The Annual Solar Power Generation USA Congress has announced this year’s SPG USA ’14 Awards, which recognizes projects for best solar collaboration, best solar project and most innovative solar company. The awards went to a diverse set of companies and were presented by Rear Admiral Len Hering.
SunEdison and Solaire Generation won the Best Solar Project category for their installation of a solar canopy at a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, New York. The City of Palo Alto, Calif. won the Best Solar Collaboration Award, while Boulder, Colo.-based Clean Energy Collective won the Most Innovative Solar Company Award.
Colorado’s Clean Energy Collective, which develops community-owned solar projects across the U.S., was awarded for “providing true ownership of panels to community solar participants, presenting no capital costs to the utility company and demonstrating how such business models can be beneficial for all parties involved,” SPG said. “Clean Energy Collective are paving the way for others to help distributed PV move forward,” it added.
Solaire Generation's Whole Foods array meets up to 25 percent of the store’s energy needs, according to SPG and provides protection from the weather for shoppers. “The canopies also feature an integrated storm water management system to lower the building’s water use and reduce storm runoff,” SPG said. “With the store situated on a remediated brownfield site, featuring an off-grid LED parking lot lighting, a combined heat and power (CHP) system and self-generating car charging stations via both wind and solar power, the store shows how PV can integrate with other measures to develop a truly green building.”
Palo Alto won the award for best collaboration for streamlining the residential and commercial solar array approval process there. “Having gained a reputation as being one of the most rigorous agencies to get approval and pass inspections for solar panel installations, the city pulled together staff, elected officials, homeowners, and representatives from leading installers alongside solar to create a stakeholder group tasked with overhauling the process,” SPG said.
Prior to undertaking the collaborative project, it took the California city an average of 122 days to gain permits for a solar power array on a home and 209 days until final inspection. Through the collaborative effort the city reduced the average time to permit to 27 days and the time to final inspection to 140 days in 2013. “As a result of these improvements, the number of solar applications received in city the same three-month period increased by 67 percent,” SPG said.