Bank

 

 

One of the biggest challenges for solar energy is securing funds. It is the first and most critical part to a successful solar project. Aside from the high up front cost required the biggest dilemma most lenders have is the energy output from a solar project. Energy output is what generates sales and revenue from a solar project, and just like any business lending, the criteria for bank investments is business measurability. Since solar project's sales revenue depends on Mother Nature the sun, this is a headache for banks.

Every bank has its own set of structures and rules based from past investment experiences to determine what business or type of investment is good for the institution. Unfortunately, solar is still in its infant stages here in the US, so for the past few years of solar there were not that many opportunities with bank financing. Solar as of today, is still viewed as risky investment in the banks eyes. However, standards and rules are just what they are, and as humans we all know solar is the best renewable solution we know of today. It is the only energy source that is not limited for many future generations to come. The issue is not the banks not wanting to get involved; it is really the question of 'how'.

In the last few years, banks and the government gathered data, research, and worked with solar experts around the world such as Europe, the biggest solar initiation country, to get US solar started. Banks needed bankability products, and government needed solar and together different financial structuring became available piece by piece.

There are many different financing structures in solar today, especially in the US marketplace. This is one of the reasons why US solar marketplace is currently the hottest place to be. Aside from the fantastic sunny states, but also the opportunity the federal, state and local governments provide for solar creative financing with banks. The following are a few of the most common financial structures around the world with involvement of banks in solar projects:

  • - Sale after Construction

  • - Investor Ownership Flip

  • - Leveraged Ownership Flip and PAYGO

  • - Back Leveraged Structure

  • - Leveraged Lease

  • - Homeowner Model

 

If you or someone you know is in the area of solar investments, bank financing, asset management, or just simply have an interest in solar financing we would love to hear from you. Find out how to be a part of the Greenstone solar financing community. Just fill out the form on our contact page or give us a call.

Government

 

 

Solar energy and the technologies used to harness the sun's power are not new to the US government or any government worldwide. Governments around the world have been using solar power for centuries. History dates back as early as 7th Century B.C. Through centuries of humankind intelligence different research and development took place and solar cell technology was born to harness the power of the sun back in the 1800 Century. It was around the late 1950s when solar cells became commercially available and introduced into the consumer households through novelty products like toys and radios. Governments were still the main users of solar due to the cost of solar cells being at $300/watt. It wasn't until the early 1970s when a research was discovered which lowered the price to $20/watt that the industrial uses of solar for government like powering up railroad crossings began. It was only a few decades ago when Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and enactments of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 & 2005 by the US government, made power producers including solar, an opportunity for businesses and consumers to be a part of the solar energy generation era.

Even with this great opportunity for people of the US to help make the planet a better place and the power to create energy independence for themselves and others, the cost of harnessing the sun's power is still too high to make it available for businesses and individuals to fully reach the goal. Thus, the US government continued the funding and man power into research and development for a discovery to lower the cost with better technologies. In the last few years US Department of Energy funded hundreds of millions of dollars into solar research and provided loans to as many as possible to help support the growth of solar energy in the US. At the same time, US Internal Revenue Service provided incentives for businesses in solar and consumers make this paradigm shift from polluted energy solutions and energy reliance to clean energy solutions and energy independence faster and easier for all Americans. The following are some of the Federal Incentives that the US Government provides to support solar in the marketplace:

*Note: Some incentive programs may have expired or not yet started. The list here is general information for the purpose of understanding the role of US Federal Government and what they are doing for solar. For more actual dates, qualifications, and details, or state and local incentives you can contact us by filling out the form, give us a call, or confirm the status of incentives through your own research.

  • - Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion (Personal)

  • - Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

  • - Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) + Bonus Depreciation

  • - Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion (Corporate)

  • - Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

  • - Tribal Energy Program Grant

  • - US Department of Treasury – Renewable Energy Grants

  • - USDA – High Energy Cost Grant Program

  • - USDA – Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants

  • - Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs)

  • - Energy-Efficient Mortgages

  • - Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs)

  • - US Department of Energy – Loan Guarantee Program

  • - USDA – Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loan Guarantees

  • - Renewable Energy Production Incentive (REPI)

 

Energy efficiency and crisis is not just a US issue, it is a global issue. Governments around the world have mandates and policies in place to make sure each country is contributing to making our world a cleaner and more energy efficient. Every country works differently therefore the setup of these quota of renewable energy are different.

In the US Government, when it comes to energy issues the regulatory provisions lies in three different jurisdiction; Federal, State, and Local. Therefore, in order for any successful solar project to see fruition it is critical to have a full understanding of all the regulations, laws, and incentives from each of these three jurisdictions, because not only doing something illegal is a bad idea, but most importantly how and what the government provides is one of the key points to a solar project financing structure.

It is very important to understand, that until this new era of solar energy generation becomes standardized and readily available as a consumer commodity, there will be turbulences and challenges from the start to the completion of a solar project. The following are some of the issues that have been the key challenges from the government side for solar projects:

  • - Permitting (Federal, State, Local or Interconnection, Building/Construction, Environment)

  • - Safety and Security Laws

  • - Upfront Costs such as fees incurred during development and construction phases

  • - Inconsistency of Regulatory Provisions between agencies and utilities

 

No need to be discouraged, frustrated, or disappointed, it is a journey to a better future. The best advice any so called 'solar expert' can give for the current US solar marketplace is stay updated, be knowledgeable, and get involved either through your own research, experience, learning, and sharing or work with someone that can assist you along your solar journey.

Every paradigm shift starts out like this, look back at the history of other technologies like wind turbines, or telecommunication in the US. Solar is not much different except that this time we will actually be doing something really great not only for the planet but also for our many future generations. The rewards are far more valuable than the cost of our generation.

If you or anyone you know is in the area of solar compliance, solar licensing, solar certification, solar regulatory, solar data research, solar development, utility commissioning, solar commodity trading, solar cooperatives, or simply have an interest in the US solar industry and like to get involved, we would love to hear from you. Find out how to be a part of the Greenstone USA sun power community. Just fill out the form on our contact page or give us a call.

Micro CSR Redifining

 Corporate Social Responsibility=>Relationship

100% of businesses are doing corporate social responsibility (CSR), most don’t know it, some are being recognized for it, and few are capitalizing on it. For decades CSR platforms such as conferences accommodated medium to big businesses and non-profits collaborating on maximizing benefits and value to both sectors, but 80% of our global economy is driven by micro, small, medium sized businesses (MSME), thus Micro CSR event series is born.

Micro CSR events are structured with the immediate needs of MSME, while integrating active community engagement by bringing together businesses and non-profits on one platform. We are not just about making business better and giving back, we are redefining the process creating sustainability for both sectors.

Corporate Social Responsibility Redefined. Welcome to Corporate Social Relationship.

Micro CSR

CSR CLEAN ENERGY DEBUT CELEBRATION
2014.01.24  in Tuscon, USA
EPC

 

 

EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement and Construction. It is the most commonly used form of construction arrangement in solar projects worldwide and is normally in the terms of a 'turn-key EPC contract'. For owners and developers of solar projects, having a turn-key EPC contractor helps move projects forward with more ease, less risk, and with better results. This is because a turn-key EPC contractor will be the main point of contact for majority of the project's needs. Many times these contractors also take on the role of project management for the project owner and developer.

A turn-key EPC contractor organization will either have all the necessary parts of EPC such as certified engineers, supply chain management, and licensed contractors in house or sub-contract out one or more of the functions to fulfill the contract. The construction part of the EPC contract is normally the area that is sub-contracted out in the United States. Depending on the location of the project site, the law requires construction and installation to be completed by a licensed general contractor and in some states solar installer license is also required. Since laws and regulations varies from state to state, very rare an EPC contractor organization have licensed general contractors for the whole nation.

The knowledge and experience of an EPC contractor is a lot more than what the terms EPC stands for, especially in the current solar industry. A more qualified EPC contractor possesses the following capabilities:

  • - Electrical Engineering

  • - Mechanical Engineering

  • - Civil Engineering

  • - Technical / Technology Understanding & Terminologies

  • - Supply Chain / Logistic Management

  • - Project Management

  • - Code Documentation & Enforcements

  • - Proper License & Certifications

  • - Utility Knowledge

  • - Operation & Maintenance Management

  • - Legal Counsel for Regulatory & Safety Issues

 

For a full completion of a solar project, the capabilities needed are widely differentiated, therefore; many EPC contractors have multiple sub-contractors. When more than 5 sub-contractors are in a turn-key EPC contract, the EPC contractor's key strength will mostly fall under project management.

If you or someone you know is an EPC contractor, engineer, procurement professional, general contractor, or just have an interest in solar EPC we would love to hear from you. Find out how to be a part of the Greenstone solar EPC community. Just fill out the form on our contact page or give us a call.