Solar Power International 2018 Preview

Vendor and Equipment Highlights

After a two-year absence, SPI 2018 returns to Southern California for a 4-day residency at the Anaheim Convention Center, September 24–27.

Produced by Solar Energy Trade Shows, Solar Power International (SPI) is a collaboration between the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Co-located events include Energy Storage International, Hydrogen + Fuel Cells North America and the Smart Energy Microgrid Marketplace. With more than 620 confirmed exhibitors and over 1,500 companies already represented, the producers hope to draw 20,000 industry professionals to Anaheim. If attendance exceeds expectations, as was the case in Las Vegas in 2017, SPI will have achieved 5 consecutive years of sustained growth.

SPI 2018 attendees can expect to find more technologies and services showcased on the expo floor than ever before, with dedicated pavilions or halls for hydrogen fuel cells, smart energy microgrids, software, energy storage, and commercial and industrial solutions. The expo floor will include dedicated areas for start-ups, poster presentations and networking. It will also host multiple trainings, receptions and happy hours. Away from the expo hall, attendees can choose from 100-plus educational sessions and a half dozen special events, including a block party, golf tournament, fun run and solar job fair. Educational opportunities include pre- and post-conference workshops, as well as concurrent sessions covering a wide range of topics such as asset management and finance, grid modernization and others. With so much to choose from, SPI attendees would be smart to prioritize their needs and plan their schedules in advance.

Because there is never enough time to take everything in—and some people will not be able to make the trip—this article showcases ten vendors entering SPI with new products, services or announcements, as well as an off-site documentary film screening. Some of these items debuted in June at Intersolar North America. However, companies generally save their biggest North American market announcements for SPI. So book your flight to LAX or John Wayne Airport and get those tickets to Disneyland.

ABB • Booth 2604


Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, ABB is a multinational corporation with four global business divisions: power grids, electrification products, industrial automation, and robotics and motion. After acquiring Power-One in 2013, ABB based its US solar inverter operations in Phoenix, Arizona, where it employed as many as 450 people. In response to challenging market conditions, however, the company laid off its US solar manufacturing employees in 2016, moving these jobs to Latvia and Italy. With this restructuring in its rearview mirror, ABB has rebuilt its North American solar inverter portfolio from the ground up. In March, the company introduced a new residential single-phase inverter line that includes five power ratings between 3.3 kW and 6.0 kW. The line is compatible with Tigo’s TS4 optimizer platform for rapid-shutdown compliance. In June, it introduced its newest commercial 3-phase string inverter, the 60 kW TRIO-TM-60. Both inverter platforms are listed to UL 1741 SA and are Rule 21 compliant. ABB’s best new inverter product may be yet to come to North America. At Intersolar Europe, the company took home an innovation award for the PVS-175-TL, a 1,500 Vdc–rated string inverter for small- or large-scale ground-mount applications capable of delivering 185 kW of active power.

ALSOENERGY • Booth 1420

AlsoEnergy / 866.303.5668 /

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, AlsoEnergy provides software platforms and technology solutions for monitoring and controlling energy production assets. Ranked by Greentech Media as the top independent solar monitoring vendor in the US commercial market, AlsoEnergy provides standardized data acquisition systems, custom-designed supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) solutions and California Independent System Operator (CAISO)–compliant RIG solutions. After introducing its PowerTrack platform in 2009, AlsoEnergy expanded its portfolio and customer base by acquiring DECK Monitoring in 2013. Fast-forward 5 years and AlsoEnergy is once again in mergers and acquisitions mode. In July, AlsoEnergy acquired the assets of another US solar monitoring pioneer, Draker Corporation, and announced a partnership with skytron energy, a leading solar monitoring company in Europe. These moves strengthen AlsoEnergy’s solutions portfolio and global footprint. At SPI AlsoEnergy will showcase its monitoring, control and performance analysis solutions, including PowerCMMS, a computerized maintenance-management module for PowerTrack that centralizes plant operations and analytics.

AURORA SOLAR • Booth 138

Aurora Solar /

San Francisco–based solar software developer Aurora Solar provides a cloud-based PV system sales and design platform, Aurora, which streamlines and automates everyday activities. Depending on their subscription plan, solar companies can use Aurora as a sales platform only or as an integrated sales and engineering platform. With an address and an electricity bill, Aurora users can determine a site’s solar potential, design the optimal photovoltaic system, perform financial analysis and create a beautiful sales proposal in about 10 minutes. Users with access to the engineering package can generate single-line diagrams exportable to ArcGIS, AutoCAD, SketchUp or Visio. This version of the software also verifies NEC compliance and autogenerates a bill of materials and a detailed cost breakdown. Annual subscription plans cost $135 or $220 per user per month for the basic (sales) or premium (sales and engineering) license, respectively. With 5 years of experience to draw from, Aurora Solar is redesigning its popular software platform from the ground up, incorporating features and capabilities designed to help users sell more solar. In addition to simplifying and streamlining the platform, the developers are adding new tools, such as automated obstruction detection and auto-stringing, to speed up users’ workflow. They are also scaling up project capacity support capabilities. Aurora users will soon be able to design multi-megawatt PV power systems for commercial rooftops or ground-mount applications.

CPS AMERICA • Booth 504

CPS America / 855.584.7168 /

Part of the Shanghai-based Chint Group, an industrial electrical equipment producer, CPS America is a subsidiary of Chint Power Systems, a global inverter supplier for clean energy applications. Founded in Texas, CPS America has been building its inverter business since 2009. The company recently earned the number one market share position in the US for 3-phase string inverters. To support this growing business, CPS America is expanding its US operations. The company has tripled the size of its original location near Dallas, home to the US service operations, engineering center, analysis laboratory and field technicians. The expanded location now also supports inverter assembly and customer training. The company also has facilities in California, including a fulfillment center in Pomona, as well as a training and support center in Pleasanton. The company’s most popular US product line includes 50 kW and 60 kW 3-phase string inverters that provide reactive power support of 55 kVA and 66 kVA, respectively. The company recently announced that these products are compatible with Tigo’s flexible module-level power electronics for NEC 2017 rapid-shutdown compliance. To address the needs of large-scale ground-mount applications, CPS America offers UL-listed 100 kW and 125 kW 1,500 V 3-phase string inverters with a rated output of 600 Vac.

DYNAPOWER • Booth 4145

Dynapower / 877.215.0487 /

Since 1963, Vermont-based Dynapower has provided power electronics—such as rectifiers, frequency converters, custom transformers, dc converters and energy storage inverters—to Fortune 500 companies, small enterprises, research institutions and government agencies. The company specializes in designing and building power conversion equipment for challenging applications, including metal finishing, mining, battery formation, chemical production and magnetic silencing for Navy ships. For more than a decade, the Dynapower Energy Storage Group has supplied utility- and commercial-scale power conversion equipment for energy storage applications, such as microgrids, solar-plus-storage, frequency regulation, demand charge reduction and backup power. The company offers not only behind-the-meter and front-of-the-meter energy storage inverters, but also fully integrated energy storage systems complete with lithium-ion batteries. Most recently, Dynapower launched a partner program for traditional central inverter manufacturers that will allow OEM partners to include Dynapower’s parallelable 250 kW and 375 kW dc-to-dc converters in their utility-scale offerings.

ENPHASE ENERGY • Multiple booths

Enphase Energy / 877.797.4743 /

Headquartered in Petaluma, California, Enphase Energy provides software-driven home energy solutions for PV generation, energy storage, and web-based monitoring and control. Way back at SPI 2008, Enphase generated big buzz with the introduction of its first-generation microinverter platform. Since then the company has weathered the ups and downs of life on the solar coaster. Quickly garnering residential market leadership, Enphase completed an IPO in 2012 to become a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. At the time, the company accounted for more than 50% of the US residential market and 72% of the global microinverter market. Peaking in value in late 2014, the stock price fell throughout 2015 and remained low for the better part of 2 years, pressured by falling prices, international competition and eroding market share. Rumors of the company’s demise swirled, as many people wondered publicly and privately whether NASDAQ would delist it. In spite of the noise, Enphase continued to improve its microinverter line, develop new products and expand to new markets. Today, guided by a new CEO, the company is in the midst of a remarkable business turnaround. Since late 2017, its stock price has trended up, along with investor confidence. In early 2018, it released its seventh-generation microinverter. In August, the company completed the acquisition of SunPower’s microinverter business, eliminating one of its competitors while gaining a potential long-term customer. Enphase will not have its own booth at SPI. However, distribution and module partners, such as AEE Solar (Booth 3420) and LG Electronics (Booth 2638), will undoubtedly showcase Enphase’s latest products and innovations.


Esdec / 800.374.5551 /

Netherlands-based Esdec is one of the leading rooftop PV mounting companies in Europe, with more than 1.5 GW of systems deployed. Esdec is entering the US market with FlatFix, which features an innovative clickable design architecture for commercial flat roofs of different sizes and membrane materials, as well as a 20-year warranty and full UL certification. A company founded by installers, Esdec designed FlatFix for installers. The mounting system enables rapid assembly, providing commercial installers up to a 40% reduction in installation time compared to other systems on the market. Installers can push-fit the racking components into a locked position without the use of any tools. The rails click together easily and quickly to form an interconnected solid structure. Module installation requires only one tool and a minimum of parts, while optimizers attach easily via snap-on clips. Using self-leveling baseplates, FlatFix is available with both ballast and minimally attached hybrid options and can be deployed in either a traditional south-facing direction or a dual-tilt orientation. FlatFix Fusion’s materials and design compensate for thermal effects, reducing potential heat-induced degradation of the PV modules and protecting the integrity of the roof.

LONGI SOLAR • Booth 528

LONGi Solar /

Established in 2000 and headquartered in China, LONGi Solar has experienced rapid growth in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. The company expanded from 2 GW of monocrystalline silicon (mc-Si) wafer capacity at the end of 2014 to 15 GW at the close of 2017 and could reach 28 GW by December 2018. The company’s dizzying goal is to reach 45 GW wafer capacity by 2020. With a strong focus on research and development, LONGi Solar is pushing the limits not only in terms of growth, but also, more importantly, in terms of cell efficiency and module performance. The company’s warranty terms are among the best in the industry, with a 10-year equipment warranty and a 30-year, 84.95% output-power warranty, which assumes less than 2% linear power degradation in year 1 and a linear power degradation rate of -0.45% in subsequent years. LONGi Solar holds several performance records, including the world’s highest mono PERC module efficiency (20.41%). Its technology road map includes bifacial PERC modules, as well as more efficient bifacial mono PERC modules with half-cut cells.


Solar Roots: The Pioneers of PV /

The birth of the terrestrial solar industry was not televised. Instead, a small tribe of backwoods engineers, counterculture technophiles and hippie entrepreneurs pioneered it, far from the city lights and centers of political power. These early adopters, many of whom had a green thumb and an affinity for the Grateful Dead, co-opted and democratized cold war–era space race technology to literally bring power to the people. Realizing that these venerable PV pioneers would not be around forever, Jeff Spies and Jason Vetterli spent 2 years traveling the country and interviewing more than 50 of the men and women who championed solar and gave birth to the home-power movement in the early 1980s. The result is the entertaining and educational documentary film Solar Roots: The Pioneers of PV. Aided by solar historian John Perlin, the film breathes life into the chronology of solar electricity, from early scientific discoveries in the 1800s and the Bell Solar Battery in the 1950s to the role of solar in space and its early terrestrial deployments in the 1970s. More poignantly, the film celebrates the colorful trailblazers and intrepid homesteaders who planted and nurtured the seed of the modern solar industry, chronicling their empowering origin story. The filmmakers have posted a 10-minute extended trailer online and will host an advanced screening at the Anaheim Marriott in one of SPI’s conference rooms. This special screening is scheduled for 4:30pm–6:30pm on Wednesday, September 26.

SOLARBOS • Booth 1760

SolarBOS / 925.456.7744 /

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Livermore, California, SolarBOS provides a wide variety of electrical balance of system (eBOS) components for the solar industry, including source-circuit combiners, source-circuit wire bundles, disconnect enclosures, overmolded wire harnesses and ac combiners. To provide timely service, the company has more than 65,000 square feet of combined manufacturing space between Livermore and Grand Rapids, Michigan. As commercial- and utility-scale project developers’ needs evolve over time based on changing market conditions or new code requirements, SolarBOS responds with products that provide reliable and cost-effective eBOS solutions. At SPI, the company will showcase ac combiner and rack solutions for distributed string inverter clusters or central inverter topologies. It will feature a new line of utility combiners for large-scale ground-mounted systems designed to facilitate quick installation and hassle-free mounting while maintaining the convenience of a combiner box for operations and maintenance. SolarBOS will also display an innovative combiner with higher-current (45 A) inputs, which reduces eBOS costs on sites deployed using three-string rows, a practice common on single-axis tracker projects.

SOLTEC • Booth 1450

Soltec / 510.440.9200 /

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Molina de Segura, Spain, Soltec is a multinational solar tracker manufacturer with facilities in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and more than 750 employees worldwide. The company established its US operation in 2015 and recently appointed energy industry veteran Bill Overholt as general manager of its North American subsidiary. Soltec America is headquartered in Livermore, California, which serves as the base for its US sales, logistics and technical support. Soltec’s current-generation product line is the SF7 single-axis tracker, designed to provide the highest possible per-acre yield while withstanding extreme climates. The tracker integrates a proprietary fused wire harness that eliminates the need for combiner boxes and serves as a homerun trunk cable, conveniently routed inside the tracker torque tube. This product line includes the SF7 Bifacial, a single-axis tracker optimized for use with newer bifacial PERC modules. The SF7 Bifacial tracker design avoids backside shading by eliminating perpendicular rails and intentionally spreading the gap between modules at the torque tube location. The product is also fielded in a manner that increases diffuse irradiance capture on the backside of bifacial arrays, with double-wide service aisles and an elevated height profile. In July, Soltec America inaugurated the Bifacial Tracker Evaluation Center (BiTEC), also located in Livermore, where it will rigorously assess bifacial tracker performance in comparison to other PV applications, in partnership with bifacial module manufacturers, independent engineering firms and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


David Brearley / SolarPro / Ashland, OR /

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