Solar 2021

Solar Advancements Track: Solar Economics

Session Moderator: Abraham Ellis

The economics of renewable technologies are often looked at from the perspective of Payback or Return of Investment (ROI) when Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is the true test. Like the “Test of Time”, LCA evaluates all inputs, outputs, costs and benefits over a system’s life. Presentations look at improving economic benefits and include Reliability of PV, enhanced aesthetics and increased efficiency of PV, drone technology’s impact on siting and managing systems, diluted chemical bath deposition of cadmium zinc sulfide (CdZnS) thin film and applying Automotive Assembly Line Efficiencies to Solar Project Development.


Aug 05 2021


10:45 am - 12:15 pm


Aspen Room East


  • Dirk Jordan
    Dirk Jordan

    Dirk Jordan is a Senior Reliability Engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and certified 6 Sigma Black Belt. He has been at NREL for 12 years and is an internationally known expert in PV reliability and performance lifetime. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in physics from Arizona State University and a bachelor in physics from the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
    Presentation Title: PV Reliability and Lifetime

    Presentation Description: Reliability is a vital component for the bankability of PV and its cost competitiveness with traditional energy sources. Understanding and minimizing performance degradation and system component failures is essential feedback to investors, installers and manufacturers. In this presentation we will discuss some of the latest results, address some of the more common misconceptions and provide recommendations to the PV community.

  • Grant Hilti
    Grant Hilti
    Heliospekt LLC

    Grant Hilti, Founder/CEO of Heliospekt, brings his decade of expertise building and operating UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to dramatically improve the performance, productivity, & efficiency of solar PV plants, reduce inspection times/costs, enhance monitoring and O&M through superior data capture & portfolio management, and improve worker safety for solar asset owners, managers, developers, and O&M contractors in the US and internationally.

    Heliospekt is a solar-dedicated consultancy deploying cutting-edge UAVs (drones) with multispectral cameras/sensors and sophisticated AI to conduct a wide range of advanced aerial inspections benefiting the entire PV plant lifecycle from planning/construction through O&M to decommissioning. Grant is a certified master thermographer and internationally-licensed UAV pilot whose consumer tech background underpins his flair for explaining tech applications with engaging and effective results.
    Presentation Title: Drone Solar Technology: A Game-Changer for PV Plant Performance, Cost Savings, and Safety

    Presentation Description: With solar’s rapid growth comes the unavoidable need to ensure new and aging PV plants alike operate at maximum efficiency and safety – especially as their lifetimes lengthen and installations deteriorate over time. Improperly-maintained plants pose serious hazards and can damage solar’s reputation as a safe, attractive renewable energy source for customers and investors.

    Drones/UAVs are a major solar advance delivering 98% time savings over manual inspections. Solar stakeholders will gain practical insights on how drone-enabled AI helps them save money and time, improve their assets’ productivity, reduce safety hazards and costly problem rectification, and manage their portfolios for better results.

  • Henry Vandermark
    Henry Vandermark
    Solar Wave Energy, Inc.

    Henry founded Solar Wave Energy in 1978 where he designed, installed and serviced solar thermal systems including site-built and factory-built collectors. He spent 30 years installing and servicing many types of solar hot water systems. He currently oversees the team that has built and operates , a web-based solar thermal monitoring platform designed to help installers optimize performance of solar thermal systems and provide reports for performance based incentives program, Thermal PPAs, and company fleets. Monitoring experience includes conventional flat-plate and evacuated tubes panels as well as hybrids (PV-Therms/PVT) panels combining thermal and electrical production.
    Presentation Title: Appropriate fit for a solar thermal, a renewable technology

    Presentation Description: Solar Thermal (Solar Heating & Cooling) technologies can satisfy a large portion of the country’s thermal energy requirements. Thermal loads of a building are complicated changing throughout the year. In order to optimize performance and ROI, systems need to match their load, which is more than just a simple number. It includes the quantify of energy at various temperatures throughout the year. System need to be designed to meet those changing temperatures. Examples of commercial and residential systems will show how performance changes throughout the year with various loads.

  • Spencer Fields
    Spencer Fields
    Manager of Market Strategy and Intelligence at EnergySage

    Spencer Fields joins us from EnergySage, the nation’s leading online solar marketplace, where he is the Manager of Market Strategy and Intelligence. Prior to joining EnergySage, Spencer spent five years as an environmental consultant for Synapse Energy Economics, splitting time between trying to convince utilities and system operators to improve their forecasting of renewable energy growth and analyzing the impact of the proposed Clean Power Plan. An eight year industry veteran and solar owner himself, Spencer taps into the perspective of those across the solar spectrum, from ISOs & utilities to manufacturers and from installers to home and business owners.

    Presentation Title: It’s not 2015 anymore: how solar shoppers have–and haven’t–evolved

    Presentation Description: In 2015, EnergySage surveyed thousands of solar shoppers across the country to ask about their interest in and knowledge of solar. What was their motivation to research solar? How (and where) did they shop? And what were the key factors that influenced their decision on solar? Five years later, EnergySage fielded another, very similar survey to see what’s changed: how have solar shoppers evolved since 2015? This session will pull from responses from thousands of solar shoppers and adopters to answer the question: who are today’s solar shoppers and how do they shop? Spoiler alert: it’s online.

  • Tom Thompson
    Tom Thompson
    Solaria Corporation

    Tom Thompson is vice president of sales at Solaria Corporation. With over three decades in the renewable and conventional energy industries, Tom has held senior management positions in the private sector, as a regulator, in the utility industry, as a manufacturer and in the not-for-profit arena. Previously, Tom was VP at LONGI Solar Technology US, Inc., and prior to that, USA Sales Team Leader at JA Solar (2014 – 16). Tom served as President of NYSEIA, and currently serves on the Board of NYSES. Tom Thompson is a solar industry spokesperson and an advocate for a 100% renewable energy vision.

    Presentation Title: The importance of enhanced aesthetics and increased efficiency in spurring solar deployment

    Presentation Description: Solar installers, system owners, buyers, developers, and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) professionals will benefit from this presentation. So will anyone who has interest and appreciation of enhancements in solar’s value and aesthetics. As solar costs drop, shifting dynamics in PV deployment have come to the fore, especially in the residential sector. There’s a shift from leasing to owning. A shift from viewing solar as a commodity — to a greater emphasis on highly efficient, aesthetic panels. Today’s high efficiency modules now produce significant improvements in power density and affordability, which has tremendous significance for space-constrained residential roofs.

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