Solar technology has been quickly growing throughout the United States over the past 10 years, but it has existed for decades, and Advanced Energy is proud to have supported it every step of the way. In Advanced Energy’s early years, we promoted awareness of residential solar opportunities, fostered community workshops that educated residents and professionals about passive solar design, active solar heating and photovoltaic (PV) systems, and offered testing for a variety of solar-based equipment, such as solar water heaters. Starting in the mid-1980s, Advanced Energy worked with Carolina Power & Light Company to examine how PV modules affect utility distribution systems. The project sought to learn about interconnection and other equipment-related requirements while troubleshooting any issues that arose. Although solar technology was not cost effective during this time, Advanced Energy was staying ahead of the game to make sure it was progressing in a safe, usable and reliable direction.
Solar remained on the outside of the market for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, but Advanced Energy showed its continued support by forming NC GreenPower in 2003. NC GreenPower is a nonprofit that promotes better environmental quality by supporting renewable energy, carbon offset projects and solar installations at K-12 schools. It offers performance-based incentives to renewable energy generators for delivering energy to the grid, as tracked by utility statements. NC GreenPower began with just a handful of projects but has since supported more than 1,000 renewable energy generator projects across North Carolina, most of which have been residential solar PV.
In 2015, NC GreenPower started the Solar Schools pilot program. This educational pilot provides grants for the installation of small solar PV arrays (3-5 kilowatts [kW]) in North Carolina schools. It offers 50 percent matching funds, up to $10,000, for schools that cannot afford PV technology. Qualified contractors install the PV systems while NC GreenPower staff manages the projects and provides real-time monitoring equipment, curriculum and lesson plans for educators, offering a hands-on solar experience for students. In a follow-up initiative, NC GreenPower is partnering with Duke Energy Carolinas, who provided a $300,000 investment for solar PV systems at up to 10 schools across North Carolina. This program began in 2017 and funds 100 percent of the installation costs for rooftop or top-of-pole mounted systems on school property, along with the monitoring equipment, training and curriculum.
Advanced Energy’s solar PV program truly blossomed a few years ago when a Southeast utility requested consulting and assessment for their utility-owned PV systems. Advanced Energy was able to assist the utility, and the opportunity acted as the launching point for the services that Advanced Energy offers today: a suite of PV engineering services for utilities, private companies, developers, and more. With solar technology quickly developing, there are growing concerns about safety, premature failure, poor performance, and power quality impacts. It is therefore becoming increasingly important that PV facilities are properly designed and constructed in accordance with rapidly changing codes and standards. Advanced Energy seeks to ensure that solar projects are installed to quality standards, provide optimal performance and can be maintained for safe and reliable operation for the life of the system.
Advanced Energy’s current solar offerings take a variety of forms, using a mix of off-site and on-site evaluations. Following all services, clients receive a summary report detailing the findings. The services Advanced Energy provides include AC interconnection support, equipment and performance spot checks, high-level quality assessments, detailed quality assessments, and PV facility commissioning. For more details on services, please visit Advanced Energy’s solar page.
Advanced Energy has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to solar technology, and with solar’s increasing cost effectiveness and growth, Advanced Energy continues to ensure that it is being implemented effectively, correctly, reliably and safely. Advanced Energy is working closely with industry and utilities to address issues and find solutions as they arise. With our decades of experience ranging from commercial scale to large utility scale projects, we are well-equipped to handle many solar-related needs and make sure your PV facilities are safe and reliable.