Solar e-News Round-Up - Issue 1
9th May 2013

This issue covers:

New homes solar PV first for Lancaster, California

The City Council of Lancaster, California has approved a new policy requiring newly built residential units to provide solar power - a first in the USA, according to the city.

The measure was incorporated as part of a comprehensive recent review of the city's residential zoning laws and passed at its March council meeting.

As a result of the decision, residential units built within Lancaster on or after January 1st, 2014, must provide an average of 1 kW of solar-generated electricity per housing unit.

Installation of solar energy systems is not required for all homes within a production subdivision, the city notes. However, the builder will still be required to meet the aggregate energy generation requirement within the subdivision.

"Lancaster is already strongly committed to furthering green energy and reducing our carbon footprint," said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. In fact we’ve been nationally and internationally recognized for our solar achievements. However, to truly establish ourselves as the 'Alternative Energy Capital of the World,' we must continue to take a progressive approach."


Seaward solar PV tester verifies module quality and performance in the Caribbean

Advanced Seaward Solar PV test instrumentation is helping Comet Solar, a successful reseller and installer of solar photovoltaic systems to verify the quality of PV modules and the performance of installations in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.

Comet has been successful in encouraging local hotels, resorts, property owners and businesses to invest in solar systems as a means of helping to offset the effects of the economic downturn on tourism levels and rising energy costs. However, buying bargain priced solar PV modules brings its own challenges; second hand or refurbished modules are often used, but, in some cases the life history of the modules or the original manufacturer is not always known.

Despite a lack of formal installation standards or regulations, and in the interests of maintaining installation quality, Comet always aims to apply and meet the existing standards of the US NEC code and to perform to the best practices of the industry.

To help achieve this the company has recently invested in a dedicated new Seaward Solar PV150 solar installation test kit, along with a 200R irradiance meter, to enable it to carry out effective quality control and customer reassurance testing on its products and installations.

The Seaward Solar PV150 is a dedicated multi-function PV electrical tester designed specifically for solar panel system installation. It performs open circuit voltage measurements (Voc), short circuit current measurements (Isc), earth continuity, insulation resistance, operating current (via AC/DC current clamp).

The tester has been used successfully to verify the condition of a batch of pre-used PV units that have now been re-installed on a 12 kW commercial flat roof top system, as well as on new modules used in the installation of a 500 kW project.

Chris Mason said: “Using the PV150 system on an installation in front of the client gives confidence that the installers are professional and are doing the project properly.

“We are seeing the emergence of some less than professional installers in the region who perform poorly crafted installations, test nothing and do not give the customer any comfort that the work is being done properly.

“We invite our customers to witness the commissioning tests with the PV150 so they can see how much work goes into our quality assurance procedures. This is both a marketing tool to enhance word of mouth referrals and protection against liability from call-backs.

“Documenting system performance at commissioning gives us a baseline against which to retest in the case of a complaint or problem, both with customers and manufacturers. For this use alone, the test kit and reporting system is invaluable.”

Find out more about the PV150 Solar Installation Test Kit.


New US solar industries alliance

The US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the US Solar Heating and Cooling Council have launched the U.S. Solar Heating & Cooling Alliance (SHC Alliance).

The new alliance will focus on growing the solar heating and cooling market through reducing barriers and advocating for policies on the federal, state and local levels.

The collaboration will seek to take actions that will help to maintain and develop markets for SHC businesses and to energize the industry through collaboration and funding of collective priorities.

The group will be led by Chair Mike Healy from Skyline Innovations, Vice Chair Matt Carlson from Sunnovations and Treasurer Eileen Prado from the Solar Rating & Certification Corp.

More at


Breakdown of US solar PV capacity

The US solar industry established new records in 2012 and it is expected that 2013 will be another growth year for installed solar capacity.

Last year the US solar industry installed approximately 3.2 GW of capacity and individual states continue to develop new plans to promote solar energy. For example, regulators in Hawaii have amended policies to allow for more advancement in renewable technology. California grid legislators have increased the amount of solar allowed through “net metering”—meaning customers can offset the cost of the electricity they generate themselves through their solar panels. In addition, states like Colorado and Vermont have streamlined solar permitting and capped costs on the allowable permit fees.

Going forward, Federal incentives such as investment tax credits and loan programmes will also continue to promote the large-scale commercialization of solar energy and boost the establishment of solar plants in the U.S. Even as powerhouse solar markets like California slow down, other states like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania pick up the slack.

During 2012 California maintained its unofficial title of the “greenest state” in the US. It reached a major landmark when it surpassed 1 GW of installed solar power capacity, at least 50% of which is attributed to its California Solar Initiative financial incentives which are designed to slowly decrease throughout the years as solar technology becomes more widespread.

Full details at


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