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Mar 28, 2014  | Tom Cheyney  | 1 Comment

Time-lapse solar installation dubstep

Family-run PPC Solar gets in a video groove

Every time I poke around YouTube in search of videos of solar construction projects, it’s clear that an increasing number of installers, EPCs, and marketers have caught the time-lapse bug. Few media can show how a project came together in such a short time span. Months of work compressed into a few minutes? Time-lapse will do the trick. The films range in quality from very rough, shot-with-an-iPhone quality to high-definition, multi-camera professional slickness. Some feature voiceover narration or subtitles with relevant project information, but quite often the clips set the footage to a soundtrack and let the imagery do the talking. My latest discovery of time-lapse solar installation goodness comes from Taos, New Mexico-based PPC Solar, one of the longest-running solar installers in the region.

I first stumbled on PPC Solar’s latest video, a 2:40 charmer highlighting the recent build of a 51MW flat-roof array at Eastern New Mexico University in Ruidoso. The mesmerizing ebb and flow of madly scurrying hardhats laying out the racking and modules in a matter of moments falls squarely in the classic time-lapse sweetspot. The soundtrack packs a modernist rhythmic punch, a wobbly sci-fi dubstep-inflected groove that often syncs up with the video edit. One snippet shows the creation of the cement inverter pad, and the placement of the power conversion station on it. As I found out through the blog about the video on the company’s well-presented website, CEO Dan Weinman is the man in “beast mode” doing the work.

PPC Solar has 10 videos on its YouTube page, most of which can also be accessed on the website. Although I haven’t watched all of them, two films caught my attention. One of them is another time-lapse gem of the Amalia 1 project, a 1.5MW ground-mount system (embedded above). Almost a minute longer than the ENMU video, the larger site provides a more panoramic view than its smaller cousin, and if you watch carefully, check out a real-time motion bit where an array is tilted and sheets of snow fall to the ground. The concluding section of the Amalia video is a lovely, lingering shot of sunrise over the installation. Again, the soundtrack is an edgy dubstep-fueled track, with a meditative sampling of Indian sarangi looping in from time to time. I could see some imaginative DJ slipping this clip into his or her mix at the dance club. Look out Skrillex, solar’s goin’ clubbin’!

The other PPC Solar video that charmed me features the founder of what was Paradise Power Company (hence the PPC), Micha Weinman, and his son, the aforementioned CEO Dan, talking about the roots of the firm (embedded above). When Micha started things in 1979, he was a self-described “underground rebel” living off the grid under his own power at the Lama Foundation. Fast forward to Dan, and we find a small businessman bringing solar into the mainstream. Toward the end of the video, Micha jokes that he has always resented “the code” (as in electrical code), while Dan is a code follower. (Apparently, that’s part of the reason why the son runs the company now too.) PPC Solar’s story makes me wonder how many other father-and-son (or father-and-daughter, mother-and-son, mother-and-daughter) solar outfits are out there. A timeline on the website also provides more historical color.

PPC Solar, I love your vibe!


Sources: YouTube, PPC Solar

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