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Solar news: September 21st, 2018

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, SunPower’s premium solar panels are excluded from the Section 201 solar tariffs, and a new floating solar farm goes live in California.

SunPower excluded from Section 201 import tariffs

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative recently filed a decision to exclude certain products from the Section 201 tariffs imposed in January, and SunPower has emerged as the big winner. The newly-filed exclusions cover SunPower’s high-efficiency, premium solar panels that use interdigitated back contact (IBC). They were likely excluded due to the unique technology that IBC solar panels employ. Another notable exclusion in the filing is building-integrated PV (BIPV) products like the Tesla Solar Roof.

“With today’s decision that SunPower’s highly differentiated IBC cells and modules are excluded from tariffs, we are able to turn the page,” said Tom Werner, Chief Executive of SunPower, when the exclusions were announced. SunPower reported an estimated Q2 2018 net loss between $195 million and $215 million (due to the initial tariff), and this new exclusion promises to stop the bleeding and sets SunPower up for future success.

Largest floating solar project in the U.S. completed in California

Floating solar installation company Ciel & Terre recently finished the new largest floating solar array in the United States, the latest of four projects by the company. The array was built for Kelseyville County Waterworks District #3, a municipality in northern California. It is sized at 252 kilowatts (kW) of power and is designed to offset 100% of the Kelseyville plant’s electricity use.

Ciel & Terre’s Hydrelio technology is used to keep the panels secure and afloat. The technology involves flotation devices, maintenance access, and an anchoring system to keep the “solar island” from drifting while also allowing for water level fluctuations. The Hydrelio system is designed so that the solar array could sit at the bottom of the pond if it is drained entirely.

This isn’t the largest floating solar project in the world – not even close. In 2017, a floating solar array providing a whopping 40 megawatts (MW) of power was turned on in China. Water actually helps the panels produce power – its cooling effect allows solar panels to operate at higher efficiencies than normal, making floating solar arrays an intriguing option in the diversified future of solar power.


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