Michigan utility & SunPower launch rooftop solar pilot

26 May: Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility and CMS Energy subsidiary, has partnered with high-efficiency module producer SunPower for a new solar energy pilot programme in the state.

The programme allows customers to install SunPower modules on their rooftops for a ‘full-service home solar solution’, and a streamlined option to power their homes with solar.

Under the Solar Distributed Generation Pilot programme, customers can earn bill credits for excess power produced, receive the power they need from the utility when they aren’t generating electricity and also own their own solar system.

“At Consumers Energy, we're rolling out new programs for Michigan residents as we all do our part for the environment,” said Dennis Dobbs, Consumers Energy's vice president of enterprise project management, engineering and services. “We are pleased to respond to the growing interest we see from Michigan residents in generating their own solar energy.”

The limited-time program ends 31 December 2018.

‘Syria Solar’ Initiative saves lives

29 May: The Union of Medical Care & Relief Organisations (UOSSM) has launched the ‘Syria Solar’ Initiative after completing a 127kWp, 480-panel pilot project designed to stabilise electricity in hospitals in the country.

The project is also comprised of 288 batteries capable of storing 720kWh of power.

After six years of conflict, the Syrian grid has suffered significantly, meaning that many hospitals are dependent on unreliable and expensive diesel generators.

The project aims to provide a more cost-effective and constant energy solution for hospital patients. The project is expected to save over 7,000 litres of diesel per month on average. This amounts to approximately 20-30% of the monthly energy cost of the hospital. The system can fully power the ICU, operating rooms and emergency departments during diesel outages. With the success of the pilot project, plans are drafted to deploy solar systems in five more vulnerable medical facilities in Syria.

“We believe that this type of projects brings hope. Solar energy is a democratizing force, which has the capacity to empower institutions and communities in very positive ways,” said Tarek Makdissi, UOSSM Syria Solar Initiative project director. “Syria is in one of the best regions globally to harvest solar energy, and needs to be leveraged. During the project implementation; restructuring the hospital electrical network, and working through the winter to deploy the technically complex system, were our greatest challenges. The goal now is to empower the health system by scaling the solar project to at least five other critical hospitals. Our dream is to see every medical facility in Syria running on clean, sustainable energy.” 

Australian Northern Territory Aboriginal community to get solar hybrid facility

30 May: A remote Aboriginal community south of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory is in the process of constructing a 1MW solar-diesel hybrid project as part of the Territory’s four-year AU$55 million SETuP programme in collaboration with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The facility – to be built by Germany’s Conergy – is expected to provide 100% of the local community’s energy needs during the day, with the diesel generators for use at night.

The Nauiyu community is one of the first to be chosen under the programme, which aims to establish how a solar-diesel hybrid system can achieve energy savings and stabilise the grid. 

Legend Solar acquires Aspire Energy

29 May: Utah-based residential installer Legend Solar has acquired energy-efficiency company Aspire Energy and created a new division.

The new division will allow Legend Solar to offer homeowners and businesses “a bundle of energy-efficient services, and thereby reduce the size of the solar array needed to offset the customer’s energy consumption,” according to the company.

“Our new Legend Energy services will help homes and businesses tap into not only the sun but also other green energy best practices,” said Shaun Alldredge, co-founder and co-owner of Legend Solar.  “This unique combination is a first in our industry – helping homeowners save more than if they were doing all this separately.”

Solar FlexRack to install 14MW of trackers for agricultural projects in California

30 May: Ohio-based PV tracker company Solar FlexRack has agreed to install 14MW of its TDP Turnkey Solar Trackers for agricultural projects for California’s Coldwell Solar.

Adding PV trackers to agricultural operations can significantly reduce electricity costs and support energy independence. According to Solar FlexRack, its TDP trackers ensure systems are constructed for long-term performance and ultimately save costs on solar project bundles.

“Coldwell Solar performs a thorough inspection of a property to determine the most appropriate, site-specific, solar solution that maximizes cost savings. Solar FlexRack's TDP Turnkey Solar Trackers were the optimal solution for these agricultural installations ensuring successful projects,” said David Hood, CEO, Coldwell Solar.

Earlier this month, the company announced that its G3P fixed-tilt racking has been selected for a 50MW pipeline of PV projects in Minnesota.

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