Intersolar North America Honors Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. with First-Ever Champion of Change Lifetime Achievement Award

CALSSA Representatives, Intersolar Organizers Will Recognize Gov. Brown's Rich Legacy and Commitment to the Solar Industry

Intersolar and ees North America, the premier solar and energy storage events, will award California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. with the first-ever Intersolar Champion of Change Lifetime Achievement AWARD. 

Each year, Intersolar recognizes an individuals' commitment to supporting the development of renewable energy with the Champion of Change AWARD, hosted in partnership with the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA). The Lifetime Achievement AWARD honors pioneers in clean technology and their outstanding accomplishments in advancing the adoption of renewable energy.

"California's solar industry owes a debt of gratitude to Governor Brown for his decades of support," said Bernadette del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA. "It was his original vision and early acceptance of solar energy as a mainstream source of energy that set the wheels of industry in motion decades ago, and still generate change today. Governor Brown has never stopped pushing for progress and change. Somehow he understands better than most public leaders that progress begets progress and that change happens one solar roof, one solar school, one solar farm at a time." 

For nearly five decades, Gov. Brown has dedicated his efforts toward building an emission-free future by enforcing sustainable policies within the state of California while also contributing to national and international green initiatives. Under his leadership, California has solidified its position as a global leader in solar and clean energy, being home to one third of the country's solar workforce and the largest solar market within the U.S. Gov. Brown appeared at Intersolar North America as a keynote speaker in San Francisco, and promoted the economic and environmental benefits role solar and renewable energy technologies offer. 

Gov. Brown's commitment to solar dates back to the mid-1970s and early-1980s during his first term in office as the Governor of California, where he halted the expansion of nuclear power and promoted renewable energy. Now about to end his fourth term, Gov. Brown has been a policy trailblazer for the solar industry. In 2015, Gov. Brown signed a mandate for 50 percent renewables by 2030 inspiring many states like New York and New Jersey to follow suit. 

More recently, the governor formed the U.S. Climate Alliance with state governors across the country, in response to President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, to further battle the effects of climate change and drive the United States' sustainability efforts. Expanding to the international level, Gov. Brown co-founded the Under2Coalition, a global commitment to combating climate change and represents more than 1.3 billion people in GDP, 17 percent of the global population. And this year, under the governor's leadership, California adopted the nation's first policy requiring all new residential construction in the state to have solar installed starting in 2020.

"California has long led the United States, and the world, in solar energy innovation and adoption, due in no small part to the forward-thinking policies of Gov. Brown," said Florian Wessendorf and Daniel Strowitzki, managing directors of Intersolar North America. "We are thrilled we've been able to work closely with Gov. Brown and his administration over the years, and have found his comments on the industry and his actions and progressive policies inspiring. There is no one more deserving of Intersolar's first-ever Champion of Change Lifetime Achievement AWARD."

By honoring individuals such as Gov. Brown, Intersolar and ees North America, as well as its partners, shine a light on those helping drive new energy technologies forward, and underscores the events' commitment to supporting the solar economy in California and beyond. For more than a decade, event organizers have worked closely with organizations such as CALSSA, NAATBatt and NorCal Solar to help advocate for programs and policies important to the solar and storage industries and have also offered financial support. Off-site networking events, such as CALSSA's annual Summerfest, serve as important fundraisers for the organizations. All proceeds from Summerfest go directly toward CALSSA. In 2017, CALSSA raised nearly $500,000 from all activities at Intersolar North America. 

Registration to Intersolar and ees North America's exhibition and conference is available online. Members of the press can now apply for a media pass here. Tickets for Summerfest, as well as other networking activities including a San Francisco Bay Sailing Tour, trip to solar installations in Wine Country, and a tour of notable solar projects in San Francisco are available for purchase. All attendees are able to attend the Opening Ceremony and Champion of Change AWARD Ceremony on Tuesday, July 10 at 8:30 a.m., which will feature keynote speakers Tony Seba, author and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and Elaine Ulrich, Ph.D. Senior Advisor U.S. Department of Energy. Information on all AWARDs can be found here.


Solar Canada event highlights exciting new developments in Canada's solar energy sector

 Solar Canada is Canada's largest and most important solar energy conference and tradeshow. This year, the event will be taking place for the first time in Western Canada, on June 20-21 at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Solar Canada is the Canadian Solar Industries Association's (CanSIA) annual national conference and exhibition, welcoming an estimated 2,200 attendees and more than 80 exhibitors.

As our Federal Government has pledged to increase electricity generation from non-emitting energy sources from the current 80% to 90% by 2030, solar energy continues to move toward becoming the most viable and inexpensive option for new electricity supply. This June, experts and industry professionals will gather to discuss the business and technical opportunities to harness our abundant solar energy resources in electricity systems that have historically been planned for large centralized fossil-fuel generation.

"As a nation, we are seeking new markets for our enormous traditional energy reserves while rapidly expanding cleantech innovation and development," says John Gorman, CanSIA President & CEO. "It is a dynamic time in our energy sector and it is this backdrop that makes this year's conference so timely and of critical importance."

Event highlights include:

  1. High-profile speakers offering unique insights into Canada's dynamic energy landscape, including: Honourable Iain Rankin (Nova Scotia Minister of Environment), Monica Curtis (Energy Efficiency Alberta), Bernadette Del Chiaro (California Solar and Storage Association), and Tim Eckel (SaskPower). 
  2. Powerful insight into important policies, programs and procurements shaping new opportunities in solar, such as renewable energy targets in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia. 
  3. A thriving expo hall, bringing together the entire solar industry supply chain. The expo hall also includes a selection of educational sessions, a PV installation competition, a dedicated section for startup companies, electric cars and more. 
  4. Popular networking events, providing numerous opportunities to connect with colleagues, industry stakeholders and encourage business development.

For more information, please visit:


The Time Has Come for Battery Net Metering

A proposal in California would reward solar customers who use batteries to export to the grid at night. Both industry and utilities like the idea.

By Julian Spector, Greentech Media


Net metering compensates solar customers for the power they contribute to the grid — but if they route the electrons through a battery, they’re out of luck.

Utilities understandably don’t want to pay net-metering rates for batteries charged by grid power. So far, that means solar generation stored in batteries for later use doesn’t earn net metering dollars either. That could change, once the California Public Utilities Commission responds to a petition that, unusually, drew support from both the solar industry and utilities.

"If I’m not charging from your electricity, if I’m charging only from a solar source, the battery is basically an accessory to the solar system," said Joshua Weiner, who worked on the concept as president of design engineering firm SepiSolar, which specializes in solar plus storage. "All the policies in place support this. [...] Somebody just needs to say that this is allowed."

If certifiably solar-powered batteries can get paid, that could unleash a market signal with sweeping ramifications for solar customers and utilities trying to balance a highly renewable grid.

California’s shift to new time-of-use rates lowers the value of solar at midday, when it floods the wires, and increases the price of evening power. That means reduced payback for traditional solar customers who can only export when the sun shines and then have to buy power at night.

Those who pair solar panels with batteries, though, could store midday generation and sell it to the grid at the peak time-of-use rates, if allowed. That personal profit addresses a systemic challenge: the dreaded "duck curve."

Solar customers would make more money by exporting just when utilities are scrambling to fulfill the steep ramps required in the evening, when solar generation drops off and electrical demand spikes. 

"We’ve become very good at supplying solar power in the daytime; now we need to start supplying solar power in the evening," said Brad Heavner, policy director at the California Solar & Storage Association.

Play that out on a statewide scale, and it’s not hard to envision the collective behavior of thousands of solar customers delivering peak power that otherwise would come from gas plants. It simultaneously reduces the technical headaches associated with a surplus of midday solar on the wires.

Keeping the utilities satisfied

Advocates for battery net energy metering (NEM) asked the CPUC to consider it in September, through a “petition for modification of decision.” Regulators could announce their ruling within the next couple of months.

Support from utilities would be crucial to the smooth approval of the proposal. If they had credible arguments that doing this would harm the electric grid, it could dissuade regulators. But, unlike in previous NEM debates, the solar industry and the major California utilities appear to be on the same page.

When the California Solar Energy Industries Association (since renamed the California Solar & Storage Association, or CALSSA) filed its petition last September, the three investor-owned utilities responded with a statement of support.

“The Joint Utilities agree with CalSEIA that the time is now ripe for the Commission to provide further guidance on criteria that both maintain NEM integrity and permit certain DC-coupled PV plus storage systems to participate in the NEM program,” their lawyers wrote.

The utilities want to make sure customers don’t earn NEM dollars for selling grid power back to the grid; that would violate the whole purpose of NEM, which rewards solar generation specifically. Utility feedback in the filing dealt with how to achieve this while minimizing possibilities for gaming the system.

The local energy storage industry group was on board with that sentiment as well.

"We take the issue of NEM integrity very seriously, and we think the outcome effectively does that," said Alex Morris, director of policy and regulatory affairs at the California Energy Storage Alliance.

One way is to ensure the battery cannot export at all, meaning any exports come directly from a solar system. That limits the potential to export at more valuable evening hours, though.

The other option is to modify the firmware in a DC-coupled inverter to render the system incapable of charging from grid power. This would be verified by a third party such as UL to ensure the firmware is set appropriately.

NEXTracker has already completed this testing with its DC-coupled storage-plus-solar tracker product, NX Flow, offering a proof of concept that it can be done.

“The Joint Utilities agree that the firmware solution as described by CalSEIA would provide sufficient assurance that NEM integrity will continue to be maintained,” the filing states.

If a customer figured out how to tamper with the setup, there would be penalties.

"It's an honor code with a legal stick behind it and a UL logo," Weiner said. "If you're in violation of UL or safety codes, you forfeit your interconnection."

New money

Denying a battery the ability to charge from the grid limits its capabilities.

Imagine a snowstorm approaches in the middle of the night, and a battery that could provide backup power is empty from discharging all evening. The grid charge limitation would prevent it from loading up on power before a potential outage.

"It’s not enabling every potential configuration, but it’s saying, 'Here are some configurations that would prove you’re not exporting brown power for NEM credits,'" said CALSSA's Heavner.

The cost of third-party verification would have to be factored into the investment decision as well.

For some users, though, the arrangement’s benefits could easily outweigh its costs.

The assurance of pure solar charging creates solid ground for claiming the federal Investment Tax Credit on the full solar-plus-storage system. Couple that with peak-period NEM revenue, and the situation gets more enticing.

That could be particularly helpful for California’s solar industry, which saw a contraction in residential deployments in 2017. GTM Research expects a contraction in the state’s commercial segment starting in 2018, as the major utilities complete the switch to time-of-use rates.

Commercial customers already have an economic driver to add storage: electrical demand charges, which can make up a hefty share of monthly bills.

California pioneered the commercial storage industry based on demand-charge management coupled with utility contracts. Leading commercial storage providers like Stem and AMS achieve this with standalone batteries, so the net metering policy could attract a different set of developers.

At the macro level, it posits a new approach to system peak demand reduction. California, Arizona, New York and Massachusetts have targeted peak power as an area where clean energy should play a larger role. Doing so could save ratepayers from investing in expensive but little-utilized peaker plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity. 

One way to do that is a clean peak standard that mandates a percentage of peak hours in the year come from clean sources. Arizona is looking at a regulatory proposal based on that concept, and Massachusetts has a legislative proposal in the works.

NEM for batteries could assist that goal with a relatively minor tweak to existing policy.


More than solar

By Julian Spector, Greentech Media

Those who track the shifting acronyms of energy industry groups, take note: The California Solar Energy Industries Association has changed. It's now the California Solar and Storage Association. CALSEIA is out, CALSSA is in.

That loss of a single syllable says something about the increasing presence of energy storage within California's solar industry. This is one of the few places in the U.S. where residential storage has started to gain traction, thanks to high electricity prices and that friendly Self-Generation Incentive Program.

The state is home to Tesla, Sunrun, Sonnen and pretty much everyone else working to popularize residential storage. And it has pioneered large-scale storage, which will become even more valuable as solar penetration increases and curtailment rates rise. The old silos of solar and storage no longer make much sense here.