5 2014 Solar Award Winners You Need to Know
“The photovoltaic market is one where growth and opportunity remains high, the last few years has seen enough investment and research impetus to ensure there is ample opportunity for companies that can demonstrate technological development towards grid parity while reducing overall cost,” writes Jackie Cannon, Solar Industry Awards Event Organizer.
“The growth of the PV market has been driven by necessity as the world comes to grips with a dwindling supply of fossil based fuels to meet the growing global appetite for energy. In this highly competitive environment, which products, process and people will provide that creative ingenuity?”
The answer, of course, is the 2014 winner of the Solar Award. Out of the long list of honorees, we’ve chosen 5 that are certainly worth paying attention to.
5. Project Development Award—Power Clouds, Power Clouds Project
At its most basic, Singapore’s Power Clouds is a company looking to make solar more accessible and affordable. Essentially, Power Clouds plans construction of solar projects across the globe and participants lease a solar panel and are compensated for its generation. It provides an alternative for financing solar panels and has already seen almost 50,000 participants sign up.
“Power Clouds, despite its brief history on the market and fierce competition with important competitors, has been chosen as archetype of Business Project Development given its impressive portfolio and visionary leadership in the world,” Roberto Forlani, the project’s head, said. “With impressive numbers, facts and figures Power Clouds establishes itself one of to be the biggest solar energy producers in the world, implementing the most ambitious business project ever conceived on the market.”
More information on the project can be found here.
4. Turnkey Supplier Award—Panasonic, End-To-End Solar Solution
Japan’s Panasonic is working to make solar more accessible, but in a different way. The company knows that there can be a barrier to going solar for some, as dealing with multiple installers, vendors, and contractors can be a hassle. Panasonic has consolidated everything into a single process called Panasonic Eco Solutions. It’s essentially a one-stop-shop for all things solar, with everything going through a single channel.
“We are the only company to bring all phases of solar project development from finance to design installation to maintenance under one roof backed by a production guarantee,” Panasonic writes. “And because of its reputation of reliability and financial stability Panasonic alleviates a customer’s worries about dealing with multiple vendors of questionable reliability stability and ability to cooperate with one another to complete projects on schedule and on budget.”
More information on Panasonic Eco Solutions can be found here.
3. Rural Electrification Development Award—Phaesun, BOSS (Business Opportunities with Solar Systems)
Making energy accessible in the world’s rural areas starts with accepting that sometimes connecting to the grid just isn’t possible. Germany’s Phaesun is working to bring off-grid solar to rural communities in a variety of scales. However, Phaesun is focused mainly in the commercial sector, allowing businesses to operate in places they might not have been able to before. The company points to the example of bringing refrigeration to rural areas, which is vital to safe food practices.
“The BOSS Refrigeration Kits are the best solution for reliable cooling or freezing needs far from the electricity grid,” the company writes. “These kits include the solar fridge Steca PF 166 as well as the entire equipment for charging and installation material. The kits are best suitable for the use in grocery stores, restaurants, etc.”
More information about BOSS can be found here.
2. System Integration Award—skytron, skylog Data Logger System
As we discussed last week, the efficient and intelligent utilization of data is essential for the evolution of the solar industry. Germany’s skytron has developed a reliable data monitoring device in its skylog system. It can communicate with nearly any variety of terminal devices, regardless of make or model. It can also store that data for up to 4 weeks in the case of a power failure.
That’s not all, however. As the developers note, skylog is built with robustness and versatility in mind.
“skylog is equipped with an industrial router. This allows the use of DSL, UMTS or satellite communication in order to forward current plant information to the plant supervision platform PVGuard or to other performance analysis tools,” the company explains. “skylog therefore forms an indispensable component as it is an elementary part of the skytron real-time monitoring, control and supervision system for utility-scale PV installations.”
More information on skylog can be found here.
1. Industry Development Award—Rexel, Solar Energeasy
Much like Panasonic, France’s Rexel knows that going solar can be difficult sometimes, since there are so many different parties and components to juggle. With their Energeasy platform, however, they’re attempting to make it that much easier by putting the power in the hands of the consumer to essentially manage their own project. To Rexel, the biggest benefit of their platform is an intangible one: confidence in solar energy.
“Confidence in the industry has yo-yoed in recent years,” the company admits. It notes that renewable energy prices are not yet fully competitive with traditional sources and that in a industry based entirely on ROI, hearing a negative anecdote or two about poorly installed panels or no ROI can be highly detrimental.
Energeasy gives consumers a guarantee on what they’re going to get, before they get it. If what’s delivered isn’t what’s expected, their money can be refunded.
“This is the first time a company is offering an end-to-end Solar PV package for both the installer and the consumer through an extremely user friendly and intuitive online platform, bringing both the installer and consumer a user experience more often associated with purely consumer-facing retail brands,” the company writes. “This is the Apple IPhone equivalent of a solar installation package.”
More information about Energeasy can be found here.
The full list of winners from this year’s Solar Awards can be found here.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.