Intersolar AWARD Applications Open

Now in its tenth year, the Intersolar AWARD series recognizes the most innovative solutions in the solar industry. To embrace the changing market landscape, Intersolar has incorporated a new category within the prestigious Outstanding Solar Projects segment: Smart Renewable Energy.  

The Smart Renewable Projects award focuses on the combination of energy generation, storage, grid integration and energy management. Participants are invited to submit projects and intelligent solutions that analyze and optimize power generation and consumption, as well as those that interconnect various technologies, and thereby help to create smart concepts for managing and storing renewable energy.  

“Over the past decade, the Intersolar AWARD has recognized some of the most impressive innovations in the solar industry, from next-generation solar modules to peer-to-peer solar photovoltaic microgrids,” said Florian Wessendorf, managing director of Solar Promotion International GmbH. “Being at the forefront of the solar industry means we must evolve along with the market, and in this case shining a spotlight on smart systems and grid integration. We anticipate a very competitive pool of applicants in 2017 and strongly encourage all companies to submit a nomination!”  

Any company or project owner set to exhibit at one of the global Intersolar or ees events in 2017 is eligible to submit projects, products and services for consideration. Since 2008, the AWARD committee has received 908 submissions from 45 different countries, and 97 nominations have been awarded the prize to date.

Nominations for the Intersolar AWARD are open until 12 pm PST on March 17, 2017. For more information, please visit The award will be presented on May 31, 2017 at Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry and its partners. The winners of the AWARD in North America will also be recognized at Intersolar North America, July 11-13 in San Francisco.

San José Works to Make Commercial Solar Permit Process Easier

San José Mayor Sam Liccardo came to speak at CALSEIA's Bay Area Chapter meeting on November 16 at SunPower’s San José headquarters.  The mayor was justifiably proud of the efforts that San José has made to promote rooftop solar in their city, citing their early adoption of the residential streamlining standards per AB 2188 and several other recent initiatives across the city.  However, at the meeting some solar industry representatives communicated that while the residential solar permit process in San José is exemplary, there is room for improvement in the commercial solar permit process, citing many cases of long and expensive permitting experiences, and one in particular where a commercial solar permit took 490 days from inception to permit issuance.  This extreme example understandably grabbed the mayor’s attention and a meeting was scheduled to review specific cases of permit process challenges and possible improvements.  On December 21, solar veteran Gary Gerber and the Sun Light & Power team met with a group from the San José building department, including Chief Building Official Chu Chang. For the specific project which took 490 days, once the group looked into the details of the project, it turned out that the challenge for the extreme delay was actually due to a delay on the client’s end -- there was no fault by the City of San José.  Upon learning of this, Sun Light and Power gave the City of San José team an immediate and official apology.  Over the course of the meeting, however, other examples of problematic commercial solar permit and inspection times and fees were discussed, and the City of San José team agreed that much work is needed.  The consensus leaving the meeting was that several changes would be made to the commercial solar permit process, including a commercial solar permit checklist, with the overall goal of making the process cheaper, simpler and more predictable -- for all parties. This exciting collaboration between local government and private industry is integral to our industry’s success.  Representing the 10th largest city in the U.S. and the capital of Silicon Valley, the Mayor’s leadership helps to strengthen the clean energy economy in California.  This leadership is as important as ever as San Jose and our state move away from fossil fuels and towards clean air, local jobs, and economic growth driven by local clean energy development.

Walnut orchard offsets 75% of its electrical costs by going solar

West Sacramento, CA – River Oak Orchards, a proud producer of California’s walnut supply, can say it produces more than just nuts after the successful installation of its solar project. The orchard now produces 280 kW’s of solar energy, offsetting its PG&E costs by 75.8% and saving over $63,000 each year.

River Oak Orchard contracted JKB Energy for the installation of over 880 panels atop a fixed ground mount system. As one of the leading renewable integrators in the state, JKB Energy is helping the agribusiness across California make the transition to solar energy as they reach nearly 100 MW’s of installed capacity to-date.

“Agriculture is as one of the fastest industries to adopt solar in California,” states Chad Cummings, Director of Sales and Marketing for JKB Energy. “We have seen over 200 agricultural businesses make the switch to solar to offset energy costs.”

Like many other farms and orchards, River Oak joins this transition as an opportune way to reduce and control energy expenses. According to JKB Energy, PG&E rates have increased by 4-8% every year on average.

“By going solar, farmers not only benefit from reduced energy costs, but they are no longer impacted by inflation from energy bills,” Cummings explains. Removing this variable cost from a business’ overall operational costs really add up, especially for larger projects.

To further increase savings and maximize power production, River Oak utilized Mounting SystemsSigma Steel ground mounts to support this 280 kW project. The Sigma Steel system was designed in a shared rail configuration, an innovative technique that decreased the amount of rail material by 25%, simplifying logistics and making for a more cost-effective solution.



“Mounting System’s ground mounts were quick and easy to install, which helped keep our installers on schedule,” says Amanda Johnson, Manager of Client Relations for JKB Energy. “With a notable reduction in labor time, our installation rate was faster than expected.”

As with many projects, space constraints served as one of the biggest challenges for JKB Energy’s installers as they collaborated on how to strategically situate the ground mounts without uprooting too many trees or hitting nearby water lines.

However, these issues were resolved with Sigma Steel’s flexibility and customization, which accommodated these common obstacles. “With Sigma Steel’s design flexibility, we were able to install all modules with an additional 24-module array to maximize our customer’s power production,” Johnson states.

With more design flexibility, modules, power supply, and energy offset, River Oak Walnut Orchard can now reap the benefits of solar power throughout the year and hopefully lead the way for others within the agricultural community.


About Mounting Systems:

As a global company serving customers in over 50 countries, Mounting Systems is one of the leading international developers and producers of racking systems for photovoltaic and solar thermal facilities. With over 23 years of expertise in the market, Mounting Systems continues to build on an 8 GW history of excellence and product technological leadership with a continued focus on surpassing customer expectations. Mounting Systems is ISO 9001 certified with US and German offices that offer engineering, logistics, and manufacturing services.


About JKB Energy:

As a state leader in agricultural and commercial solar, JKB Energy has installed hundreds of projects and over 100 megawatts of solar throughout the central valley and beyond. JKB Energy provides turnkey solar solutions designed to virtually eliminate utility bills, while providing superb customer service and industry-leading install practices. As a proud sponsor of the Almond Board of CA and Almond Alliance of CA, JKB Energy is dedicated in its support and service of California’s agricultural sector.


Solar Panel Manufacturer SunSpark USA Marks Strong First Year with 150MW of Generation Capacity Eyes Continued Growth in 2017

(RIVERSIDE, CA) – Energized by contracts with leading solar installers on both U.S. coasts, solar module maker SunSpark USA forecasts over 30% growth in its power production for the coming year. That translates into some 200MW of manufacturing capacity, earning the year-old company a spot among the largest solar panel producers in the United States.

Much of SunSpark USA’s initial marketing efforts have focused on Southern California, where the Riverside-based company is based. The region has long been viewed as a renewable energy hot spot, with its favorable climate and public embrace of green technologies driving strong demand for solar across San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

While the company will continue to leverage its competitive advantage stemming from its proximity to the California market, growth in 2017 is forecasted to come from both the northeast U.S. as well as Texas and neighboring Sun Belt states. Cumulatively, those areas are projected to deliver an incremental 50MW gain to SunSpark’s production output for 2017 – aimed at the rooftop residential and commercial markets, as well as government and military installations.

In addition to its company branded mono and poly modules, SunSpark USA offers full-line OEM capabilities for customers selling panels under their own proprietary brands. Power outputs range between 250W-355W, depending on module type, all UL-certified and performance tested through independent labs such as respected San Francisco Bay-area firm DNV-GL. Select mono panels are also eligible for the HERO program.

SunSpark USA operations are housed inside a sprawling 165,000 square foot facility that once served as a manufacturing plant for amphibious vehicles used in World War II. It opened its doors in the fall of 2015, welcoming Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and a contingent of civic officials on hand to celebrate the company’s arrival and the job opportunities the plant continues to bring.