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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

California Leads In Net-Zero Homes As Costs Drop

February 14th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Half a dozen California cities are hosting enough net-zero homes to place the state in first place nationally among other states like Arizona where the net-zero trend is catching on rapidly, both among legislators and among leading homebuilders. This trend is expected to accelerate markedly over the coming decade, as the cost of adding net-zero features, including solar, drops by 50%


Sunfolding’s Pneumatic Solar Tracker Builds 60 Megawatt Pipeline

February 7th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Maverick pneumatic solar tracker maker Sunfolding has amassed a pipeline of 60 megawatts for the first quarter of 2019, following its 2018 commercial rollout, says Matthew Schneider, the vice president of product at the San Francisco-based company. Sunfolding also is supplying its first delivery contract for a utility-scale photovoltaic array, a 39 MW project in California, using the company’s motor-less T29 single-axis design


Atlas Renewable Adds NEXTracker Solar Software In Latin America

January 31st, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Atlas Renewable Energy has adopted NEXTracker’s TrueCapture orientation software for several new solar projects in Latin America, while retrofits are in the works for older arrays lacking the control system. Atlas has more than 1 gigawatt of early-stage to fully operational projects across the region


Dolphin Boat Goes Hybrid With BMW i3 Batteries + Sunflare Panels

January 31st, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

An operator of a custom dolphin observation boat has combined Sunflare solar panels with lithium-ion batteries for what may be the first charter vessel of it kind, says the Key West owner. Dubbed “The Squid,” the vessel was designed for tour operator Honest Eco by David Walworth, an MIT-educated boat designer and builder


Smart Solar Street Lights Spread With IoT Adoption

January 30th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The role of the once lonely street light has been heavily rewritten so that it now serves as a major information gateway, runs on solar power, and is sensing and reporting far more than you might imagine. Indeed, the global market for the smart street light is projected at $18 billion per year by 2024. While that number may sound hard to believe, the next time you drive under a carport or walk across an intersection, just look up


Latin American Solar Developer Atlas Renewable Energy Targets Brazil

January 29th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Atlas Renewable Energy has recently added Brazil to its portfolio of Latin American investment countries, with the start-up of the 67.1 megawatt São Pedro solar plant in Bom Jesus da Lapa, state of Bahia. Already holding a 1.2 gigawatt solar portfolio in Latin America, the second-largest in the region, the Miami-based group has built solar plants in Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay since it was formed in


Caribbean Island Bonaire Balances Solar, Wind, & Diesel With Storage

January 25th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Caribbean island Bonaire is adding a 6 megawatt energy storage system to help balance its solar and wind assets with backup diesel generators, opening up the potential for greater renewable penetration. Additional solar will expand on the 2015 pilot project that included close to 800 solar panels


Low-Income Solar Is The Goal Of 225 Megawatt New Jersey Community Solar Program

January 24th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

New Jersey has firmly embraced the concept of solar for all with its new 225 megawatt community solar program, within which 40% of all capacity is earmarked for low- and moderate-income consumers. The three-year pilot program was designed by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to serve up to 30,000 homes. The evolution of the project will determine the terms of the permanent program thereafter


Community Solar Specialists SunShare Break Through 100 Megawatts

January 23rd, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

SunShare has crossed the 100 megawatt mark for community solar projects it has developed, providing it with the largest active residential subscriber base among all developers in the country. While many community solar developers focus on one or more commercial anchor tenants and backfill demand with resident subscribers, SunShare finances, develops, and operates primarily all-residential community solar systems within its portfolio


Top 10 Global Solar Market Trends For 2019

January 22nd, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The top 10 trends in the 2019 global solar market include a skyrocketing jump in projected 2019 installations of up to 103.8 gigawatts, according to a new outlook by market analyst Wood Mackenzie


Arizona Unlocks Solar Rooftop Regulations

January 22nd, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Arizona has finally begun to loosen the regulatory shackles from solar hopefuls in the state, proposing new rules for installing solar, energy storage, and other clean energy systems. The Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC) filed a draft rulemaking on January 16, after studying interconnection standards for 13 years


San Diego Has Vast Solar Parking Lot Potential

January 18th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

San Diego has an untapped 500 megawatt solar potential at commercial sites within the city, with parking lots representing three-quarters of the total, according to a new survey by the Clean Coalition.


Nextracker Rolls Bifacial Solar Dice For 750 Megawatts

January 15th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

NEXTracker is currently involved in close to 750 megawatts of new bifacial solar tracker projects, following recent bank approval of the first utility-scale project with bifacial panels on its single-axis NX Horizon, says Dan Shugar, the founder of the company


Schletter Delivers “Most Stable” Solar Tracker

January 12th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The Schletter Group has emerged from its US unit’s bankruptcy earlier this year to begin delivering a new, more stable solar tracker to the North America, Asia, and Australia markets, with one recent sale in Zimbabwe. The company also is installing bifacial solar panels for the first time on its new tracker in Germany, says Christian Salzeder, the new chief sales officer for Schletter in Kirchdorf, Germany


Perovskite Solar Panel Tested On Skanska Building In Warsaw

January 8th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

The world’s first building-integrated field test of a one square meter perovskite solar panel, made by Saule Technologies, has just begun on Skanska’s Spark office in Warsaw, with a projected 5 cent per kilowatt-hour levelized cost of energy, according to Saule.


Rooftop Solar Curtailment To Ease With Refocused Hawaii Energy Contracts

January 7th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston

Hawaiian electric utilities have been forcefully de-linking residential rooftop solar generators at peak hours for several years, but the installation-discouraging practice may fade as refocused utility-scale solar+storage contracts come into effect. Beyond Hawaii, these new contract types, which shift curtailment risk away from the solar owner, also may help California avoid an increase in the curtailment of solar flowing onto its grid


Powerhouse 3.0 Solar Shingles Head To The Roof

December 28th, 2018 | by Charles W. Thurston

The snail-slow solar shingle race is moving once again, as Real Goods Solar accepts the first of its $127 million worth of Powerhouse preorders on December 27. The company also announced plans to ramp up production every quarter during 2019 toward a 5 megawatt annual capacity guarantee from its manufacturing partners. The announcement coincides with Tesla plans to ramp up its solar shingle production next year as well. May the best shingle prevail


The Solar Tracker Global Growth Rate Is Stunning

December 27th, 2018 | by Charles W. Thurston

The multi-billion dollar global demand for solar trackers is red hot, and expected to continue to glow red for at least the next five years, according to the latest market forecast. The global single-axis solar photovoltaic tracker market is expected to show a cumulative average growth rate of close to 28% during the period 2019-


Microgrid Cybersecurity Tightens With Standards Adoption

December 26th, 2018 | by Charles W. Thurston

Hackers targeting the electrical grid, your local utility, or the solar microgrid your home is linked into will have a harder time disrupting your electrons in the near future. Manufacturers of electronic equipment used in smart homes, in microgrids, and in utilities are beginning to adopt a set of cybersecurity standards set out by the Underwriters Laboratory. At the same time, manufacturer-sponsored test hacking is helping to drive more frequent —and more secure — firmware and software upgrades


Ormat Adopts Hybrid Solar+Geothermal Tech

December 26th, 2018 | by Charles W. Thurston

Ormat Technologies, the world leader in geothermal energy, is once again going hybrid, adding solar energy to a geothermal plants to raise efficiency and to boost income from the energy off-taker, Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA). The 18 megawatt photovoltaic solar installation will cover the geothermal plant’s parasitic, or operational energy consumption, freeing up power that SCPPA agreed last year to purchase at a hefty rate of $75.50/MW-hour



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