up (Solpod Pty Ltd (Solpod)) to trial the installation of movable solar panels on commercial and government building rooftops. 

According to a post on the ARENA website, the startup has undertaken trials with ARENA, ERM Power, GPT and Property NSW.

Redeployable Solar Solpod
Redeployable Solar Solpod (source: solpod.com

Arena CEO Darren Miller, who took over from previous head Ivor Frischknecht last year, was quoted discussing the redeployable solar and their partnership with Solpod:

“Solpod’s new way of installing solar will pave the way for businesses who were previously locked out of rooftop solar to take up renewable energy solutions and options under shorter term power purchase agreements.

“This Australian start up will help to accelerate solar PV innovation and allows for renewable energy alternatives in niche markets, providing a cost-competitive alternative to standard methods of fixed mounting for delivering rooftop grid connected solar PV,” Mr Miller said.

There were also some comments from founder and CEO of Solpod James Larratt, who discussed the new ‘game-changing’ tech:

“Despite rooftop solar being cheaper and more sustainable than the grid, many businesses have made the rational decision to not adopt solar because of other factors such as length of commitment, disruption on site and damage to buildings. Solpod is the game-changer that removes these barriers and enables businesses to capture the savings in energy costs.”

“Solpod’s solution can adapt to meet individual business needs. For businesses that rent their premises, Solpod can offer short-term contracts to match lease terms. For landlords, Solpod allows flexibility for changing site use and will not damage the roof,” he said.

You can learn more about Solpod’s relocatable commercial solar via their website.

 

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Floating Solar Power in Lithuania

Floating Solar Power in Lithuania is the next big thing as a grant has been given for a floating solar photovoltaic power plant to be built alongside the 900MW Kruonis hydroelectric plant. 

Floating Solar Power in Lithuania

Floating Solar Power in Lithuania – this will be the first floating solar power plant in the Baltics and is an exciting step in the right direction for the small country. The Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LSBA) granted €235,000 (~$370k AUD) for construction of an experimental floating solar photovoltaic power plant at the 900-megawatt (MW) Kruonis hydroelectric plant in Lithuania. 

“The floating solar power plant at Kruonis is one of the ideas that could help Lithuania to become an international leader in renewable energy solutions,” said Darius Maikstenas, chairman and CEO of LEG.

Floating Solar Power in Lithuania
Floating Solar Power in Lithuania (source: Worldbank.org)

Renewable Energy in Lithuania represented 27.9% of the country’s overall electricity in 2016. With wind capacity of 178 MW installed in 2016 and average power usage of 1.1 GW, Lithuania was the EU member state with the highest level of new wind capacity installed in 2016 (relative to its power consumption).

According to an article on DW.com, over 65% of the current existing floating solar in the EU is located within the UK, with the Netherlands in second place. 

A world bank report entitled “Where Sun Meets Water” from November last year shows that our current floating solar capacity is 1.1GW – which could grow to up to 400GW if things go in the right direction. 

“Floating solar technology has huge advantages for countries where land is at a premium or where electricity grids are weak,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director for Energy and Extractives at the World Bank. “Governments and investors are waking up to these advantages, and we are starting to see interest from a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

If you want to read the report please click here to download: Where Sun Meets Water: Floating Solar Market Report (PDF)

If you’re interested in the technology, we have written plenty more about floating solar power here! 

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Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

Vicinity Centres, who will provide 31MW of clean energy to 22 shopping centres and their retailers by the end of the year, is trialling bifacial solar panels to see how that will affect their choices for stage 3 of Vicinity’s solar program.

Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

According to an article in PV Magazine, the first bifacial panels were installed at Kurralta Central Shopping Centre to get a better yield from their available roof space. Initial tests showed 6-8% to 16-18% increased output (they tried a bunch of different locations and coatings on the roof to maximise output). 

 “It’s early days,” said Renae Sambrooks, General Manager of Energy and Commercial Management for Vicinity, “but results from Kurralta made us feel confident enough to install bifacials in three more centres.

“Over the next few months results of those trials will help us make decisions around our Stage 3 solar program,” she said in comments quoted in PV Magazine.

We’ve reported fairly comprehensively about Vicinity Centres and solar investment in the past – we’re also taken a look at the Stockland shopping centres and their commercial solar investment.

“As of today,” Sambrooks said, “we’ve produced 2.5MWh of clean energy from 13MW of installed capacity and we’re in the process of constructing the next 18 MW, which will be completed by the end of 2019.”

There are a few other bifacial solar panels available:

An article in Green Tech Media notes that the bifacial PERC modules can boost performance by a staggering 27%. 

The Bifacial Solar Panels at Kurralta are one of the first steps Vicinity Centres are making to end up with their 31MW of renewable energy output – Sambrooks discussed the long term goal:

“Our vision was to create intelligent energy destinations. We’re not just whacking solar panels on roofs. It’s a long-term investment and we’re always thinking how we can sweat the solar installations and all our other energy initiatives to make a return.”

Still very early days, so we’ll keep you updated how they go with the testing and what Vicinity decide to do with regards to commercial solar panels.

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Solar glass shopping centre – Vicinity Centres/ClearVue.

Australia’s largest retail landlord, Vicinity Centres, has partnered with innovative solar glass company ClearVue Technology to install transparent solar panels (solar glass) to help their shopping centre’s environmental footprint and potentially save money on energy.

Solar Glass – Vicinity Centres partner with ClearVue 

We’ve written about ClearVue Technology quite a few times on this website, from their solar bus shelters to commercial solar windows, the company have been working hard bringing their integrated clear glass solar panel to market in Australia and overseas.

The company have now partnered with Vicinity Centres to install solar glass in its Warwick Grove shopping centre atrium entry. The solar glass atrium has 26 solar cells inbuilt, which generate up to 1MW. It also works as insulation – with materials inside the window deflecting energy to small PV cells at the edge of the screen. This solar window tech is something we’ve been very excited about for a long time so it it’s amazing to watch it enjoying some real world application! 

According to ClearVue, this is the first commercial installation of fully transparent solar cell glass in the entire world. The solar atrium will power lighting, outside signage, a digital display screen within the centre, and it’ll send any excess energy to battery storage at night. So it’s a pretty far cry from actually powering the shopping centre, but that’s not really the point right now. 

“While other products exist, these are typically optically distorted or coloured, or they are not yet commercially available and are still in the research and pre-commercialisation stages,” a ClearVue spokesman said in quotes to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Solar Glass - Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source: clearvuepv.com)
Solar Glass – Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source: clearvuepv.com)

The Vicinity Centres general manager for shopping centre management, Justin Mills, was also very excited about the new installation:

“(the solar atrium) reinvents the way we harvest renewable energy, reduces our exposure to the volatile energy market and our carbon footprint – a key focus for Vicinity.

“We’re excited to be trialling such innovative, leading-edge technology and embarking on a global-first in solar energy application.” he continued.

If you’d like to read more about solar power installed at shopping centres, take a look at the Stockland Solar Power Rollout – which will see 12.3MW installed across 10 shopping centres in Australia.

You can also read about Vicinity Centres’ solar project – which is the investment of $28m to install 11.2MW of solar power in five shopping centres.

According to Smallcaps, ClearVue Technologies have also signed a a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Grafsol General Trading for exclusive distribution rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. 

“This MoU represents a great opportunity for ClearVue to break into the Middle Eastern region,” said Victor Rosenberg, executive chairman of ClearVue Technologies.

We’ll report more about ClearVue in the middle east next week! 

Have a great weekend.

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GAF Energy to sell residential solar.

Standard Industries has announced it will launch a rooftop solar company named GAF Energy in the US – they are already the world’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer.

GAF Energy Rooftop Solar

GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar
GAF Energy Decotech Rooftop Solar (source: standardindustries.com/solar)

As per a post on the Standard Industries website, the new company, GAF Energy, will work together with GAF to offer their DecoTech® solar roofing solution to “everyday consumers”

It’s an interesting niche to walk into – GAF’s new product offering has some competitors in the PV integrated roof tiling space, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, Tractile Solar Roof Tiles, Monier Solartileor Sonnen/Bristile’s Solartile  These are all fantastic products but fairly expensive at this point in time – hopefully having more competition in the market leads to more competitive prices and more powerful roofs.

“GAF Energy capitalizes on the historic challenges facing the rooftop solar industry – acquisition and installation costs – and turns them into demonstrable strengths – making it easy for customers to say ‘yes’ to solar rooftops,” said Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy. “Our product is smart, integrated and economical, and we hope it will mark a fundamental shift in rooftop solar adoption around the world.”

Rooftop solar in America is a lot less developed than in Australia – according to Renew Economy, only 3% of USA homes had solar panels installed in 2017 – in stark comparison to Australia’s 30%. As such there’s plenty of opportunity if the product and price is right, and the governments get on board to help. Will integrated solar roof tiles be the way forwards in the future for domestic solar? We’ll soon find out. In any case, it’s exciting to see 

For more information about GAF, visit www.gaf.energy. If you’d like to read the press release about launch of the company and new DecoTech solar roof, please click here

It shouldn’t be long before we have some more information about how these solar roofs are performing, and as the results trickle in we will be creating a solar roof tile comparison document for anyone interested in integrating solar panels into their roof. Please watch this space! Exciting days ahead for rooftop solar.

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