With 15,000 attendees from 75+ countries and more than 600 leading manufacturers, service providers, and vendors, Solar Power International has become North America’s premier business-to-business event for industry professionals. Ten members of the Stion team were in attendance including those from Stion Energy Services, our turn-key in house development arm. SPI 2015 proved to be an exciting and successful week for the Stion team as industry leaders went head to head and we even got a surprise visit from the White House.
On the floor of the tradeshow, industry executives mingled with Solar Power developers and manufacturers, as utilities continue to look for projects to finance, to diversify their traditional generation assets. Just in the past year Stion supplied frameless modules for five 1MW projects all in the State of Georgia, financed and owned by Washington Gas Holdings. At SPI we met with our contacts from the WGL team to review existing systems and talk about future projects. While most of our project development arm was at the conference, the installation team was busy at work finishing the first ever utility scale project in Mississippi for the ribbon cutting which occurred on September 23rd. The Entergy project was developed and installed by Stion Energy Services, whose familiarity with the Stion product enables fast and economical commissioning of high-performance projects.
Stion’s frameless panels were on display at SPI at the Renusol and RBI booths, where the all-black frameless module blended seamlessly with the mockup shingled roof. Like Stion, Renusol is also located in the Southeastern US in Atlanta, GA. Combining a heritage of excellence in German engineering with American innovation, Renusol America has experienced exponential growth since its launch and is now among the top rooftop mounting solution providers in the US, with systems installed in 34 states. Renusol’s Solar PV mounting system is a great solution for residential installs. Stion takes great pride in our panels having flawless all-black aesthetics, and having a BOS partner whose black oxide frameless clamps allow for a system to virtually disappear atop a roof is a great benefit and differentiating factor of Stion’s panels. The frameless clamps that Renusol offers were jointly designed to spec by engineers from both companies, for maximum compatibility and durability.
Renusol’s parent company, RBI Solar, Inc. is the leading turn-key solution provider for solar mounting systems. They design, engineer, manufacture and install solar mounting systems for commercial and utility scale projects. As a specialist in ground mount, roof mount, and custom designed specialty solar structures, RBI Solar focuses on providing best-in-class solar racking systems and also offers complementary project management services. Matching Renusol’s and RBI Solar’s racking solutions with Stion panels, both framed and frameless, it is hard to find better quality in the industry thanks to the All-American quality, reliability and safety. RBI’s mounting solution was used on four of our 1MW projects in the state of Georgia.
On Tuesday, we walked the show floor with our partners from the Brittmoore Group, as they demonstrated their clampless utility scale racking system with high-speed installation. They were featuring a display with their new adhesive partner, Sika. Britmoore’s solution is designed for Stion’s frameless panel, driving down installation costs by using an adhesive, similar to that which is used to adhere glass to skyscrapers, and avoiding the need for clamps.
On Tuesday we also met with one of our many enthusiastic and loyal residential installers out of San Antonio, TX, Green Star Solutions, who purchases modules through our regional distribution partner CED Greentech. Owners Michael and Carmen Higgins spoke about how the Stion product allowed them to differentiate themselves from all of the crystalline producers that are available, and noted the high demand for MADE IN USA panels in the nascent but growing Texas market, and the fact that Stion is one of the few producing domestically in the United States.
On Wednesday, the attendees of the show were greeted by a surprise visit from Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke to over 2,000 of SPI’s attendees. He congratulated everyone in attendance at the progress the solar industry has made, citing that solar has reached grid parity in many states in the US. He specifically noted that wholesale solar power prices have reached as low as 3.7 cents per kWh, and while this was not the average, it signaled the direction in which the industry was headed. Vice President Biden was very enthusiastic at the success of the solar industry and its ability to help curb greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
On Wednesday evening, Stion invited its key clients and partners to an “All-American” themed event at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. The event was packed to capacity and drew over 60 current and potential Stion customers and partners / vendors. It gave the Stion team the opportunity to introduce customers from different market segments to each other, all sharing the one commonality of wanting to help their customers be “Simply Better.” One of our key local Southern CA customers who attended was MD energy of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, who is working on a high-profile regional airport installation which will be announced in Q4.
On Thursday, Stion’s Seth Stulgis attended the Commercial and Industrial Solar Breakthrough Summit hosted by PVMC, SunShot, and SEIA, where a number of panelists spoke about asset optimization, operations and maintenance and financing. The hot topic on the financing panel was that community solar is finally realizing rapid growth after years of buzz and hype, allowing individuals who would otherwise not be able to invest in clean energy to take advantage of the benefits of economies of scale and invest in shares of larger solar projects. The speakers suggested that community solar developers look at rooftops in addition to ground mounts to minimize land use. On the asset optimization and O&M panel they spoke about predicted maintenance and the need for inverters and monitoring systems to provide more information as to when maintenance should occur, as regular maintenance can drastically improve project returns for asset owners.
This talk re-enforced a common theme at SPI about the continued importance of achieving superior returns in order to make projects viable from a financing perspective. As highlighted in our earlier project related press releases this year, Stion panels and systems can help asset owners achieve “Simply Better” returns on their projects compared to other module manufacturers. Stion’s industry leading temperature coefficient and the inherent zero degradation of CIGS panels ensures that Stion projects will produce the same amount of energy year after year. Traditional Si panels degrade ½% or more each year, and over time this lowers overall returns. . If you are looking for a turn-key solar solution, our vertically integrated project development team, Stion Energy Services, can ensure a seamless experience and even provides financing.
There was also a great deal of buzz about mixed experiences with foreign manufacturers, specifically those in China, whose product was experiencing quality control issues and degrading more rapidly than expected. Given these product concerns and the recent turbulence in the Chinese capital markets, we encourage you to consider Stion’s “Simply Better” modules and systems as a higher performance and more bankable module technology for your future projects.
With demand for the Stion modules increasing, Stion is doubling its annual capacity to 120MW through an equipment lease provided by AVACO. The buildout of the factory is expected to be complete by early 2016, to ensure improved supply availability for the rush expected in 2016, when the current ITC expires and will need to be renewed in some form.
Stay tuned for additional updates from Stion, as we have an exciting remainder of the year lined up including several additional roadshow events and Stion speakers at selected industry events globally! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to call us if you have an opportunity which could use our “Simply Better” products and services!