SepiSolar came, SepiSolar saw, SepiSolar celebrated! If you missed Intersolar North America 2018, here are some visual highlights from our time at the show!
We had some terrific meetings with SepiSolar customers, friends, and fellow solar+storage advocates. If you missed us at Intersolar, contact us to meet up in person in Fremont or at Solar Power International in September!
Not every solar company needs to be outsourcing solar engineering and design, but Josh comments on why quality design firms can be the most efficient and cost-effective solar service solutions for many solar contractors, developers, and EPCs.
SepiSolar engineers aren’t just NABCEP solar+storage design experts, they’re also requirements experts, producing designs that meet the detailed requirements of of any AHJ or utility across the U.S.
“What makes SepiSolar different from other solar design and engineering services?”
Since founding SepiSolar nearly 10 years ago, those have been the most frequent questions I’ve been asked when people hear about SepiSolar. If you’re learning about us for the first time, or you’ve been a customer and wondered about those same topics, here’s the story:
“What Does the SepiSolar name mean?”
The short answer is that while searching for a name, I discovered that “Sepideh” is a Persian name that is often shortened to “Sepi.” Roughly translated, Sepi means “the moment just before the first light of dawn.” In other words, every morning, anywhere in the world, light and energy emerge and grow from Sepi.
In the same way, solar projects begin with solar design, and all of the clean power that is later generated emerges out of the plan sets that our designers and engineers create.
The Sepi “emerging light and power” concept also suggests infinite clean power generation. Even through the darkest solar coaster times, the sun always rises, and more plans for solar and storage are continually being generated for our customers. Moreover, our engineers are continually thinking about how to improve solar and storage technology, policies,business processes and grid models. The clean energy innovation never stops.
“How did SepiSolar get started?”
I founded SepiSolar in 2008, but my solar career started in 2004 with Andalay Solar (fka Akeena Solar). As one of the first national solar installation companies in the U.S., I learned a lot about the internal operations of a large engineering department, and realized there was a huge need for third-party independent design and engineering services to help growing solar companies during certain seasons, as well as for solar product development.
My vision was that SepiSolar would not only provide extra help to solar contractors with a high volume of designs and plan sets, but that we could also fill in the gaps for structural or PV electrical engineering needs that may be outside of the company’s core competencies, such as architecture firms or commercial building contractors.
I also wanted SepiSolar to be extremely flexible so that we could deliver a full menu of on-demand, seasonal or ongoing solar design and engineering services, such as installation feasibility evaluations, sales-focused drawings for proposals, P.E. stamps, product evaluations, or even develop salesforce modules for tracking inventory and the paperwork for projects.
With that flexible full-service mindset, SepiSolar has grown to become a leading national design and engineering company with a team of NABCEP certified designers and engineers working out of our Fremont, California offices, not overseas.
“What makes SepiSolar different from other engineering or design firms?”
I think of SepiSolar as a community of passionate “solar enginerds.” Everyone here looks at design and engineering through the lens of the entire solar and storage value chain. We don’t just draft line diagrams and crank out plan sets. For some design firms, that’s where the service starts and ends, but for SepiSolar, our services include our community of knowledge about the latest solar and storage technologies, policies, manufacturer relationships, and our experience with AHJs around the U.S. and abroad.
As a community of engineers, we’re also great communicators with each other and our clients. We regularly share information and complement each engineer’s knowledge base. And while some firms may chain their engineers to CAD monitors with MC4 connection cables, our SepiSolar engineers can also act as independent engineering consultants, visiting solar project sites, ensuring quality, improving O&M or troubleshooting commissioning. We also consult with manufacturers, developers, asset managers and storage companies, providing the entire SepiSolar team with a comprehensive and continuous feedback loop of information from all over the solar industry.
In addition to formal consulting, our designers also informally consult with clients at the start of every project. During these calls, we take into consideration the company’s preferences and various skill sets. For example, a roofer who installs solar may feel comfortable drilling holes into a commercial rooftop but prefer microinverters for simpler electrical work. Similarly, an electrician may be very comfortable with optimized string inverters, but prefer a ballasted roof design to avoid roofing issues.
Naturally, there’s much more to tell about how SepiSolar grew over the last 10 years and why we’re so passionate about everything we do. Perhaps the best way to learn more is to set up a free consultation with me or just get a quote for your next solar or storage project. You can also join our SepiSolar community by simply following us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, or joining our mailing list. Please reach out for any questions or comments.
My fellow solar designers and engineers, make no mistake: We have been and will continue to be an important part of the world’s transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to a world that will be powered by interconnected and networked solar, wind, storage and integrated micro-grids. For those of you who don’t know what you’re getting into, welcome to the renewable revolution and hold on; it’ll be a bumpy ride! For those of you who already know the solar coaster, congratulations and thanks for your contributions! But … our contributions are far from over.
Energy analysts say that our full transition is inevitable, and that clean energy destiny can be accelerated by innovation, efficiency and improved designs, or just as easily decelerated by flawed, fossil-fuel biased or outdated policies, soft costs and careless designs that lead to bad publicity and damaged customers.
My fellow technical subject matter experts, you and I both know that such a transition is impossible without the minds and efforts of professionals like us doing our part. The sort of work we do is based on sound and well-understood scientific principles of math, engineering and technology.
Having studied these materials for quite some time, we know the power they can bring, as well as our responsibility to accelerate them—we are in a unique position to leverage these principles and the tools our industry has developed in order to make them ubiquitous and accessible to all through more streamlined and easy-to-use products and services.
Newton’s first law of physics states: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Similarly, I would say that the U.S. is transitioning toward 100% renewable energy at the same speed and direction that, while positive in direction, is not moving at a speed that will mitigate the worst effects of climate change, let alone pollution and its health effects.
Consequently, we need an unbalanced force to accelerate that transition, and my fellow solar designers and engineers, that unbalanced force can be you and me. We have the technical ability to accelerate solar + storage adoption and reduce its costs through better and more efficient designs, advocating for better policies, and combining our engineering thoughts. The more we can share best practices, surface the sometimes-nuanced and subtle policy roadblocks that slow our work, and educate policymakers and AHJs throughout the U.S. who are just beginning to see an interest in solar and storage, the faster solar and storage will be deployed and make a difference.
In short, engineers and designers must do our part and lead with our ideas and technical abilities, as well as contribute ideas to changing codes and standards. (Wouldn’t it be nice to one day actually have a truly national solar code?)
It’s for this reason we’re rededicating this SepiSolar blog to sharing solar and storage design and engineering best practices. We also know that this must be a collective effort, so we are opening our blog forum to any solar designer or engineer who also wants to share best practices and thought leadership toward our energy transition.
To contribute your thoughts, please email your posts to email@example.com. As long as it’s useful information (under 1000 words plus any related images, please) that helps to forward thought leadership on design, engineering or permitting for solar, energy storage or the grid, we’d love to publish it here, as well as share it on our social networks and email list. You’ll be fully credited—regardless of which company you happen to work for. From our perspective, solar designers and engineers are not competing against each other, we are competing against fossil fuels, dirty energy, apathy and current policies that stagnate our industry’s growth.
Veteran solar marketer aims to streamline permitting and utility interconnection through more
effective communications about solar + storage design and engineering
FREMONT, Calif.–¬ February 05, 2018 – Noted solar marketing and communications thought leader Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza has joined SepiSolar, a national design and engineering firm specializing in solar, energy storage and solar micro-grids, as its director of marketing. Valenza will focus on promoting SepiSolar’s efforts to streamline solar, storage and micro-grid permitting through more effective communications and collaboration with contractors, utility companies, and local permitting departments.
“Nothing is more frustrating to solar and energy storage contractors and owners than needlessly delayed permitting and interconnection,” said Valenza. “The way to streamline permitting is more effective communications about best practices for contractors as well as the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). I joined SepiSolar because it’s genuinely dedicated to building a community of solar designers and engineers who want to get design plans approved and interconnected faster and with less hassle. To do that, we’ll be creating educational content and streamlined design processes that help everyone understand the requirements and design best practices.”
Valenza joins a growing team of full-time solar and storage designers and engineers led by SepiSolar’s CEO Joshua Weiner, who began his career at Akeena Solar in 2006 and went on to consult with Green Charge Networks and direct the engineering department of NRG Home. He founded SepiSolar in 2008, providing design and engineering services to solar developers, EPCs, owner-operators, residential contractors, policymakers, and energy storage companies.
“We’re very excited to have Tor on board at SepiSolar,” said Weiner. “As solar and storage expand across the U.S., designers and engineers need to become better communicators and collaborators with contractors and the AHJs, especially as new storage technologies and micro-grids become more popular. Tor’s solar marketing and public relations experience will allow us to share valuable information that will enable solar and energy storage contractors and developers to expedite the permitting process, reducing interconnection delays and soft costs.”
“Now that storage systems are here to stay, Tor and the SepiSolar team will work hard to advocate for solar + storage-friendly policies with local utilities; participate on technical code committees; and continue to monitor, track, and aggregate all requirements necessary to get these types of systems installed and interconnected, all on behalf of our great customers,” he added.
Valenza is a longtime solar marketer who has provided marketing services to tier-one solar brands since 2008. Prior to joining SepiSolar, he was CMO of Solar at the cleantech public relations agency Impress Labs, which recently merged to become Kiterocket, where he served as senior strategy advisor. He’s also known for his solar marketing and advocacy blogs in various solar publications and for his semiannual Tweetups at Intersolar North America and Solar Power International. Valenza is sometimes known as “Solar Fred,” due to his @SolarFred Twitter handle, where he comments and shares the day’s solar industry news with over 16,000 followers.
Founded in 2008, SepiSolar provides NABCEP-certified solar design, engineering and consulting services for the solar PV, energy storage and micro-grid markets. With over 8,500 designs for residential, commercial and utility projects, solar contractors and developers trust SepiSolar’s engineers to design PV and energy storage systems that meet prevailing national and local requirements, including NEC, UL, local AHJs, utility. EPCs and developers also count on SepiSolar for solar and energy storage cash flow analysis, and designing systems for new products, site constraints, customer requirements, and any applicable financing models. At SepiSolar, we speak Code and Interconnection Policy so you don’t have to. Visit this link for our complete list of solar design and engineering services.