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Streamlining solar soft costs for small installers

My recent poster presentation from Solar Power International 2014, “Using Seven Forms of Waste and Critical Path Method to Lower Residential Solar Soft Costs,” lays out a methodology that residential solar installers can use to help them most effectively target soft cost reductions. This methodology pulls best practices from automobile manufacturing and other industries as […]

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Making the jump from residential to commercial solar

A growing number of residential solar installers are expanding their services to offer commercial solar projects. This additional service helps to diversify and expand the company’s topline revenues and can provide a compelling opportunity in a period of declining system prices. However, these new commercial jobs represent both an opportunity and a challenge. On the […]

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Time, motion, and solar installation labor efficiency

With Intersolar North America 2014 now behind us, many attendees and industry media reflected that it was a smaller, more focused show. For example, instead of the dozens and dozens of nondifferentiable Chinese module manufacturers of years past, there were fewer, mostly larger recognized companies. The presence of solar thermal product lines was also significantly […]

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The SolarCity-Silevo surprise

The reverberations of the blockbuster news of the SolarCity-Silevo surprise acquisition deal extend well beyond the solar community, with the Wall Streeters in particular scrambling to put their spins on the implications. When Elon Musk speaks, people listen—and then fall all over themselves to contextualize and analyze what he says. He is, after all, the […]

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Big solar, Japanese style

Several massive imagination-capturing solar plants offer power-generating proof that the age of true utility-scale solar has begun. Whether it’s Ivanpah’s trio of sci-fi-like power towers surrounded by hundreds of thousands of heliostats in the Mojave Desert, California Valley Solar Ranch’s sprawling expanse of high-efficiency tracker-based systems, or the newly commissioned Amanacer PV farm shimmering in […]

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The expansive solar value stream

One of the big-picture takeaways from the DOE SunShot Grand Challenge Summit was a reminder of just how expansive the solar value stream really is. From early-stage research in quantum dot solar cells waaaay upstream to programs developing low-cost, high-efficiency crystalline-silicon cell architectures all the way down the mighty river to awardee projects innovating balance-of-systems […]

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A solar #ThrowbackThursday

On most Thursdays, Twitter and Facebook are awash in #ThrowbackThursday posts. Old photos, news links, and other ephemera flow convivially through the social media channels. The trend extended into the solar community today, when Carter Lavin tweeted a question asking a small group of folks to recount their first gigs in solar. When I replied […]

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Agua Caliente state of mind

To call the Agua Caliente solar power plant “majestic” might be a stretch, but the sight of such a vast PV expanse does inspire more than a little awe. When I visited the construction site in September 2011, the project was well under way, with several dozen megawatts of First Solar cadmium telluride thin-film PV […]

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Whole lotta disruption goin’ on

PHOENIX–Disruption may be a dirty word for certain status quo lovers and stability devotees, but among the true believers in the solar power cadre, we likes us our disruption in both its evolutionary and revolutionary forms. Admittedly, use of the term has grown a bit tiresome. Though it’s less accurate in some respects, albeit a […]

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Building to solar code

There’s a new item on the required reading list for the U.S. solar PV system design, installation, project engineering, and code compliance communities. The just-published April/May 2014 issue of SolarPro includes an exhaustive review of much of the related general, PV-specific, and interconnection code changes in the new “NFPA 70: NEC 2014” edition, the U.S. […]

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