Articles by: Charles W. Thurston

You down with VPPs? How the virtual power plant movement is going so far

You down with VPPs? How the virtual power plant movement is going so far

March 5, 2021 at 10:07 am 0 comments

As has been the case with many good science fiction inventions of the last century, we are finally getting around to building virtual power plants (VPPs), or a software-and-wire linked network of small residential and commercial electricity generators, that together resemble a multimillion-dollar utility power plant. While the wires linkingRead More

Boosts and boasts: The latest data on solar tracker + bifacial PV module production yields

Boosts and boasts: The latest data on solar tracker + bifacial PV module production yields

January 18, 2021 at 10:18 am 0 comments

Improving the electricity yield in photovoltaic solar energy long has been a game of incremental additions of new technology. Over the past few years, bifacial panel adoption has been tested at a utility scale, and designs have been refined to the point that a high single-digit gain from a single-axis trackerRead More

Solar + Whatever: How to provide home energy resilience (and keep a customer’s damn lights on)

Solar + Whatever: How to provide home energy resilience (and keep a customer’s damn lights on)

August 24, 2020 at 10:46 am Comments are Disabled

It only takes one hurricane, tornado or wildfire for the value of a resilient home energy system to sink in. Add to such increasing natural disasters the unpopular new utility practice in California of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) — a preemptive shut down of swaths of the grid toRead More

Residential BIPV in 2020: Solar shingles yield to roof-integrated innovation

Residential BIPV in 2020: Solar shingles yield to roof-integrated innovation

June 8, 2020 at 1:27 pm Comments are Disabled

The integrated solar roof has long been a solar technology goal — combining solar power with a watertight roof covering — but the category (often seen as just “solar shingles”) is perceived as too expensive or too experimental compared to the cost of separately installing solar and a traditional roof usingRead More

Seven solar tracker system tweaks and new tech to know in 2020

Seven solar tracker system tweaks and new tech to know in 2020

April 20, 2020 at 10:31 am Comments are Disabled

This article appears in the Spring issue of Solar Builder magazine. Get your free subscription (print or digital) here. Sunfolding’s pneumatics One unique tracker design on display at Intersolar 2020 back in February was the bellow-actuated Sunfolding single axis tracker. The bellow, manufactured with a DuPont polymer, uses no motorsRead More

CPS inverter service techs now blanket the country. Photo: CPS.

Exclusive details on CPS America’s dedicated solar inverter O&M service

March 31, 2020 at 10:00 am Comments are Disabled

The concept of offering operations and maintenance (O&M) to solar asset holders is not new. A host of O&M companies now provide soup-to-nuts service for commercial and utility-scale PV plants. But none of these service providers is also an inverter manufacturer, much less one that offers a 99 percent inverterRead More

Power Electdronics showcased a new EV charger solution at this year's Intersolar.

Six solar investment trends: Energy storage and shorter PPAs (and oil companies?) lead the way

February 13, 2020 at 9:33 am Comments are Disabled

Corporate investors in solar energy are modifying their expectations and demands for future utility-scale solar projects, bolstering the profile of the industry as a long-term asset class, and altering PPA and contract terms that make more deals possible, said financiers at Intersolar 2020 in San Diego. The impact of thisRead More

Panasonic's EverVolt is one of several heavyweight contenders vying for the residential solar + storage market.

Solar + storage roundup: All the single-vendor systems and strategic partnerships from the last few months

January 14, 2020 at 8:00 am Comments are Disabled

Along with the doubling of the U.S. residential solar + storage market last year, new system providers have cropped up like spring weeds, helping to make the consumer decision about which to select a more difficult proposition. Many of these new providers are banking on well-known brands, strategic acquisitions andRead More

Vertical Reach: Trina Solar is taking turn-key solar procurement to its furthest point yet

Vertical Reach: Trina Solar is taking turn-key solar procurement to its furthest point yet

October 15, 2019 at 8:00 am Comments are Disabled

Solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies have all too often been forced to choose solar components for projects as a function of what is available in a given timeframe rather than what is preferred. While cost may not be a great issue in these cases, making all the partsRead More

Stacks on Value Stacks: The large-scale solar plus storage market is coming together

Stacks on Value Stacks: The large-scale solar plus storage market is coming together

August 6, 2019 at 8:00 am Comments are Disabled

Large-scale solar + storage is on the drawing boards of a host of major EPCs, with the current round of demonstration plants leading to wholesale installations by 2020, say several industry players. “While we are early in the deployment cycle for large-scale solar + storage, we expect a ramping atRead More