September 8, 2023

Why does technology seem to move so fast, yet so slow at the same time? At this point, you’ve probably seen articles hyping up how tomorrow’s technology is being innovated at lighting speeds. If you have, it always seems like new technology is on track to disrupt and transform your life as you know it, yet you feel like you only experience a slight impact in your day-to-day life.

The reason for this is because of the relationship between technology and regulation. Here’s how it usually breaks down:

  • Technology moves quickly; regulation moves slowly
  • Technology innovates; regulation standardizes
  • Technology is private; regulation is public
  • Technology makes things cheaper; regulation makes things more expensive

The bottom line is this – we need to get technology and regulation to cohesively come together, and we need to understand that we’ll be met with errors along the way. Sure, technology evolves to make our lives better, but anything new always comes with risk. Regulation steps in to help new technologies progress, but with concern for public safety taken into consideration.

This push and pull between technology and regulation is simply the price of human progress. Even though sometimes our innovations get ahead of us from a regulatory standpoint, we need to bridge this gap to usher in the sparkling promises of the future.

Technologists and Regulators Need to Learn Together

The first step is to understand that everything is always a learning process. As new technologies make it to market, we learn how they work and what causes them to fail. Even though learning is essential, we start running into problems when these failures cause the loss of life or property. And when this happens, regulators (understandably) get more involved.

Let’s take lithium batteries for example. Although there are several benefits of these batteries, we’ve also learned that they can cause scooters to explode in people’s apartments, reignite automotive fires, and lead to lung damage. But technology isn’t the only risk-generating component; regulators make their own mistakes as well.

For instance, the lack of differentiation between regulatory bodies leads to both over and under-regulation of key risks. To give you an example, failure to distinguish between toxic and non-toxic chemicals in different flow battery chemistries can cause less expensive technologies to become more expensive. Without cohesive regulatory standards in place, we risk driving up cost with no added benefit to public health or safety.

When you consider both sides, it becomes apparent that we need a balance between technological innovation and regulatory standards.

How We’ve Solved Real-World Regulation Challenges

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that we have first-hand experience with this balancing act. In the early 2010s, we were hired to electrify a rental car company’s fleet at a prominent east coast airport. Because SepiSolar was one of the first to permit a grid-connected lithium battery system, we knew that obtaining that permit was going to be tough.

The reason was because we were installing batteries to add to the site’s electrical capacity. With this airport, we had to factor in the 100-year-old copper wires underneath the city. And as you can imagine, ripping them all out wasn’t an option.

By using a solar battery, we were able to charge the airport’s EVs without adding strain on the grid. However, the regulations for the time didn’t mention anything about lithium batteries. At that moment, we knew that regulators and code books had a lot of catching up to do.

Yes, we successfully electrified the car company’s fleet, but a lot of learning took place in the process.

In this case, our system included a main service panel with a 400 Amp (A) service feed from the utility company into a 400 A service and distribution panel. To electrify the fleet, we needed to add an additional 100 A to charge all the EV chargers.

Since we couldn’t increase the 400 A service from the utility company (without setting the city on fire, apparently), we increased the panel from 400 to 600 A and added a new 100 A circuit breaker from a battery to supply the new EVs. Now to charge the battery, we also had to install a 100 A solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

At this point, we had a 600 A service panel, 500 A of load, 100 A of battery and 100 A of PV, which became a lot of power flowing in different directions. If you’ve ever worked with regulators before, it definitely raises an inspector’s eyebrows to see 600 A worth of load and 600 A worth of supply all being controlled by a computer. They start asking the big questions, like what happens if the energy management system gets hacked? And what happens if the PV and battery fail?

To make this work, we teamed up with city regulators to design and build the lithium battery containerized product. We also tailored the entire project to the relevant standards and intentions behind the health and safety codes that existed at this time. The end result was an out-of-the-box approach to code and standards development that ensured all project requirements and stakeholder concerns were properly addressed.

To learn more about we’ve closed gaps between regulations and new battery technology, check out our Net Energy Metering white paper.

How We’re Preparing for Tomorrow’s Regulations

As we mentioned a previous blog we’re seeing the next phase of infrastructure planning start to take shape when it comes to Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Heliports might not be new, but landing a flying car on them most definitely is.

Regarding eVTOLs, SepiSolar led the development of the first skyport permit application in the US. Throughout the process, we learned about Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations, heliport construction processes, and best practices, which increased our appreciation for the role that regulators play. Regulators come armed with knowledge of the prevailing local, state, and federal codes. Not only that, but their technical competency also allows them to address risks and weigh them against the benefits eVTOL consumers will enjoy.

Because of this combined, mutual effort between technology and regulation, we can look forward to the future that eVTOLs will unveil. In a few years, a two-hour commute can turn into a five-minute ride, after permitting and siting considerations are accounted for.

For projects bringing innovation and safety together, SepiSolar has the creative engineers from Silicon Valley (and the licensed professional engineers who govern safety) who know how to get it done.


September 1, 2023

When you think of a regular carport, you probably picture a glorified roof. Nothing special or remarkable, just another roof and a few columns that wouldn’t spark a second thought.

But what if we told you that these seemingly-basic structures can (and should) be used to charge EVs? With a well-thought-out solar mounting system, any business with an outdoor parking lot can use the sun to its full advantage, thereby reducing energy costs associated with EV charging.

As EV adoption continues to skyrocket year over year, having available charging stations is becoming more important than ever. With EV ownership expecting to soar to 35% this year, now is the time to think about boosting your business’s charging capacity.

So, if solar-powered carports are on your mind, here’s what you need to consider before you start building to ensure the success of your project.

Foundation Engineering

For most parking lots, a soil analysis or civil survey was completed at some point to detail the specifications of the parking lot. Depending on how recent that analysis took place, it could be useful data for optimizing the carport’s foundation. With this information, your engineering team can help minimize the quantity and size of the columns needed for the carports. This is important because adding unnecessary columns can drive up the overall materials cost.

At SepiSolar, we coordinate this with our civil and geotechnical subcontractors to make sure the structural and electrical elements are working together right from the beginning. We make sure your solar carport is scaled and engineered properly without any unneeded costs, saving you time and headaches in the process.

Lighting and Photometrics

In California, Title 24 and outdoor lighting requirements make photometric analysis a necessity for carport projects. The last thing you want is to be almost through with building your carport, only to find that it’s not up to code. When this happens, you waste time and money backtracking when you could otherwise be moving forward. The photometric analysis process is critical for understanding how light impacts its surrounding space, and failure to address it can lead to accidents in the parking lot. For this reason, photometric analysis should always be done before erecting the carport structure.

SepiSolar routinely delivers photometric analyses so your carport is fully in compliance. We love designing the generation and the load sides of our projects in tandem, because we excel at making the two seamlessly come together.

Architectural Services

Parking lots are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To meet ADA standards, we often need to relocate parking spaces and develop striping plans that accommodate access. In California specifically, each space needs to be 18 feet long by 9 feet wide, with the access aisle on the passenger side. In addition, long distances to building entrances, unpaved traveling paths, and the omission of ramps can bring your carport out of compliance.

At SepiSolar, we believe that everyone deserves universal access to clean, green, renewable electricity, so be sure not to overlook these key details.

EV Charging

When the solar generation, battery, and EVs are all located in the same vicinity, you can get cost savings you would otherwise miss if you didn’t fully plan through the solar layout, demand charge requirements, and EV charger locations. By making sure all of this is properly accounted for, you can set your carport up for long term success.

In our experience, we regularly see developers and engineering, procurement, and construction teams overlook important aspects of these systems. If you want to sleep well at night knowing no requirement, standard, or consideration was missed, SepiSolar has the expertise to get the job done right.


August 1, 2023

When you picture the distant future, do flying cars come to mind? If so, floating your car above rush hour traffic might be closer than you realize.

This past June, Alef Aeronautics broke major ground for the future of EV transportation. The company made history and solidified itself as the first to get permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test its flying electric car, both on land and in air. This leap forward puts us one step closer to flying cars in real life.

With cars now being tested in the sky, the bottleneck for commercializing these cars, otherwise known as Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles, is no longer the cars themselves – it’s the charging infrastructure. Before we can soar through cities, we need to make sure eVTOLs can stay up and running.

Charging Challenges

In a nutshell, we can think of these eVTOLs as EVs on steroids. EVTOLs have larger batteries than regular EVs, but despite their larger batteries, they need to be charged more quickly and more frequently. For context, a typical eVTOL can only travel between 100 and 150 miles on a single charge. That’s about the same distance as Los Angeles to Palm Springs, or from Fremont to Sacramento. This means that to make these flights affordable, we need to fly them often, and we need to fly them efficiently.

To give you a bit more detail, every eVTOL with a typical 300 kWh battery pack needs a 1.5 MW charger just to recharge in 15 minutes. That’s a lot of demand charges, and yes battery project developers, we’re looking at you. We need you now more than ever.

Even with all of this considered, the amount of power needed to charge an eVTOL opens its own set of issues. Utility companies are already struggling to meet the charging demand of standard EVs, so accommodating eVTOLs will only be more daunting. While some eVTOL companies plan to handle this by calling the utility companies, paying a high rate, and hoping for the best, it’s not a feasible, long-term solution.

What’s Next?

While a practical way around eVTOL battery range and power challenges doesn’t exist quite yet, eVTOLs can become a commercial possibility if we streamline the charging process. Because eVTOLs need such frequent charging, the path forward is to charge them as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Creating an ideal charging experience will require a combination of batteries, utility grids, and renewable sources. In addition, eVTOLs will require microgrid controls that bridge the gap between their charging needs and the utility companies. This will provide an extra layer of resiliency in case the utility grid goes dark.

We know this works, because we’ve been addressing similar infrastructure problems since our founding in 2010.
One key highlight was our work with a major rental car company. The company wanted to electrify its vehicle fleet at a large east coast airport, but the high cost of energy (kWh), demand (kW), and utility grid capacity stood in its way.

Taking this into consideration, we provided a battery system that mitigated demand charges, as well as a PV system that reduced energy charges and recharged the battery system. By doing this, we enabled the rental car company to electrify its fleet in a way that was cost effective and sustainable.

Because of how we approached this situation, the company didn’t need to pay its regional utility company to upgrade its distribution feeders, nor did it have to pay for high energy and demand costs related to its EV charging systems.

We’ve been solving EV charging challenges for the last 13 years, and we’re well positioned to break barriers for eVTOLs in 2023 and beyond.

The Future of eVTOLs

Transportation and energy infrastructure have already been converging to provide back-up power, vehicle-to-grid services and vehicle charging for regular EVs. We see this with home garages that are taking the place of gas stations, but eVTOLs have their own considerations. Not only are they too big for residential, but the FAA will need to regulate them to ensure they have the proper aviation infrastructure and certifications.

SepiSolar has already done the work of researching the FAA requirements and codes to design and engineer heliports and landing pads for the eVTOLs of the future. We solved the problems of EV charging when demand charge managing batteries didn’t exist, and solar integration was at risk due to utility curtailment issues.

With eVTOLs on the horizon, SepiSolar is providing value-added engineering services to help bridge the gaps that currently exist between eVTOLs, renewables, energy storage, and the utility grid. Take advantage of our expertise, and let us support your skyport and vertiport projects.


July 21, 2023

California AB 2143 – the widely talked-about legislation within the California solar industry – will go into effect on January 2024. This controversial bill requires prevailing wages for all construction workers involved in commercial and non-residential solar projects.

Signed in September 2022, this bill comes with apparent consequences for noncompliance. Most notably, it allows California’s major Investor-Owned Utilities to deny Net Energy Metering (NEM) to such systems if prevailing wages aren’t paid. This can result in significant cost increases to these systems, which in turn, reduces the number of systems that would be financially viable. To ensure compliance, contractors will need to submit payroll records twice per year to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

With just over five months until the bill goes into effect, let’s take some time to solidify your next steps.

As a Contractor, what are my Options?

Option 1 – Just pay the higher wages

While this may be the most obvious solution, we know that higher interest rates are already making it more difficult to get a reasonable rate of return. On top of that, higher wages will reduce the number of available projects. If your company is working on a commercial or large-scale project that won’t be completed before end of year, it could be time to start planning for increased wages if an alternate solution isn’t feasible.

Option 2— Emphasize selling and installing residential systems

This could be a great option for businesses that can pivot easily, but this approach still comes with its drawbacks. First, working with residential homeowners requires more warehousing, a greater commitment to customer service, and a much larger sales team. Second, the rush to residential could become a popular strategic decision, making the market even more saturated.
Although some companies will surely benefit from this approach, this isn’t a blanket solution.

Option 3 – Sell and install systems that aren’t enrolled in Net Energy Metering

With AB 2143 looming in the background, coupled with the recent shift to NEM 3.0, it’s clear that the CPUC wants to halt new solar PV installations. But despite government efforts, renewable energy isn’t going away – it will only continue to grow.

To learn how to maximize solar savings under NEM 3.0, check out our previous blog.

As the new bill goes into effect, the logical next step is to focus on energy storage. With NEM 3.0’s reduced daytime credits and AB 2143’s prevailing wage requirements, systems will benefit from being predominately self-consuming. This means the solar PV will get used immediately or stored in a battery, but it won’t go back on the grid. The battery will also be used to meet the building’s power needs until it runs out, and this cycle will repeat daily.

In a future blog post, we’ll compare different strategies to address energy storage.

Conclusion: Setting Yourself up for Success

Now more than ever, the clearest path to renewable energy is through storage. At SepiSolar, we’ve consistently found that sales strategies focused on solar and storage combined are the most effective for navigating California’s ever-changing solar energy industry.

With 13+ years of experience in designing microgrids, we also understand the unique engineering challenges that are inherent these systems. This is because we excel at combining technologies like solar PV, energy storage, electric vehicles, and hydrogen and fuel-based generators to create complex microgrids that meet customer requirements.

As the future of solar unfolds, we help our customers thrive through the changes.

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