First Solar, Solaire, Princeton Power pick up Intersolar awards

Three solar projects and one renewable energy pioneer were honored at the Intersolar North America awards ceremony on Tuesday in San Francisco.

Projects by First Solar, Solaire Generation and Princeton Power Systems all picked up Intersolar Awards.

As the first day of the Intersolar North America trade show wound up, Intersolar Awards were handed down to three North American PV projects. The awards recognized installations that were significant in terms of scale, levels of innovation and contribution towards community awareness of PV.

First Solar’s 290 MW Agua Caliente Solar Project in Arizona was one winner, with the sheer size of the project demonstrating how PV "can stand shoulder to shoulder with dirty power," said CALSEIA Executive Director Bernadette del Chiaro. Del Chiardo noted that the PV power plant was also significant for demonstrating that large scale PV can be succesfully integrated into electricity grids.

Brian Kunz, First Solar’s vice president of Project Development, accepted the award, stating that the vast power plant was a "proof of concept" for utility scale PV developed by the company. "Agua Caliente set the bar and brought us into the mainstream," said Kunz.

The second project to receive an award was the Alcatraz Island Micro-Grid PV plus storage installation, which was developed by Princeton Power Systems. The 400 kW solar array installed on the roof of the iconic former San Francisco prison is integrated with a large battery array to provide 24-hour power supply. The PV electricity supplants diesel generation on the island, meeting 60% of the island’s demand.

The third array to pick up an award was a solar carport designed and installed by Solaire Generation. Located at a Whole Foods Market in the state of New York, the 325 kW system provides the business with 20% of its power and also collects rain water.

The solar carport is the largest of its type in New York and New York State Senator Kevin Parker, who spoke at the opening ceremony the previous day, presented the award.

Champion of change

Michael R. Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), became the inaugural Intersolar Champion of Change for his work to create a policy environment that has helped California solar bloom. Peevey has been president of the CPUC since his appointment in 2002. He has served under three governors during which time installed PV capacity in the state has grown from around 25 MW of rooftop PV and one utility-scale plant, to more than 2 GW of rooftop solar and over 4 GW of large-scale PV power plants.

"The pace of change will only increase," said Peevey, speaking of solar’s future. "PV installed capacity in the first several months of 2014 was up 50% compared to 2013. When you couple PV with storage, the combination will be fantastic for California. This state is and will remain the leader in renewables, trying to make a sustainable world."

The Intersolar Award Ceremony commenced with the performance of two songs by some of the Quick Mount PV team. The singers encouraged attendees to frequent Wednesday night’s “Solar Battle of the Bands,” saying that such events help to “keep the community spirit of solar alive."