Shoals Technologies Secures Investment, Enters Partnership
Solar balance-of-systems company Shoals Technologies Group has announced an investment by funds managed by the Power Opportunities group of Oaktree Capital Management LP. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Founded in 1996, Shoals designs and manufactures a range of products for solar and energy storage projects, including combiner boxes, junction boxes, wiring, and monitoring solutions, among others. The company says it has deployed its products on more than 25 GW of solar projects in markets across North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
“We are very proud of the innovation, performance and reliability we have brought to the solar industry over the past two decades,” says Dean Solon, founder and CEO of Shoals Technologies Group. “Today, we are seeing incredible demand for our BLA solution, an integrated wire harness that eliminates combiner boxes and significantly reduces installation cost. Partnering with Oaktree provides Shoals with the resources, expertise and support to help drive further growth and success in the rapidly expanding international solar and energy storage markets.”
“As the solar market matures, customers are demanding high-quality and long-lasting system solutions that deliver maximum value,” says Peter Jonna, senior vice president of Oaktree’s Power Opportunities group, who adds, “We are very excited to partner with Dean and his team to support their continued growth and success.”
In addition to securing a new investment, Shoals has also announced plans to collaborate with solar tracker company Array Technologies on structural and electrical BOS solutions for utility-scale solar.
According to the companies, this relationship will leverage the complementary nature of Array’s trackers and Shoals’ electrical BOS solutions and will result in improved performance and stronger economics for both project developers and asset owners and higher efficiencies for engineering, procurement and construction companies.
“Array is thrilled about working with Shoals. Together, as BOS leaders in the market, we are in a unique position to innovate and advance unrivaled, integrated system solutions,” says Ron Corio, founder and CEO of Array Technologies.
Solon adds, “Shoals has been designing electrical BOS for the Array tracker for years, and we are looking forward to a fresh approach on system integration with Ron and the Array team.”
LG Electronics USA Unveils New Residential Modules
LG Electronics USA has announced the launch of two new solar panels for residential installation.
The LG NeON R is a 60-cell solar panel for residential installation with back contact. The newly released technology has all electrodes on the rear side, creating a panel with polished aesthetics, improved temperature coefficient and heightened visual appeal, according to the company.
“The NeON R back-contact technology blends form and function, allowing for 100 percent of the cell area to be used for solar power generation,” says Stephen Hahm, vice president and head of LG Electronics USA’s energy solutions business.
LG says its NeON R features improved temperature performance characteristics that enhance output for maximum efficiency, even in low-light or hot, sunny conditions. NeON R panels are rated at 365 W per panel, compared with most conventional panels that have a 290 W rating, equating to 26% more power from the NeON R panel, the company explains. And, unlike conventional p-type solar modules, the n-type cells used in the NeON R use almost no boron, so light induced degradation is reduced significantly, according to LG.
LG has also eliminated busbars on the front of the module for aesthetic purposes and for maximizing light absorption. In addition, its newly reinforced frame design ensures the module can endure heavy front and rear loads. LG is offering a 25-year product warranty.
LG Electronics has also launched the NeON 2 ACe panel in partnership with micro-inverter specialist Enphase Energy Inc. According to LG, the new two-step solar panel is the first result of the collaboration between the companies for residential installation.
According to LG, the 60-cell NeON 2 ACe combines the processes of logistics, installation and monitoring and ultimately reduces installation time by half compared with conventional modules.
With this integrated AC module, the installation process simply requires lifting the micro-inverter on the back of the panel out of the flat shipping position and connecting the cable, without the need to install the two products separately. Once roof installation is complete and Enphase’s internal software is set up, Enphase technology remote monitoring and management software can be controlled from any Web-connected device.
On the surface, LG NeON2 ACe utilizes brand-new cello technology, which the company claims replaces the industry-standard three busbars with 30 thin wires, enhancing output and reliability. LG Electronics adds that the energy created by this solar panel can be safely converted to AC voltage. A strategically positioned 15 mm distance separates the DC module and the micro-inverter, mitigating any impact to performance and reliability by allowing sufficient airflow for cooling.
LG NeON 2 ACe also comes equipped with LG Electronics’ 12-year unit warranty and a 25-year warranty for the micro-inverter. LG says the anodized aluminum frame of the panel can endure a front load up to 6,000 Pa and a rear load up to 5,400 Pa.
Drone Services Company Launches Solar Solutions
Measure, a provider of drone services for enterprise customers, has launched a new suite of inspection solutions specifically for solar plant maintenance.
The Drone as a Service company, based out of Washington, D.C., says the new turnkey solutions enable solar facility owners, asset managers, and operations and maintenance (O&M) contractors to realize the cost and operational benefits of aerial inspections without having to invest in drones and the training that goes along with them.
“Drone technology has resulted in new savings and efficiency opportunities for the solar energy industry, but a major investment of capital and human resources is required for solar PV plants and O&M contractors to run a drone program in-house,” explains Harjeet Johal, Measure’s vice president of energy infrastructure and a 10-year veteran of the renewable energy industry.
According to the company, solar panel inspections are the cornerstone of the new solution suite; the drones can quickly and cost-effectively identify defective or damaged panels. The suite includes drone-based site overview and maintenance, site shading and terrain analysis, thermal inverter scans, tracker misalignment detection, and vegetation management.
On a site generating 21 MW, for example, Measure says it can complete an inspection within seven hours (instead of weeks). Specially designed “snapshot” reports can dramatically reduce the time required for asset managers to extract actionable information. In addition, Measure notes that its online portal provides secure data hosting capabilities and customized tools for reporting and analytics.
“We selected Measure to inspect our energy infrastructure both in the U.S. and internationally because they provide an end-to-end solution that integrates seamlessly into our asset and work management processes, use the best available technology, and directly align with our ‘safety first’ commitment,” states Bernerd Da Santos, senior vice president and chief operating officer of The AES Corp., a Fortune 200 global power company. “They will help us scale our own drone program to cover our renewable and thermal generation, pipelines, and transmission and distribution lines everywhere we operate.”
To learn more about commercial and civil drones, check out Solar Industry’s sister publication Unmanned Aerial Online (unmanned-aerial.com).