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U.S. installs nearly 4 GW of solar in Q4 2017 – GTM Research has given its preliminary estimate for installations over the full year 2017 at 11.8 GW, a 22% decline from 2016 levels. Down 22% from the record-setting 2016. What amount of this was hangover and what amount the Suniva/Trump Tax? What amount was the residential lease company shrinking and cash purchases just starting to grow? Residential and Utility fell – Small business/Commercial/Industrial grew. In my opinion – good report!
Yesterday I went to Solar Power Northeast in Boston and got to see solar panels. There were some real nice residential products – from at least Panasonic, Mission Solar, LG, Solaria and Canadian Solar. There was off grid from MidNight solar – I’m a big fan of their hardware. The good looking Pika Energy battery kits were at the Panasonic Booth. Drones services for analyzing rooftops and land. And a lot of other stuff…but – mostly let’s talk about panels.
Panasonic was showing off their 320W All Black and 335W High Efficiency panels. I was educated a bit by Mukesh Sethi at their booth about the history of bifacial solar cells – but first – some pictures:
The solar panels and the specifications speak for themselves. The last image if a picture by me of the actual trade booth’s picture of panels on a roof (pardon the lack of pixels). The image was of a ‘Frameless Racking Installation.’ Mukesh told me Panasonic made their panels thicker – from 30mm to 40mm – so they’d have the structural stability needed to use a ‘snap in’ high aesthetic rail less racking system. No metal rails showing from ediges – only pretty solar panels seen.
Now, back to my (our) education on bifacial solar cells: Sanyo was one of the (or The) forerunners of bifacial solar cells, and that’s where Panasonic’s technology comes from. Long before today’s ‘bifacial glass on glass’ solar panels we had ‘bifacial backsheet’ solar panels (an example being the Panasonic High Efficiency panel above).
This conversation with Mukesh was a result of my confusion on the topic that I expressed in this article. Panasonic gave it some thought and removed ‘bifacial’ from the black backsheet panel since the benefit was low, but kept it on the white high-efficiency panel. And I agree – even though the panels aren’t glass on glass bifacial – there is a real, 10W 0.9% efficiency bump. Thanks for the follow up and feedback Panasonic.
Mission Solar had their gorgeous 300W monoPERC out. Jeffrey Kassler of Fortune Energy – the booth showing off these panels – said they do sell some volume direct to consumers.
Solaria – their panel seems to disappear into nothingness. And that’s what most of us want in these aesthetic focused lines of modules. Also, a super up close of their shingle cells. Real nice looking and high-efficiency. Oh – and I met Dru Sutton – the multiple generation EV owner/solar salesperson we interviewed in the story linked above, so that was cool.
Canadian Solar (one of the largest manufacturers globally) is launching a half cut solar cell, triple diode that is aimed at the high aesthetic residential market. See images below. The half cut aspect of the solar cell is hard to see in the mini panel (but there are eight solar cells there – I promise), but those three diodes on the back sure aren’t! Both of those items will lead to increased system production in the long game because of lower temperatures/better electrical characteristics.
SolarEdge had their integrated solar inverter/car charger out:
And in the not your average bear category – eNow with their solar panels/sticker/on top of a 18 wheeler product (something I’ve always secretly thought would happen – even as people mock me). They’re located in Warick, RI, very close to me – if you all are interested, I’ll reach out for a story. Thank Canadian Solar for hosting them at their table.
The featured image is of eNow truck from their website.
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