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WINNER |  2023 Green Good Design Awards

Pvilion’s Solar Fabric Kits for Coldplay World Tour

Designers: Todd Dalland, Pvilion, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Client: Coldplay, United Kingdom


This product was designed and provided to Coldplay for their 2022 world tour. The product includes flexible, travel-friendly solar fabric panels and fully functional battery kits to help power key elements of each concert. Pvilion provided the band with 70, 10 ft x 3.5 ft clip-on solar fabric panels. 

These solar fabric products are lightweight, flexible, can be folded up, and are easy to travel with. At each stop that the tour makes, the fabric panels can quickly be set-up and attached to most surfaces that receive sunlight and are fully operational by showtime. 

The goal of the Coldplay: Music of The Spheres Tour is to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible, and diesel generators are incredibly harmful to the environment and those that work around them at concert venues. 

The addition of these solar fabric kits reduces the harmful fumes that would otherwise be emitted using diesel generators at each concert and is an essential component to the band’s sustainability efforts. 


About the Green Good Design Sustainability Awards:

“For 2023, Green GOOD DESIGN received hundreds of submissions from around the world. Members of The European Center’s International Advisory Committee—worldwide leaders in the design industry—served as the jury and selected over 180 new products, programs, people, environmental planning, and architecture as outstanding examples of Green Design.

The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design have joined forces on two continents to present an innovative and challenging new public program: GREEN GOOD DESIGN SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS.

GOOD DESIGN™ was founded in Chicago in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. to promote and foster a greater public understanding and acceptance for Modern Design.

Now in turn and in 2023, GREEN GOOD DESIGN‘s goal is to bestow international recognition to those outstanding individuals, companies, organizations, governments, and institutions – together with their products, services, programs, ideas, and concepts-that have forwarded exceptional thinking and inspired greater progress toward a more healthier and more sustainable universe.” (This is an excerpt from their website. Click here to read more on the original site.)

To view the award listing, click here.

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WINNER |  2023 Green Good Design Awards

Pvilion’s Community Garden Solar Pavilions for Community Gardens

Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Architects: Pvilion
Lead Architect: Todd Dalland
Client: WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of the architects


In collaboration with Nos Quedamos and its partners, Pvilion has designed and will soon build and install highly visible, south facing, free-standing, modular, self-sufficient solar pavilions in low shade areas of local community gardens, with rows of electrical outlets and USB outlets on countertops to charge cell phones, and other low voltage equipment. The electricity that powers the outlets will be harvested from sunlight by lightweight, flexible solar cells that are integrated into the fabric of the solar pavilions.

Educational solar dashboards will be built into the pavilions to provide information regarding how much power is currently available in the batteries, how much power is currently being generated by the solar panels and how much power is being drawn by the devices plugged in.

There will also be free, automatic wi-fi access. Routers will be built into the solar pavilions and powered by the solar energy harvested. Wi-fi access will be available on cell phones automatically with no password required.

The design also includes low-voltage LED lights powered by the solar energy harvested to be built into the solar pavilions, to provide lighting at night. There will also be decorative lighting available to make the fabric roofs glow like urban lanterns at night and change colors for different occasions. The solar pavilions will also feature sloped and guttered fabric roofs that will harvest rainwater, along with built-in spigots that will allow the water collected to be used for gardening to grow food and water the gardens. The rainwater will be stored in above grade tanks.

Overall, the solar pavilions will serve as shelter from the sun and rain for meetings, presentations, and performances. They are designed to be used as are multi-purpose outdoor rooms for community services, gallery shows, concerts, film screenings and other events.

Most importantly, the structures will be used as community resiliency hubs in the case of emergencies such as hurricanes, blackouts, and other disasters. Fabric walls will be added to provide additional weather protection. They will be anchored to the ground and can be relocated when need be.


About the Green Good Design Sustainability Awards:

“For 2023, Green GOOD DESIGN received hundreds of submissions from around the world. Members of The European Center’s International Advisory Committee—worldwide leaders in the design industry—served as the jury and selected over 180 new products, programs, people, environmental planning, and architecture as outstanding examples of Green Design.

The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design have joined forces on two continents to present an innovative and challenging new public program: GREEN GOOD DESIGN SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS.

GOOD DESIGN™ was founded in Chicago in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. to promote and foster a greater public understanding and acceptance for Modern Design.

Now in turn and in 2023, GREEN GOOD DESIGN‘s goal is to bestow international recognition to those outstanding individuals, companies, organizations, governments, and institutions – together with their products, services, programs, ideas, and concepts-that have forwarded exceptional thinking and inspired greater progress toward a more healthier and more sustainable universe.” (This is an excerpt from their website. Click here to read more on the original site.)

To view the award listing, click here.

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WINNER |  2023 Green Good Design Awards

Pvilion Clip-On Solar Powered Fabric

Designers: Todd Dalland, Pvilion, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Manufacturer: Anchor Industries Inc., Evansville, Indiana, USA


This project was designed and created by Pvilion with the intent to integrate solar power to event tents as an alternative to diesel generators. These solar fabric event tent clip-on attachment kits are made with Pvilion’s photovoltaic fabric, and are specifically designed to attach to the top of large event tents to incorporate the use of solar power. 

For those in the event industry that already own large event tents but want to implement solar power, Pvilion has created a clip-on attachment, made with photovoltaic fabric, specifically designed to attach to the top of large event tents. 

The use of these solar fabric attachment kits allows event tent users to have access to power anywhere that they are set up, without needing access to the local power grid. Not only does it allow for this independence, but it also reduces harmful fumes that would otherwise be emitted using diesel generators in these settings. 


About the Green Good Design Sustainability Awards:

“For 2023, Green GOOD DESIGN received hundreds of submissions from around the world. Members of The European Center’s International Advisory Committee—worldwide leaders in the design industry—served as the jury and selected over 180 new products, programs, people, environmental planning, and architecture as outstanding examples of Green Design.

The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design have joined forces on two continents to present an innovative and challenging new public program: GREEN GOOD DESIGN SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS.

GOOD DESIGN™ was founded in Chicago in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. to promote and foster a greater public understanding and acceptance for Modern Design.

Now in turn and in 2023, GREEN GOOD DESIGN‘s goal is to bestow international recognition to those outstanding individuals, companies, organizations, governments, and institutions – together with their products, services, programs, ideas, and concepts-that have forwarded exceptional thinking and inspired greater progress toward a more healthier and more sustainable universe.” (This is an excerpt from their website. Click here to read more on the original site.)

To view the award listing, click here.

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Progress on solar-powered fabrics

ATA’s Specialty Fabric Review Features | April 1, 2023 | By: Michelle Miron

Pvilion’s Heavy Duty Portable Solar Canopy, a 2022 IAA award-winner, is a PVC-coated polyester canopy integrated with solar panels that can effectively power equipment, lighting, cell phones, laptops and other gear. Photo: Pvilion

As a greener, increasingly high-tech world seeks ways to better optimize the power of the sun, textiles manufacturers are competing to be the first to offer solar-generating fabrics that combine efficient power conversion with flexibility, strength, ease of mass production and cost effectiveness.

While many effective solar fabrics are in use today, many scientists report that we’re still waiting for the advent of versions that have all the advantages needed for widespread consumer use. 

Some promising versions feature a self-assembling photovoltaic (PV) crystal known as perovskite that the U.S. Department of Energy reports can perform at up to 25% efficiency. Scientists believe perovskite-based films could be available within the next decade for use on marine, tent and awning canvases as well as conventional buildings. 

In promising news in December 2022, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the development of ultralight fabric solar cells that are thinner than a human hair yet durable and flexible enough to be glued to fabrics as power sources. At one-hundredth the weight of conventional solar panels, they’re reportedly able to generate 18 times more power per kilogram. And they’re produced with semiconducting inks via printing processes expected to be adaptable to large-scale manufacturing. 

Could the new cells be the answer to developing the powerhouse textiles that could virtually revolutionize the industrial fabric industry? Possibly, says Dr. Jack Martin, a professor in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. He’s cautiously optimistic, but over the past couple decades, he’s seen the emergence of several similar discoveries that eventually fell short in one or more of the key aspects needed for true commercial viability. 

“We have films of PV that can be applied to fabrics, but there are problems with dissimilar materials and adhesives,” Martin says. “What about PV within fabrics? Our preferred state would be a flexible PV—durable, long-lasting with high performance. That’s the golden dream.”

To home in on where the world stands in terms of solar fabric development, here is a progress report and survey of developments from a variety of companies devoted to solar-powered textiles. 

Heliatek’s organic photovoltaic solar film HeliaSol can be glued to multiple surfaces and is now marketed primarily for rooftops and facades. It is especially helpful for generating energy on urban buildings that might otherwise be hindered by weight or surface restrictions. Photo: Heliatek

The market is “almost infinite”

German firm Heliatek reports on its product HeliaSol, an organic photovoltaic solar film that can be glued to multiple surfaces and is now marketed primarily for rooftops and facades. Rather than the more conventional silicon, its semiconductors are based on carbon-based molecules. Its website reports that it’s ultralight, ultrathin, flexible, easy to install, temperature independent and “considerably greener than conventional silicon-based solar modules.” It’s manufactured in Dresden and has already been applied to 30-plus installations in that city.  

“These will help unlock solar potential in the urban environment, which cannot be realized today with conventional solar solutions because of weight or surface restrictions,” says head of marketing Stephan Kube. “Our films help transfer building surfaces into active clean energy generators, independent of the shape or surface material.”

Kube calls the potential market “almost infinite.”

Photo: Heliatek

“The key question for us is how fast are we able to provide enough solar films for demand? We are working hard to improve the efficiency and cost to make them even more attractive.”

He expects Heliatek films to eventually be optimized for non-building surfaces. 

“Not every fabric of course can generate solar electricity, but we can easily glue our films to existing surfaces and therefore functionalize them,” he adds.  

Award-winning achievements

A forerunner in incorporating photovoltaic fabric technology into canopies, military tents, sails, grid-tied long-span structures, charging stations, curtains, building facades, backpacks and clothing, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Pvilion won two Advanced Textiles Association 2022 International Achievement Awards (IAA) for its development of solar fabric shelters. One recognized Pvilion’s portable, weather-hardy canopy that effectively self-powers equipment, lighting, cell phones, laptops and other gear; the second honored its Hands-Off Expeditionary Tent, which deploys with exceptional speed. Its manufacturing processes call for laminating silicon solar cells onto fabric or integrating them in. 

Pvilion’s 2022 IAA Award-winning Hands-Off Expeditionary Tent offers shelter, power, climate control and flexibility for military and security applications. Its manufacturing processes call for laminating silicon solar cells onto fabric or integrating them in. Photo: Pvilion

Solar-powered tent 

Evansville, Ind.-based Anchor Industries Inc. partnered with Pvilion last year to introduce a solar-powered tent promoted as lightweight, flexible, easy to install, durable and energy efficient.

Buildings get second skins with textiles

ASCA in France and Germany is manufacturing Suntex, a durable, water-resistant photovoltaic film built by putting recycled polymer yarns through a proprietary laser, printing and lamination process. It reportedly can activate any surface to be solar-powered, regardless of shape or base material. Among its advantages: it’s flexible, lightweight, heat and water resistant and reusable; has a service life of up to 20 years; can be colored and/or patterned; and can be powered indoors. Uses include tents, awnings, curtains, pool covers and building facades. 

In 2022, Anchor Industries partnered with Pvilion to release a new solar-powered tent built of fabric it touts as lightweight, flexible, easy to install, durable and energy efficient. “Adding solar capabilities to event tents, thereby removing the need for diesel generators, will change the industry forever,” predicts Pvilion CEO Colin Touhey. Photo: Anchor Industries

Electro-Yarn

New York-based Marubeni America Corp. makes Electro-Yarn, a solar-powered, heat-generating product made of polyester multifilament coated with carbon nanotubes. Solar energy is gathered via woven-in Sphelar® solar cells.  

Thin, lightweight and flexible 

At French startup Solar Cloth, sales representative William Borderie reports on the advent of  CIGS-cell solar panels (built with copper, indium, gallium and selenium) that have a near 18% efficiency—close to that of silicon panels. The thin, ultra-flexible, lightweight panels can be tailor-made to affix (just like fabric) to vehicles, buildings, tunnels, tents, boats and other objects, using glue, sewing, welding or other means. Advertised as unbreakable and resistant to microcracks, shock and shadow, they can be rolled up for transport and generate power for upward of 20 years. Solar Cloth panels can be fixed on fabric or light structures without risks of cracks/microcracks or the need for an air gap to cool down the panels.

The firm just invested close to $1 million in a factory expansion so that it can launch wide-scale production near Cannes this year.  

“We spent many years in R&D to find the right materials and the right way to create such panels,” says Borderie. “The price will remain higher than regular silicon panels, but it’s not a direct competitor; it’s an alternative when regular panels are not a viable option.” 

Solar Cloth’s international client roster already includes the French Army, Renault/Volvo, Huttopia and Richel/Toutabri. Borderie expects more applications this year on storage tunnels, greenhouses and “light” buildings constructed of metal
and textiles. 

“Demand is growing fast, as the price of energy is not stable,” he explains. “And many customers are willing to have a source of energy with low carbon emissions.”

Borderie predicts the start of widespread use of solar-powered
cars by 2030, closely followed by trucks, boats, tents and all buildings—including those that can’t use regular solar panels. 

Thin, ultra-flexible panels made by Solar Cloth adhere like fabric to vehicles, buildings, tunnels, tents, boats and other objects. They’re virtually unbreakable and roll up for easy transport. Photo: Solar Cloth

Other energy-producing fabrics to watch

• Baltimore, Md.-based Materic produces the electrospun nanofiber PiezoYarn™ that behaves like nylon yarn but generates a small, non-storable electric output when stretched or twisted. It can be woven or knitted on standard industrial equipment and can provide health and/or athletic data for wearers. Business manager Colin Harmer says corporate interest may make PiezoYarn commercially viable over the next several years. 

“What hasn’t been explored is that this can be used to detect vibrations, so if there’s a high enough frequency, there could be
an outlook in power generation,” he adds. 

• Pacific Palisades, Calif.-based Hologenix LLC has created CELLIANT®, a blend of natural minerals embedded into recycled polyester, nature-based viscose and other carriers that transforms the wearer’s body heat into immediate full-spectrum infrared energy. Research shows that energy can promote local circulation and cell oxygenation, regulate body temperature and improve recovery from physical activity. 

Hologenix’s infrared energy-producing textile called CELLIANT® is made by embedding natural minerals into carriers, including polyester and viscose. It can help transform the wearer’s body heat into energy that promotes local circulation and cell oxygenation. Photo: Hologenix LLC

Target markets, according to CEO Seth Casden, include those seeking better sleep, athletes or anyone with daily physical demands who stands to benefit from improved blood flow and faster recovery. The 20-year-old company has published 10 studies in its quest to validate CELLIANT technology and its benefits. Major brand partnerships include Under Armour, Sunlighten Saunas, Bear Mattress and Medline’s CURAD, with hundreds of different products across dozens of brand partners and different categories.

• Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Nextiles sews flexible circuitry into fabrics that can measure biometric and biomechanics data such as direction, speed, distance, force, bending, stretching, velocity and/or pressure. 

• Pinole, Calif.-based Eeonyx Corp. creates fabrics that generate warmth via “resistive heating” that work surface-wide without wires or circuitry. It’s also working on thin films that create heat after being printed or applied to surfaces. 

• Gastonia, N.C.-based Burlan Manufacturing makes woven fabrics that incorporate electric conductivity into its structures. 

Michelle Miron is a freelance writer based in Hugo, Minn.


SIDEBAR: The race to viability

As a consultant to multiple U.S. organizations striving to produce better solar fabrics, Dr. Jack Martin, a professor in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., says many are competing to be the first to release commercially viable versions. For example, he’s now working with several firms to develop thin solar films that can generate power after being painted onto products. 

Eventually, he says, power-generating cells will be built right into the fibers of clothing and other textiles and will power themselves using both indoor and outdoor light. 

“A tarp type of material to cover structures with a film, or woven fabric of silicon fiber thread, opens countless opportunities for application,” he says, pointing to key products like rainflys, awnings, sails or even wings.

Other promising areas of PV study, he says, include the nano glass fibers now used for communications infrastructure. Because such fibers can be tied into knots without breaking, they could be successfully incorporated into fabric. 

He also believes biotechnology can be used to create solarized surfaces that mimic cells, skin and furs. Someday, he predicts, solar power may be so readily available that students, employees and others will be expected to generate their own portable power to use on location. 

“It’s time to think beyond two dimensions,” Martin says. “The future is fabulous. A new field awaits.”


SIDEBAR: Optimization challenges

Efficiency: This refers to the percent of sunlight energy that can be converted via photovoltaics into electricity. Traditionally, silicon-based solar cells have been the most efficient at up to 31%, but they’re rigid, fragile and are considered expensive. Organic polymer-based cells are more flexible
but thus far less efficient. 

Flexibility: Traditional photovoltaic panels are made of glass or other rigid materials. Scientists seek alternatives that can bend without breaking and compromising their ability to harvest energy. 

Space: The smaller the item, the greater the difficulty in efficiently incorporating the necessary solar components. 

Aesthetics: The batteries used to store solar power can be too cumbersome for smaller-sized products.

Expense: The logistics can be complex and prohibitively pricey. “To transfer an R&D concept into a mass-market product in the high-technology environment is a fundamental challenge, which requires expertise, resources and time,” says Stephan Kube, Heliatek. 

Battery storage: Manufacturers need solar batteries that are flexible, rechargeable, unobtrusive and affordable enough for mass-market use.

To visit the original article, click here.

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What is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) And How Does It Work?

Pvilion Blog |  March 24, 2023 | By Julia Fowler

About the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) originated from the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Although it was originally set to end in 2007, its success in promoting the shift to renewable energy in the United States led to many extensions over the past several years.

Most recently, the Inflation Reduction Act was signed by President Biden in August of 2022, extending the ITC for the next ten years. This means that businesses can continue to benefit from a 30 percent tax credit until 2032. The tax credit will remain available at 26 percent in 2033 and 22 percent in 2034.

According to a statement released by the White House regarding the enactment of The Inflation Reduction Act, it is believed that 950 million solar panels are expected to be in operation in the United States by the year 2030. The effects of this, paired with other clean energy initiatives in the bill, should “reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons,” according to the release

How the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit Work

The ITC applies to both commercial and residential solar investments. Users must own the entire solar energy system to be eligible for the tax credit. Although the ITC is not refundable, the remaining credit can be applied the following years for as long as the ITC remains in effect if the tax credit value is greater than the user’s tax liability at the time of purchase.

How Do Tax Credits Work?

Tax credits are tax incentives that allow for reduction in the taxes that companies and individuals owe to the federal government. This means 30 percent of the amount invested in a solar product can be subtracted from owed taxes.

Additional Information

There is an exception for organizations that do not pay federal taxes (i.e. local government, nonprofits, etc.). Certain tax-exempt organizations may be allowed to receive a refund from the IRS for applicable solar projects. Pvilion will help you receive this credit, and can offer leasing and financing options as well.

The solar ITC should be claimed when filing annual federal tax returns. If you or your business have an accountant that files for you, it’s important to inform them about the purchase of any solar products so that they may help you file accordingly.

How Does this Apply to Pvilion Products?

Pvilion provides turnkey solar products that are eligible for a 30 percent Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). That means that the 30 percent ITC  applies to nearly 100 percent of your Pvilion solar product order. This includes the cost of the entire structure and energy storage system, as well as all labor and permitting for installation, all hardware and equipment, and applicable sales tax.

This Entire System + Cost of Installation Qualifies for the ITC

For example, a $25,000 Pvilion Solar Sail installation will get you a $7,500 ITC, which is a one-to-one tax credit. Therefore the installation will only end up costing you $17,500! That’s before any state and local incentives too.

If you don’t have a tax bill (startup company, non-profit, municipality), don’t worry. We offer leasing and financing options for our products that will allow that tax credit to be passed through to you.

Disclaimer: This post was prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial or tax advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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New Rules, Incentives Shaping Solar-Plus-Storage Market

POWER Magazine |  Feb. 1, 2023 | By Darrell Proctor 

An evolving regulatory environment, expanded tax credits, and moves for more reliability and resilience in the power space are impacting the growth of solar-plus-storage installations.

Several state utility commissions in recent years have reduced the export rate for net energy metering (NEM), meaning consumers utilizing solar power are seeing less value for the solar energy they would return to the power grid. These measures, such as one recently passed in California and taking effect in April, have sparked plenty of debate in the solar power community. Detractors say it makes residential solar less attractive, taking away a financial incentive for installation. Proponents say it incentivizes the use of energy storage attached to solar power, and over time will prove advantageous for more solar power adoption.

Critics of plans to reduce export rates say such moves benefit utilities at the expense of homeowners, and are likely to slow growth in residential solar by making rooftop arrays more expensive. Others see the measures as a way to jump-start the nascent residential solar-plus-storage market, providing opportunities for solar installers to pair systems with batteries, reducing costs over time. Most everyone agrees, though, that tax credits and other features in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed by President Biden last year provide important support for both the solar and storage industries.

Supporters of energy storage point to benefits already being recognized as solar developers and utilities add batteries to large, utility-scale solar arrays, to provide more resilience and help balance the grid. The next step, according to many in the industry, is growing residential storage, which will provide other benefits including supporting growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

Germany provides an example. Changes to NEM rules there a decade ago set off consistent growth in solar paired with storage, which recently has experienced even faster growth. EUPD Research, a Germany-based international data-based market research and consulting group, in a recent report said about 220,000 new residential storage systems were connected to rooftop solar in Germany in 2022.

“Consumers around the world are seeking residential solar solutions that provide energy independence and security in the face of rising electricity prices and massive grid disruptions driven by extreme weather,” said Raghu Belur, co-founder and Chief Products Officer for Enphase Energy, a California-based energy technology company. “In fact, residential solar deployments are forecast to grow over 35% in the next four years while residential battery storage is expected to grow over three-fold by 2026, according to recent reports by Wood Mackenzie and SEIA [the Solar Energy Industries Association], and ESA [the Energy Storage Association], respectively.”

Belur told POWER, “Solar-plus-battery storage technology is well-positioned to adapt to an increasingly electrified future by seamlessly integrating with EVs, heat pumps, and other connected home appliances, making it easier than ever for consumers to manage their household energy bills and take control of their own energy future.”

“The trend of rising energy costs and a need for greater energy resilience in the face of increasingly frequent grid outages and emergency shut-offs has driven surging interest in behind-the-meter PV-plus-storage systems, especially in Europe,” said Levent Gun, CEO of Ampt, a solar and storage company working to lower costs and increase optimization of PV systems. “Among the numerous factors driving the growth of solar-plus-storage in the U.S. and around the world are improving economics, policy support, and the simple fact that a renewables-dominated grid requires abundant storage to remain stabilized and resilient.”

Integrating Renewable Energy

Other experts who spoke with POWER agreed with Gun that upgrades to power delivery infrastructure need to include energy storage, particularly when it comes to integrating solar and other renewable energy to the grid.

“Storage is absolutely critical to the advancement and modernization of the grid. Renewable projects simply cannot support the grid in a meaningful way without storage,” said Julie Steury, vice president of Programs & Customer Ops with Stem, a California-based group using artificial intelligence to help manage energy assets. “Increased energy demands, unstable energy sources and costs, and unreliable access from increasing weather incidents happen outside of solar generation. Intelligent storage and renewable asset management with advanced software solutions will enable businesses and utilities to effectively capture that clean energy, store it properly, and know when to discharge that energy for the best results.”

Mary Powell, CEO of Sunrun, a California-based provider of solar and storage products, told POWER: “The overall duration of power interruptions in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2015, and with natural disasters also on the rise, blackouts are inevitable. This leaves utilities challenged with adapting current energy systems to these worsening conditions. In 2023, we will see a growing momentum across the country to incorporate home solar and battery capacity as regulators look to provide greater resilience to the electric grid.”

“As utilities continue to get more comfortable with energy storage on their systems, we are seeing an expansion of acceptable applications,” said Mike Toomey, director of storage development at Redeux Energy, a clean energy project developer. “Storage is now being considered an option to mitigate transmission and distribution upgrades. As that trend evolves, we may even see scenarios where solar is co-located with storage transmission assets to avoid the need to charge from the grid under more extreme constraint scenarios.”

Marija Vujacic, PhD, product manager for Battery Energy Storage Systems with Hitachi Energy, told POWER that “storage adds a fundamental value in balancing the variability of solar generation while at the same time enabling higher consumption of a self-generated renewable power. It enables bidirectional active power exchange with the grid, which enables storage to provide a wide range of applications that cannot be provided by solar-only systems such as stabilizing and operating isolated renewable-driven power systems.”

Utility-Scale Projects

Recent utility-scale solar-plus-storage projects include the Darien Solar Energy Center in Wisconsin. The state’s Public Service Commission recently approved Madison Gas and Electric Co.’s (MGE’s) request to buy solar energy and battery storage capacity from the $478 million facility, which includes 250 MW of solar and 75 MW of battery storage. Madison Gas will own 25 MW of solar energy and 7.5 MW of battery storage from the Invenergy-developed project.

“The Darien Solar Energy Center is another important step in our ongoing transition to cleaner energy sources, reducing carbon at least 80% by the end of this decade and achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050,” said Jeff Keebler, chairman, president, and CEO of MGE. The rest of Darien’s solar and storage is expected to be owned by WEC Energy Group subsidiaries We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service. The Darien site is expected to enter commercial operation by year-end 2024.

1. This is a rendering of the 690-MW Gemini solar and storage project being built near Las Vegas, Nevada. Courtesy: IHI Terrasun Solutions

“The pace of storage integration into solar projects is accelerating as utilities and independent system operators (ISOs) realize the need and benefit of having co-location of solar and storage facilities,” said Ray Saka, vice president of Sales and Service for IHI Terrasun Solutions, the system integrator and service provider for the 690-MW Gemini solar and storage project (Figure 1) being built near Las Vegas, Nevada. “We’ve also noticed an uptick in the adoption of DC-coupled solar plus storage versus its AC-coupled alternative or standalone projects.” (Editor’s note: Get more insight from IHI Terrasun in this POWER Interview with company president Jamal Burki.)

Saka told POWER, though, that “with the IRA incentive for standalone storage systems, we may see more development of standalone systems that can now claim the tax credit, along with potential for more advantageous siting that is not tied to the expanse needed for solar projects.”

On a smaller scale, microgrid developers increasingly are including storage, along with solar and other technologies, in installations designed for off-grid and backup power sites, especially as power reliability becomes more of an issue.

“As a company mostly focusing on off-grid and hybrid applications, we are seeing much more of a demand in the resilience and emergency response space,” said Colin Touhey, CEO of Pvilion, a New York-based solar equipment developer and manufacturer. “The resiliency world is a very big market. There is a strong desire to be completely independent from the grid, or have the ability to disconnect and run independent microgrids.”

Touhey told POWER his company is seeing “demand for storage in grid-tied applications in more than 50% of our new projects. Four or five years ago, that demand was about 10%. The solar energy produced can be fed into the grid as needed to maximize revenues. In the off-grid applications that Pvilion builds [which include communications; command centers; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; and radar systems], this is critical, since the demand varies throughout the day. The energy storage system acts as a buffer between the supply of power [solar] and the demand [load].”

PPAs Support Projects

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) continue to drive solar-plus-storage deployments. National Grid Renewables recently announced the start of commercial operation at its Noble Solar and Storage Project (Figure 2) in Denton County, Texas. The installation is a 275-MW solar and 125-MWh energy storage facility, which Blake Nixon, president of National Grid Renewables, said is the group’s “first utility-scale energy storage project, as well as our largest solar energy project to date.”

2. The Noble Solar and Storage installation in Texas includes 275 MW of solar power capacity along with 125 MWh of energy storage. Courtesy: National Grid Renewables

The Home Depot and NRG Energy have each executed individual 100-MW solar PPAs with the Noble project, and The Hershey Company has contracted on a 50-MW solar PPA. The project utilizes Fluence Energy’s sixth-generation Gridstack product for energy storage.

Steury noted the importance of PPAs to project deployments. “Total commercial solar installations are expected to double again over the next three years with nearly 27 GW of off-site projects with corporate off-takers scheduled to come online by 2025. We’ve already seen companies across every industry establishing ESG [environmental, social, and governance], and net-zero goals, and showing clear progress with solar-plus-storage pilots. Now, with [the] IRA unlocking critical incentives and removing some of the historical risks, we’ll see broader adoption of solar-plus-storage assets beyond the bigger brands and early adopters.”

“With the extension of tax credits for solar, we expect to see more deployments in the distributed space,” said Toomey. “As market rates dictate, solar will create a mini ‘duck curve’ for the individual system owner, adding justification to add storage to mitigate the demand charges that are now a shorter, more predictable period in the day.”

Toomey told POWER, “The largest savings by co-locating storage with a solar farm comes in the form of shared development and equipment costs. A standalone storage project would need to go through separate permitting, interconnection filings, and in many cases a costly transformer. By incorporating with solar, the cost of storage is reduced to land, which is largely de minimis compared to the land requirements of solar, and the equipment costs up to and including medium voltage.”

Policy Supports U.S. Manufacturing, Installations

Growth in solar-plus-storage also is being driven by incentives in the IRA, which support U.S. manufacturing of solar and storage equipment, along with new projects.

“The proliferation of new solar-plus projects in the interconnection queues due to favorable economics—solar-plus-storage is a cost-effective solution based on the cost of materials—and the IRA act is encouraging new solar projects through the next two or three decades,” said Kevin Kohlstedt, director of Business Development at Energy Shares, a group that provides investors direct access to U.S. renewable energy development projects. “Solar panel manufacturing and battery manufacturing is coming back to the U.S. Thanks to the IRA, the production tax credits plus the huge demand from U.S. projects is driving U.S. manufacturing.”

3. This is a conceptual rendering of a Microvast smart grid renewable energy system. Courtesy: Microvast

Microvast, a Texas-headquartered group with operations in the UK, Germany, and China, along with the U.S., in December said it would supply its BESS ME-4300 container solution (Figure 3) for a 1.2-GWh battery energy storage project co-located with a solar installation. The exact location was not disclosed. The company said its battery cells manufactured at its factory in Clarksville, Tennessee, are expected to qualify for incentives under the IRA. The company also in late December announced the opening of a Technology and Testing Center in Timnath, Colorado, near Fort Collins, as part of its expansion.

“The customer response to our recently launched ME-4300 solution has been extremely promising and we are excited to be selected as a key supplier for one of the largest energy storage projects in the United States,” said Zach Ward, president of Microvast Energy. “This project will help position Microvast as a leader in the utility-scale energy storage market while reducing carbon emissions and assisting the local utility in meeting its growing electricity needs.”

DSD Renewables (DSD) and Black Bear Energy late last year announced they had begun installation of onsite rooftop solar systems, totaling 554 kW, at two Signature Center office buildings in Pleasanton, California. The systems will include energy storage.

“It has been great to work with trusted partners and see the teams come together on the first two rooftop solar systems that exemplify a commitment towards a cleaner future,” said Jason Chiang, senior director of Commercial Origination at DSD. “With long-term savings in mind, the solar systems paired with battery storage will help stabilize energy costs over the next 20 years.” The projects will be built and owned by DSD Renewables, and facilitated by Black Bear Energy. They are the first in a series of four office campuses that will include rooftop solar, carport solar, and energy storage. The projects when complete will total about 3 MW of solar and 3.8 MWh of battery storage.

Maxine Ghavi, senior vice president, Head of Grid Edge Solutions for Hitachi Energy, said power structures based on demand charges and time-of-use rates will help drive the solar-plus-storage market. Ghavi in a recent POWER Interview  noted, “Solar-plus-storage has been recognized as one of the key solutions towards ensuring more affordable, secure, and sustainable energy.”

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

To view this article from the original source, click here.

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Coming Soon for Homeowners: Solar Panels That Actually Look Attractive

Wall Street Journal |  Nov. 13, 2022 | By Jackie Snow

PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER FENIMORE

Solar panels can make homes a lot greener. But they can also make them look a lot less attractive.

In one survey conducted by the environmental-news publisher EcoWatch, a big reason homeowners didn’t install solar panels—second only to cost—was that they didn’t like how they looked.

Now researchers and private companies are working on new designs that could change the look of residential solar—and lure more people into trying the technology. They are testing everything from solar cells so thin they can be spread like paint, to panels integrated into fabric to be used as awnings or tents, to ones that come in different and more pleasing colors.

“We need more people to embrace solar,” says Sheila Kennedy, a practicing architect and professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We have to make it a joyful, everyday part of domestic life, and that will require design. It isn’t just a technical problem.”

At the end of 2020, there were approximately 2.7 million homes with standard silicon photovoltaic systems in the U.S., according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

And the technology might look more attractive to homeowners these days, with the recent climate bill extending an existing federal tax credit for expenditures on residential solar through 2032, on top of incentives offered by many states.

Here are some ways new solar designs could expand the options people have to add renewable energy at home.

Thin and flexible tech

The most common residential building systems use blue or black panels made of silicon solar cells—which are bulky and rigid, energy-intensive to make and subject to supply-chain shortages.

Now solar researchers are exploring new materials that promise to create solar panels as thin as a few nanometers—and make them much more aesthetically pleasing.

One of the most promising thin-film technologies involves perovskites, minerals with a crystal structure that can be spread as thin as half a micron, which is smaller than some bacteria. This thinness would allow perovskite-based solar cells to be made flexible or even sprayed on like paint one day.

The concept works exceedingly well at turning the sun into power. Perovskite technology is only a couple of decades old and already has an efficiency of 25.7%—the amount of sunlight that gets turned into power—in testing settings, according to the NREL. Meanwhile, silicon, which researchers have worked on for over 40 years, tops out at 26.7%. Given current research, a 33% efficiency rate for perovskites is possible in the next few years, according to Bin Chen, a professor in chemistry at Northwestern University.

A few companies are also developing silicon panels with perovskite layers—mostly for commercial uses—which take advantage of current manufacturing processes and look much like existing photovoltaic solar panels.

Getting the perovskites into a flexible material or use as a paint requires new manufacturing processes and is still in the research phase. But these technologies have the possibility of being very cheap to produce and more environmentally friendly, and many companies are working on commercializing perovskites, which could drive costs down, according to Dr. Chen.

In the future, solar-power generation could be built right into buildings, via solar cells that are integrated into skylights, cladding, balcony railings, pergolas and shading systems. David T. Moore, a staff scientist at NREL, says perovskites might also help make solar windows—glass windows that can convert sunlight to electricity—more popular. The way solar windows are manufactured currently leaves them with a tint, he says. For some installations, that is fine, but perovskites could go on thin and transparent, mimicking nonsolar windows more closely.

Research is being conducted into a number of other thin-film technologies, including tiny semiconductors called quantum dots and methods involving organic materials, but because of their lower efficiency, these solar technologies haven’t had gotten the same attention as perovskites. And, ultimately, perovskites will need to overcome a big hurdle of their own: Today’s photovoltaic technology has a long history of performance out in the real world.

“That’s a big challenge for commercialization,” Dr. Moore says. “Do people want to take a risk on something that may not actually last?”

Solar roofs

The building-integrated technology that has taken off the most is solar shingles, which are made to resemble traditional shingles and blend into the roof.

Tesla started selling solar roofs made of these shingles in the U.S. in 2017, with other companies recently joining in with various options, from flat black tiles to a terracotta look.

Creating a solar-shingle roof is generally more expensive than adding solar panels, mainly because the installation is more complex, with costs for each house varying depending on factors including the roof shape, obstructions such as skylights, and the brand of shingle.

Peter Hakenberg, managing director of paXos Consulting & Engineering, a German solar-shingle maker, says that roofs with the company’s solar shingles can cost double the price of a regular roof and run 20% more than getting typical photovoltaic panels installed on a regular roof. So, solar shingles might make more sense for people who are replacing a roof or building a new house, Mr. Hakenberg says.

While most clients want to do the right thing and use renewable energy, he adds, the choice often comes down to aesthetics.

“They do not want to make their homes ugly,” he says. “It is as simple as that.”

Solar fabric

A Pvilion solar sail with solar cells in the fabric.PHOTO: PVILION

While solar panels usually get installed on permanent, rigid structures, they can also be built into fabrics for structures like trellises, awnings and carports—making them a lot less obtrusive.

“Anything that’s fabric is an opportunity to generate electricity,” says Colin Touhey, co-founder and CEO of Pvilion, a Brooklyn, N.Y., company that manufactures flexible PV solar structures.

Pvilion’s products use typical silicon solar cells, but laminate them and integrate them into fabric. The composite material is more resilient than most solar panels, Mr. Touhey says, and it can deliver similar efficiency.

To read the original article, click here.

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Solar Textiles: The Flexible Solution for Solar Power

Textile Institute Professional Publications Series | November 21, 2022 | By Robert Mather, John Wilson

Featured on the cover, the authors discuss Pvilion’s PV fabric technology and products throughout the book.

Book Description

Most photovoltaic (PV) installations utilise heavy conventional glass or polycarbonate panels, and even newly developed thin plastic or metal films for PV cell use may fracture during both construction and application. Textile fabrics, the most widespread flexible materials in everyday use, offer a solution to the need for lightweight, flexible solar PV generators. Solar Textiles: The Flexible Solution for Solar Power is about the incorporation and operation of solar cells on textile fabrics. The combination of textile manufacturing and solar PV cell technology opens up further avenues for both the textile and semiconductor industries. Thus, this book reflects the progressively increasing commercial interest in PV cell technology and the versatility that their integration in textiles provides.

  • Discusses textiles as electrical substrates
  • Explains the photovoltaic effect and associated parameters
  • Offers special consideration of solar cells on textiles
  • Compares fibres and fabrics and how to implement PV activity on a textile
  • Describes manufacturing methods outside of semiconductor technology
  • Includes applications open only to textiles

This work is aimed at textile technologists, electronic engineers, solar technologists, civil engineers and designers in building fabrics and architecture.

To purchase a copy, click here.

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The Architecture MasterPrize Award 2022 – “Best of Best” Winner in Sustainable Products

Solar Powered Emergency Relief Tent

The Architectural Products Design Awards recognizes and awards the greatest architectural product designers and manufacturers. It seeks to celebrate the ingenuity of products and materials that make great architecture possible, and shine a light on those who create well-made, functional, long lasting, sustainable, beautiful and innovative products.

  • Lead Designer: Todd Dalland
  • Company/Studio: Pvilion
  • Team Members: Colin Touhey, Robert Lerner
  • Client: Florida Power and Light

This product conveniently aligns shelter, solar, and energy storage to offer a fully off-grid system that can function in almost any setting. The fabric featured on this structure is Pvilion’s signature solar cell integrated fabric, meaning that these tents can generate power for emergency response, disaster relief, lighting, environmental controls, and electrical devices, fully independent from the grid. Its convenient design allows for easy set-up, transport, and function. The lightweight tent offers 200 square feet of usable space and can be fully erected in 20 minutes.

Click here to view the award on the MasterPrize website.

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Innovation demonstration

15th Wing |  Oct. 26, 2022 | By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii —  
Airmen from the 15th Wing innovation cell, Aloha Spark, host an innovation demonstration, highlighting emerging technologies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
 
The demonstration allowed leaders to see a real-time application in cross-capability technologies such as the portable operations network integrator and the solar powered expeditionary tent system. 

“The 15th Wing and AFWERX (a Technology Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)  leadership understand and emphasize the importance of working quickly in the Indo-Pacific theatre. Our accelerate change or lose model gives us a forward-edge approach by combining capabilities and teaming innovative technology with warfighters,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Bryan Anderson, 15th Wing innovation chief.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Bryan Anderson, 15th Wing Innovation Chief, shares insights about the Solar Powered Expeditionary Tent System with Col. Michele Lo Bianco, 15th Wing commander during an innovation demonstration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Oct. 18, 2022. Anderson leads the 15th Wing innovation cell named Aloha Spark. Aloha Spark’s mission is to significantly increase military effectiveness through agile practices, technology and partnerships while honing in on the agile combat employment framework . (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Aloha Spark’s construct enables the innovation cell to be a pathway for collaboration and integration between the warfighter and the AFWERX network.

“When we look at the innovation ecosystem, often the technologies we need already exist. Aloha Spark saw a variety of technological solutions that we could integrate with for real-world operations,” Anderson said. 

The demonstration showed technological solutions for the warfighter but further revealed the adaptability of multi-capable Airmen and their ability to bring agile combat employment principles to the frontline. 

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conduct training on a portable operations network integrator during an innovation demonstration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Oct. 18, 2022. These Airmen are expanding their knowledge, skills and abilities to better engage in the agile combat employment framework required for multi-capable Airmen and foster ready forces to combatant commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Airmen from the 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron received training from the Naval Information Warfare Center on the PONi system as part of the demonstration. These Airmen consist of several Air Force specialty codes that include; flying crew chiefs, crew chiefs, hydraulic systems specialists, maintenance production, and aircraft electrical and environmental systems specialists. 

“The PONi rapidly increases our range with inbound and outbound aircraft. The communication capabilities are not just radio but 5G internet capabilities, communication with aircraft and electronic devices,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Scott, 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Glover, 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, installs the omni-directional antenna on the portable operations network integrator during an innovation demonstration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Oct. 18, 2022. Glover and other Airmen are demonstrating the advances in the multi-capable Airmen concept. MCA is an initiative where a small group of Airmen are trained to accomplish tasks outside their  Air Force specialty. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

Scott added that receiving the training on the PONi system gives MCA’s the confidence needed to implement new capabilities while decreasing their footprint in an austere environment.
 
The SPETS system was also demonstrated. It provides the versatility needed for multipurpose usage in various environments. According to the Air Force Rapid Global Mobility office, SPETS has the ability to retrofit to meet the needs of commanders and contingencies such as personnel lodging, command center, storage facility, medical staging area, and more in various locations.

“SPETS and PONi allow MCA’s to disperse and set up a resilient and mobile command center that will give commanders quicker access to information and communication efforts while in various locations to meet the need for the future fight,” Lt. Col. Karman Khalidi, 15th Maintenance Group deputy commander.

Aloha Spark, 15th Wing innovation cell, host an innovation demonstration, highlighting emerging technologies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Oct. 18, 2022. The Solar Powered Expeditionary Tent System properly aligns solar, energy storage, cooling and heating for a fully off grid expeditionary system.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

The MCA concepts focus on teaching skill sets outside of one’s respective career field. For Staff Sgt. Dan Kosty, 15th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, this demonstration offered an opportunity to incorporate 3D printing skills acquired while assigned to Aloha Spark and show practical cross-utilization inside the SPETS. 
   
“Having the capability to generate our energy with SPETS away from a main operating base gives us the advantage. A system like this, tethered with current technologies such as 3-D printing will allow Airmen to produce specialized applicable and agile tools for any airframe and weapons system within our forward operating region,” said Kosty. 

The U.S. Air Force defines agile combat employment as a way of operating that relies less on large traditional main overseas bases as hubs for projecting combat power and more on launching, recovering, and maintaining aircraft from dispersed forwarded operating locations in concert with allies and partners. 

Airmen from the 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and civilian partners from the Under Secretary of Defense for research and engineering office demonstrate the portable operations network integrator at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Oct. 18, 2022.  These Airmen are expanding their knowledge, skills and abilities to better engage in the agile combat employment framework required for multi-capable Airmen to foster ready forces for combatant commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.)

 “Demonstrations like these are great conversation starters that allow us to ask the question; how might we strengthen ACE capabilities locally?” Anderson said. “The demonstration also validated the need to further implement our multi-capable Airmen into strategies that allow us to continue ensuring our ability to maintain peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific.”

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