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About Charles W. Thurston

Charles W. Thurston Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.



Author Archives: Charles W. Thurston

Solar Modeling & Monitoring Granularity Boost Efficiency

August 6th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The days of over-designing and over-building solar power plants to make up for unforeseen generation losses are gone. This is largely thanks to the emerging solar strategy of pursuing every tenth of a percent of system performance by better understanding the impact of equipment specifications, plant monitoring, and maintenance on the Performance Ratio, and therefore on the bottom line


Portugal Bags Lowest-Cost Solar Bid In The World

August 1st, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The Portuguese energy secretariat has secured 1.15 GW of solar development at an average cost of €20.33 ($22.53 per megawatt-hour), representing an investment of about €800 million or $887 million. One of the bids was made at €14.76/MWh ($16.44/MWh), which was declared a new world record for low solar bidding, according to Portugal's Journal Económico


What Is The Greatest Environmental Hazard For Solar Energy? Dust!

July 10th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

With such a groundswell of solar growth, what can limit the performance of PV systems? The answer is dust, or other forms of soiling that accumulate on the glass surface of solar panels, obscuring light from the cells within. Driven by location and weather, soiling is worst in deserts like the US Southwest, in the presence of air pollution, and on solar arrays that have flat tilt designs


New Study Calls For Monitoring Old Oil & Gas Wells For Air Emissions

June 27th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

A new study on the hazardous gas emissions from the calamitous 2015 blowout of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, near Porter Ranch, CA, has found that apart from methane, a group of other hazardous pollutants escaped into the air, affecting many residents in the area. The study calls for air monitoring at underground gas storage facilities nationwide, potentially affecting thousands of sites around the country


Trina Tests Half-Frame Solar Panels To Trim Cost By 2%

June 10th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Trina Solar is now testing a half-frame solar panel for use with solar trackers with hopes to lower the cost per watt for solar by 1 cent or about 2% overall, said Steven Zhu, the president of the company’s America Region, based in San Jose, in an interview Friday


SgurrEnergy India Helps Reduce Global Solar Design & Engineering Costs

June 9th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Solar developers, manufacturers, EPCs/system builders, and investors alike rely on detailed independent engineering (IE) studies when proposing a solar project to a bank and for implementing the project. These so-called bankability studies are often produced from different points of view, depending on the role of the company in a solar development


Value Of Solar Debate Accelerates In Minnesota

June 5th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The cumulative value of residential solar installations for utilities is comprised of two different parts: the generation of electricity to the grid, and the avoided cost of building new generation. While the former is fairly straightforward and owners are compensated through net metering or other rate schemes, the latter is difficult to assess and thus far homeowners have received little compensation


CleanSpark Tunes Up Microgrid Design & Operation

May 29th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

CleanSpark, based in San Diego, is a microgrid manager, using intelligent analytics for design and decision making, along with advanced controls for 24/7 operations. The company began testing its solution on a local residential system that was located just far enough off the grid that the utility would have made interconnection a very expensive option


Ciel et Terre Turns To PPA For California’s Largest Floating Solar System

May 23rd, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

French floating solar specialist Ciel et Terre has begun installation of 1.78 megawatt floatovoltaic technology system at what it calls the largest floating solar system in California. To finance this project, the company has utilized a 25-year power purchase agreement for the first time, providing a lifetime savings of $4 million for the Town of Windsor


Wind & Solar PPA Price Index Drops 2.3% in Q1 2019

May 11th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The cost of commercial and industrial scale solar and wind power is still headed down. Power purchase agreement (PPA) contract prices examined in five independent energy distribution territories in the country showed indexed prices down by $0.39/megawatt-hour, or 2.3% during first quarter of this year compared with the fourth quarter of 2018, according to LevelTen Energy’s latest report in May


Dual Axis Solar Tracker Field Performance Yields 27.7% ROI

May 10th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The slow adoption of new technology in the US solar industry provides time for field verification of manufacturers’ claims, which at times sound too good to be true. In the case of large-format dual axis trackers, however, the latest round of annual production numbers is eye-catching: a 27.73% return on investment, or a payback period of only three years


US Solar Installs Hit 2 Million In Q2

May 9th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The US solar market is now over 2 million installations, and forecasts expect solar installations to double by 2023, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The Q2 record comes just three years after the industry completed its 1 millionth installation, a feat that took 40 years to accomplish


California Aggregators To Seek 10 GW Of Clean Power By 2030

May 1st, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

California’s Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) are slowly assuming the traditional utility role of acquiring renewable energy generation for customers. While the role is fairly new, the CCAs nonetheless are now faced with the massive task of securing 9 to 10 gigawatts of new clean energy to meet the state’s 2030 ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets


California Readies Clean Energy Financing Clearinghouse

April 29th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

California state funding has created a harvest cornucopia of clean energy programs ranging from solar energy for low income housing to familiarization test drives of electric vehicles. But each state agency has its own set of rules about who can get funding, what kind of matched private funding may be necessary, and how to go about getting access to the funds


NEXTracker Inaugurates Expanded Bifacial Solar Test Facility

April 23rd, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

NEXTracker, the fastest selling solar tracker in the world, inaugurated its expanded bifacial solar test facility at its Center for Solar Excellence in Fremont, CA, April 22 to celebrate Earth Day. The test bed includes 20 different bifacial test scenarios, including multiple panel types from Longi, JA Solar, and Jinko, says Dan Shugar, the founder of the company


20 Smarter E Award Finalists To Be Showcased In Munich

April 12th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Outstanding Project finalists for the Smarter E Award 2019 are driving the sustainable energy industry forward, by developing grid infrastructure of the future, innovating digitalization technologies, coupling of the electricity-heating-mobility sectors, and deriving new business models for electricity trading and marketing, say organizers of the Smarter E trade show, which will be held in Munich May 15-


Intersolar Announces 2019 Award Finalists In Smarter E Europe Show

April 12th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The names of the InterSolar Award 2019 finalists have been released ahead of the Smarter E Europe show, to be held May 15-17 in Munich, when the winners will be identified. The competitors for the award are honored for pioneering technologies and services for the solar industry. The submissions for the award span a wide range of technologies, from solar modules to inverters to substructures, the organizers say



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