Stion and Nanosolar at the San José Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase

[San José, California USA]

A US Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Cities Special Project.

Since posting the Stion Photovoltaic (PV) module array photos on my hidden PV Photos webpage, I was able to tour the San José Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase from inside the fence. I joined the first free tour on Saturday after registering a few hours earlier that same morning.

Located across the street from the San José City Hall, the Clean Energy Showcase has eleven projects thus far featuring solar, wind, and energy efficiency technologies with a heavy dose of solar. Whether grid-tied or off-grid, each project was feature complete and feeding power to the grid or for application consumption and storage with the exception of the vertical wind turbine which has not been interconnected yet. A few more projects are planned for completion by San José’s Earth Day celebration in April. Before and after the tour, I had face time with the Stion and Nanosolar PV projects.

Stion Corporation
The Stion ground mount thin film CIGSSe (“copper-indium-gallium-sulfur-(di)selenide” per “
Eye on Stion, Part II” by Tom Cheyney at PV-Tech.org) PV array consists of twenty-four (24) Elevation Series SN-120 modules rated at a combined 2.88 kiloWatt-peak (kWp DC) and grid connected through a Power-One, Inc. (NASDAQ:PWER) Aurora Uno PVI-4.2 (4.2 kW AC) inverter. Eschewing a southern orientation, the Stion PV array faces west towards the offices of Burnham Energy who facilitated permitting and inspections for the installation performed by Fresco Solar.

Please review my Picasa slideshow photos of the Stion installation including my observations.

Nanosolar, Inc.
The Nanosolar 1.92 kW DC commercial rooftop system uses twelve (12)
160 Watt-peak Nanosolar Utility Panels mounted with the SunLink Corporation Thin Film Roof Mount System and grid connected via an SMA Solar Technology AG (ETR:S92) Sunny Boy inverter. Real Goods Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:RSOL) completed the Nanosolar project installation.

Even with all my In Search of efforts, I had never seen a Nanosolar Utility Panel or installation up close. Nanosolar’s frameless panel was the most striking difference versus the 1.4 inch (35mm) metal frame of the Stion SN-120. I wonder if Stion chose to have a frame for mechanical compatibility with their planned tandem modules? I followed the panel to panel wiring to understand the Nanosolar Edge Connector in action. Though facilitating lengthwise panel series connection, the Edge Connector is anything but ready for panel integrated power electronics. Aspects of the Nanosolar PV installation are shown in the Picasa slideshow below.

I took photos and noted the instantaneous power output on both inverters. However, without knowing the solar irradiance at around noon that day, I don’t think the readings are very useful. The grid-tied SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile array has a pyranometer, but I doubt SunPower Corporation will share the data with me. Relative performance data for the projects should be available online once Fat Spaniel monitoring is enabled, I assume on the Clean Energy Showcase website.

I was impressed with the breadth and pragmatic functionality of the demonstration projects, and our tour guide was solar fluent. Funding for the Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase was provided by donations and through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Clean Energy Showcase is one of seven (7) San José Special Projects funded by ARRA under the Solar America Cities program.

I noticed small green dots on some of the solar modules located towards the back wall of the showcase site. My working theory is the “dots” originated from painting the back wall on a windy day. I suggest the respective project participants remove the dots lest showcase visitors get the mistaken impression they are common solar module defects.

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