Top 11 Solar Associations & Organizations for Solar Industry Professionals

The rise in the popularity of solar energy comes with the rise of the number of organizations and associations that aim to promote this form of renewable energy even further. As solar installers, it’s important for you to be aware of these organizations because they are the ones that will most likely provide you with news regarding the solar industry and organize solar conferences and trade shows.

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Top 36 Biggest Solar Energy Conferences in the World

It’s an established fact already that for solar installers, staying updated on the happenings in the solar industry is a must. Luckily, since the solar industry is getting bigger and bigger as time goes by, there are various different ways to stay informed. The first one is to follow various solar online publications — from blogs to websites and e-magazines. The second one is to join solar forums and engage with the members there. And the third is to attend various solar events such as solar trade shows, and, of course, solar conferences.

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Top 10 Biggest Solar Power Online Publications

Solar energy is one of the best forms of energy in this day and age. For one thing, it’s renewable and non-polluting, and for another, it contributes to job creation and sustainable development in communities. And it’s a form of energy that’s still continuing to grow. But with its constant growth, how would you as solar installers stay up-to-date on news related to solar energy? That’s simple: just follow a bunch of online publications that post news about solar energy regularly.

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10 Best Solar Power Forums

It’s very crucial for solar installers to stay updated on anything that is related to solar power. This means they have to always lookout for the latest news or developments or case studies in the solar industry. Normally, the perfect way in order to stay informed is to follow numerous solar blogs, websites, and magazines. But there is another way in order to do that, and that would be to engage in various solar power forums.

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Content Marketing Influencers That Solar Companies Should Follow

For every solar installer to succeed in online marketing, it’s important for them to follow successful marketing influencers online. That way, when the marketing influencers post a podcast or a blog post about online marketing and tips on how to make your own marketing strategy better, the solar installers will be the first to know. They will get firsthand information really easily, and they will constantly learn a lot of new things about online marketing.

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15 Podcasts that Solar Energy Industry Professionals Should Listen to

In this day and age, the solar industry is booming rapidly. And this rapid growth of the industry comes with the equally rapid stream of changes, developments, and innovations. As solar installers, it’s crucial for you to be updated on all these changes and developments in the industry, but with its booming growth, it seems impossible to do so.

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solar-powered boat

Solar-powered boat cruises to raise energy awareness

solar-powered boatA few years after mechanical engineer Carter Quillen bought the 50-foot concrete sailboat Ketch du Jour, he changed the vessel’s name to the Archimedes.

For one thing, Quillen had replaced the masts with solar panels, so the Ketch was no longer a ketch (a two-masted fore-and-aft-rigged sailboat).

“I was looking for a name that had some symbolism,” Quillen said. “Archimedes was an innovator. He was the first engineer and a thought leader of his time. He mixed technology with intellectualism. I wanted to follow his path of innovation. We’re due for some change.”

That change is toward energy independence, and the tool is solar power.

Kaiser Permanente buys 153 MW of wind and solar power

kaiser permanente goes renewableKaiser Permanente’s recent announcement that it would purchase enough renewable energy to meet half of its electricity consumption in California made big news, from the Bay Area (such as here and here) to the cleantech and sustainable business communities to national outlets (witness here and here).

The health care provider’s deal with project developer NextEra Energy Resources for 110 megawatts of solar and 43 megawatts of wind power capacity is unique in its origins and instructive for other companies seeking to meet their sustainability goals. It also is an excellent example of the progress promoted by the Business Renewables Center, an RMI-convened and member-led platform that accelerates corporate procurement of off-site renewable energy by bringing together corporate buyers, project developers, and service providers (including founding members Kaiser Permanente and NextEra Energy Resources).


Why would a major health care organization care about clean energy? Kaiser Permanente believes climate change is a health issue. Emissions from fossil fuel-powered generators—both directly (air pollution) and indirectly (e.g., global warming that impacts mosquito and disease spread, ozone levels, and heat stress)—are closely tied to human health. And so Kaiser Permanente is leading by example, aggressively pursuing renewable energy to slash its own carbon profile and encouraging others to follow suit.

Kaiser Permanente took a significant step in 2012, when it adopted a sustainable energy policy with the target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2008 levels by 2020. Its initial efforts focused on increasing energy efficiency, onsite generation, and other means of procuring green power, but it soon recognized that these strategies would not be sufficient to meet its goal. “As an organization that is constantly adding members and building hospitals and medical offices, achieving our 30-percent greenhouse gas reduction goal was not possible through energy conservation and distributed generation alone,” explains Chief Energy Officer Ramé Hemstreet. “Reduced energy intensity was being offset by new facilities and equipment, and even Kaiser Permanente has only so many roofs and parking lots that can accommodate solar.”


How did Kaiser Permanente realize its goal to procure off-site renewable energy? It had wisely laid the groundwork by establishing its motivation (the 2012 policy and emissions reduction target) and building internal familiarity through the experience of doing power purchase agreements for on-site generation. Even so, this was a significant transaction that required strong and savvy leadership, substantial expertise, and the right balance of perseverance and patience. Kaiser Permanente’s deal team engaged the right external advisers, identified a list of potential project developers with which to partner, issued the RFQ to that list, ultimately selected NextEra Energy Resources as the best fit, and worked with NextEra to reach a deal that made financial sense for both parties. At the same time, the deal team realized it needed to champion the opportunity with internal stakeholders and adeptly navigated the appropriate internal processes to validate the transaction.

The resulting off-site deal will have a large impact. Kaiser Permanente consumes about 1.6 terawatt-hours of electricity every year across its 38 hospitals, 600 medical offices, and other facilities, mostly in California but also in seven other states and the District of Columbia. The off-site wind and solar projects alone will produce enough electricity to meet about one third of that consumption overall, or more than 40 percent of its consumption in California (additional onsite renewable generation will bring the total to 50 percent in state). In total, Kaiser Permanente’s renewable generation in California will avoid 215,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing more than 45,000 cars from California’s roads.


Those looking to duplicate Kaiser Permanente’s success should begin by focusing on three things:

  • Assembling the right team. Kaiser Permanente’s deal team included vice presidents in its facilities department (one of whom was also its chief sustainable resources officer) as well as specialists from its energy, treasury, procurement, controller, and public affairs groups. That leadership and breadth allowed the deal team to effectively navigate the range of potential issues, procedures, and approvals faced during the course of the initiative. The deal team both possessed technical expertise and evinced the flexibility and innovation required to move a large organization to consider a transaction unlike any it had done before.
  • Solidifying the justification message. Kaiser Permanente’s internal deal team was able to articulate how the deal was both consistent with the organization’s mission and economically feasible. The team knew that too little attention to the deal’s economics and related financial and accounting issues might have given C-suite executives and others reason to doubt the team’s competence to reach the desired outcomes. At the same time, too much focus on the deal’s economics would have risked those internal stakeholders viewing the proposed transaction through a financial lens alone. According to Hemstreet, “our mantra in regards to the economics was appropriate for a health care organization: ‘do no harm.’ The team focused on achieving the GHG reduction goal without increasing energy costs.”
  • Viewing the deal as having both external and internal process milestones, and managing it accordingly. Kaiser Permanente’s deal team attended to not only the mechanical steps of identifying and negotiating a potential deal, navigating it through execution, and implementing it, but also to the internal stakeholder engagement process—what one might term the psychological aspects of the deal. The latter commonly arise from the fact that a proposal to do something fundamentally new and highly complex is likely to induce some level of discomfort: nobody wishes to be responsible for overlooking a detail that later could cause problems for the organization. Recognizing this, the deal team allocated significant resources to making internal stakeholders comfortable with the deal through processes tailored to Kaiser Permanente’s highly collaborative culture. For example, the deal team built support among regional executives rather than relying solely on a top-down decision imposed on them.

These lessons are just the beginning. Many companies in Kaiser Permanente’s position have needed to build their internal capability to complete these deals from the ground up. Fortunately, Kaiser Permanente, NextEra Energy Resources, and other BRC members offer unprecedented transparency into the inner workings of deals like this one, so that collectively we can streamline processes, improve success and time to completion rates, and remove or lower barriers. Thanks to the BRC and its members, everyone benefits from shared learning, rather than having to go it alone and start from scratch each time.



SolarCity Now A Utility

SolarCitySolarCity, which specializes in rooftop solar energy panels, has long accused utility industries of monopolistic practices that discourage the change necessary to expand power options.

Until now.

SolarCity announced March 16 that it has developed a system called “Grid Logic” that will use software and conventional generators to maintain the flow of power to its standard solar panels, and will store the energy its panels generate in batteries manufactured by Tesla Motors.

Homeowners with rooftop solar panels can still use the devices for their day-to-day electricity needs, the company says, but SolarCity’s goal is to have a generous supply of power in storage if a hurricane, an earthquake or another natural disaster strikes.

“There has been a dramatic increase in severe weather events the last few years – climate-related, almost certainly – and it’s led to more grid outages,” SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass told the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury-News.


Nyngan solar power plant

Southern Hemisphere’s Largest Solar Power Plant Set to Start

nyngan(Bloomberg) — A project in the Australian Outback that will more than double the country’s large-scale solar output should begin generating its initial power as early as this week, according to First Solar Inc.

The A$290 million ($220 million) Nyngan solar plant in New South Wales state will start at 25 megawatts before increasing to full capacity of 102 megawatts, said Jack Curtis, Asia-Pacific manager at First Solar, a partner in the project led by AGL Energy Ltd. The plant will be fully operational by July, Sydney-based AGL said last week.

The solar project is expected to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere until a 141-megawatt First Solar project in Chile begins in late 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. AGL and First Solar, the U.S. panel manufacturer, are also building a 53-megawatt solar plant in Broken Hill, west of Nyngan in New South Wales.


7-day solar

Energy Department Debuts 7-Day Solar Challenge With $10M in Prizes

7-day solarThe Energy Department has announced final rules for a prize competition to make it faster, cheaper, and easier for Americans to install solar energy systems and spur solar deployment nationwide.  The SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar competition challenges innovators around the country to develop solutions to reduce the time and processes involved in installing solar energy systems, decreasing costs and improving customer experience so more Americans can choose solar energy to meet their electricity needs.

The rate of solar energy installations across the U.S. has soared over the past few years, reaching more than 17 gigawatts of installed capacity—enough to power the equivalent of more than 3.5 million average American homes. Despite tremendous gains in deployment and steady cost reductions for solar technologies, the process to install a solar energy system remains time-consuming and complex due to high non-hardware “soft costs,” which currently make up more than half the cost of a solar energy system.

Today, the time it takes to complete even a small residential photovoltaic project can vary widely—anywhere from a few days to six months. On average, each additional day it takes to connect a new PV system represents about $4 million of lost electricity generation at America’s expected 2015 deployment levels. The Race to 7-Day Solar competition specifically addresses this issue and aims to foster greater collaboration between local governments, businesses, nonprofits, utilities, and communities. The official rules released today create an opportunity for these groups to form teams and work together to develop innovative solutions to increase process certainty and slash the time it takes to permit, install, inspect, and connect both small and large photovoltaic (PV) systems to the electric grid.
7-day solar

Eligible teams will compete in two contests over 18 months to implement their creative solutions to cut the permit-to-plug-in time toward seven days for small PV systems up to 100 kilowatts or seven weeks for large PV systems up to 1 megawatt. During this period, the teams will demonstrate their innovations at-scale by deploying a minimum of 10 megawatts for the small system contest or 15 megawatts for the large system contest.  Read the prize competition rules and eligibility requirements on the competition website.


solar canal india

Solar panels on top of canal impress U.N. chief

solar-canalU.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday praised India’s ingenuity and cutting-edge technology while dedicating Gujarat’s second canal-top 10-MW solar power project to the nation. The solar panels are arranged on top of the Vadodara branch of the Sardar Sarovar project canal, probably a first-of-its-kind project in the world to generate power.

In a brief address, Mr. Ban said he was honoured to inaugurate “this impressive project” and commended the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Looking at the canal top, he said he saw “more than the glittering panels — he saw the future of India and the future of our world. This facility shows how one project can have multiple uses of conserving land and using renewables.”

solar disrupts energy market

Report: Energy efficiency could cost U.S. utilities $48 billion

solar disrupts energy marketHOUSTON — Two trends in the power sector — the expansion of distributed generation and advances in energy efficiency — could cost U.S. utilities up to $48 billion annually by 2025, according to a new report.

The study by the consulting firm Accenture was based on models that examined improvements in solar panels, electricity storage and other trends that will impact the bottom lines of U.S. utility companies.

Distributed generation refers to power generators – much smaller than typical power plants – installed at or near the sites they serve. They often use renewable resources like solar or wind power and are posing a conundrum for traditional utilities because they allow customers to handle large portions of their power consumption internally.