Archive for September, 2012

Solar Power International 2012: New trends in technology

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center joined thousands of other solar industry professionals in Orlando, F.L. in early September for the largest solar industry event in North America, Solar Power International (SPI) 2012. The conference is co-organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and this year featured a keynote address by former president Bill Clinton.

N.C. Solar Center staff attended the show to learn more about new trends in the industry, make new contacts, and represent North Carolina and its strong solar industry on a national stage.  As in previous years, the Center exhibited at the conference and had support through partnerships/sponsorships. Many thanks to our sponsors:

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Raleigh Economic Development, N.C. Department of Commerce, ABB, Evolve Energy, Parker Poe, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, Carolina Solar Energy, RB Engineering, Commscope, Enlight Solar, Argand Energy, Southern Energy Management, Kimley-Horn and Associates, SolarHot, and First Century Energy.

The exhibit hall housed over 900 exhibitors, including more than 200 first-time exhibitors, compared to last year’s 1,200 exhibitors.  The halls were dominated by photovoltaic products and service providers, while there was a relatively small area of solar thermal exhibitors.  In their own ways both solar technology industries are, as Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, said in his opening remarks, “experiencing the best of times and the worst of times.”  The U.S. solar thermal industry is developing new products and rapidly expanding a development model of third-party owned systems that sell metered solar thermal energy, while they are struggling to lower system prices to compete with dropping PV prices, excitement about PV, and low natural gas prices.  The U.S. PV industry is rapidly growing the size and number of PV installations, while a severe component and system cost pressure is driving industry consolidation, led by module manufacturers.

This rapidly growing industry is spurring lots of innovation, which was noticeable  by all the new products and services. The major system component makers continue to add features designed to increase value for PV system owners. One trend seen was module manufacturers teaming up with microinverter manufacturers to provide AC solar modules.  AC modules were available at SPI 2011, but were much more commonplace this year.  Inverter manufacturers are introducing new products designed to drive down costs and meet the demands of the electric grid. Many of the new inverters for the U.S. are transformerless, which are common in Europe now and are lighter and more efficient than transformer-based inverters. The newest inverters are also starting to offer communication with the local gird operator/utility, opening the door for a smarter grid powered by solar.

At least two major solar manufacturers displayed new energy storage systems designed to increase the value of a PV system. These systems ranged in size from a small residential system to a system designed for integration with a utility-scale PV system.  These new energy storage systems come at a price premium today, but are expected to drop in cost and become more prevalent as the growth of electric vehicles help drive down the cost of the batteries.

The exhibit hall had just as many mounting system exhibitors as inverter exhibitors, and just as much product innovation as well. Many vendors were offering product updates, or entirely new systems, designed to lower system lifetime cost, primarily by decreasing the time required to install the system. There were nearly as many monitoring system exhibitors who were offering whiz-bang real-time monitoring of PV system performance. And, there were at least a few new exhibitors offering advanced software that plows through huge amounts of map based data with the goal of providing a very low cost evaluation of potential PV sites.

The N.C. Solar Center will be exhibiting at SPI 2013 in Chicago to represent North Carolina’s growing solar and clean energy industry.   For partner and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Shannon Helm at

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Week

Posted on: September 26th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


Monday, October 1 – Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Triangle Region will host Triangle Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Awareness Week to promote electric transportation and educate the public on what it means to be a PEV ready region.

NC State kicked off PEV Awareness Week early on Friday, September 21, 2012 with the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Grand Opening on Centennial Campus. The event was also part of Campus Sustainability Day.

Marbles Museum is celebrating PEV Awareness Week and kicking off National Energy Awareness Month with a free movie screening of “Revenge of the Electric Car” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 5, 2012.

There will also be other activities, including an electric vehicle display on Marble’s courtyard, a special Ride-n-Drive event with a Nissan LEAF, and several energy-themed children’s activities (regular admission fees apply).


Click here to register for the Marbles Museum event.


Click here for more information about PEV Awareness Week and other events happening throughout the week.

IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Exposition being held at the Raleigh Convention Center

Posted on: September 18th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

This week, staff from the North Carolina Solar Center is supporting the efforts of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake County Chamber of Commerce at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Exposition being held at the Raleigh Convention Center.  The Raleigh and Wake County Chambers of Commerce are sharing a booth to tell the success stories of clean energy, smart grid, and utility innovation happening right here in Wake County.  Engineers and policy analysts from the Solar Center are providing technical expertise to companies interested in relocating or expanding their operations to North Carolina.  The N.C. Solar Center appreciates the opportunity to work closely with local governments as they reach out to industries in the solar, wind, smart grid, and energy efficiency space.

You can learn more about the Congress & Exposition here:

Solar firm Semprius opens Henderson plant Sept. 26

Posted on: September 17th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

DURHAM, N.C. — Solar technology startup Semprius will opened its production plant in Henderson on Sept. 26.

Semprius is based in Durham but chose Henderson for its first manufacturing facility. The company is eligible to receive some $8 million in state and local tax incentives.

Plans call for Semprius to hire some 250 workers over the next several years to man the Henderson facility.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue attended the opening day launch at a 9 a.m. ceremony.

“The highly anticipated opening of this new facility has significant implications for the future of renewable energy,” said Sempris Chief Executive Officer Joe Carr. “It’s a major milestone for Semprius, and we’re very proud of our team and our public and private partners that have helped us bring it in on time and on budget. With production ramped up, we will be able to effectively service our customers, including companies like Siemens and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.”

Semprius has developed proprietary technology for development of photovoltaic solar modules. The company has set a record for conversion efficiency of solar power conversion to energy at 33.9 percent.

That achievement earned Semprius high praise recently from MIT.

Semprius has raised more than $40 million in venture capital from investors such as Intersouth Partners in Durham as well as In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA, plus Siemens Venture Capital.

In July, Semprius secured $8 million in credit.

Horizon Technology Finance Corporation and Silicon Valley Bank agreed to provide an $8 million venture loan “facility.”

Horizon will provide $5 million and Silicon Valley Bank the remaining $3 million.


Reposted from WRALTechwire

N.C. Solar Center attending SPI 2012 in Orlando

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center will be exhibiting at Solar Power International 2012 in Orlando beginning September 11 through September 13. The show is expected to draw thousands of solar energy industry professionals from 100+ countries with more than 900 exhibiting companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum.

The N.C. Solar Center’s focus is to meet and talk with clean energy companies interested in locating in North Carolina, to educate attendees about the current policy surrounding solar and clean energy in North Carolina, and to gather information and learn more about new trends in the solar industry.


Booth # 3548

Location: Orlando Convention Center

Dates: 9/11/12 – 9/13/12


Thanks  to our…..



The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Raleigh Economic Development, and Evolve Energy



ABB, Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), Southern Energy Management, Parker Poe, Kimley-Horn, N.C. Department of Commerce, RB Engineering, ENlight Solar, CommScope, Argand Energy, Carolina Solar Energy, First Century Energy, and SolarHot.


About SPI

SEIA and SEPA—two non-profit organizations—present SPI. All proceeds from Solar Power International are used to further the associations’ mission: to support and advance U.S. solar markets through market-building and educational initiatives.

Learn more about Solar Power International 2012

Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by shannon No Comments
A Survey of the Regulatory Environment


Cultural resources such as historic buildings and districts occupy an important place in our nation’s built environment; however these same resources are often considered impediments to achieving a community’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. While this assumption is at times unfounded, the fact remains that certain regulatory practices may limit the use of renewable energy technologies on historic resources.

However, with the adoption of financial incentives and the removal of regulatory impediments to the use of solar as a viable power source, solar energy systems are being installed on buildings in urban and rural communities throughout the United States.  As solar technology improves and become more affordable, this trend is likely to continue.

The question is, then, when and how are solar panels to be installed on historic buildings, in historic districts or at historic sites?

The report, Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings: A Survey of the Regulatory Environment, prepared by the North Carolina Solar Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, offers a pathway to better integration of solar energy systems onto historic resources.

This paper was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.


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