GAF Energy invests in integrated solar rooftops, adds US manufacturing jobs

“It’s all about “American jobs, getting the facility in place, hiring locally and promoting U.S. solar.”

Eric Wesoff11 May 2021, https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/gaf-energy-growing-integrated-solar-rooftops-and-us-manufacturing-jobs/

GAF Energy invests in integrated solar rooftops, adds US manufacturing jobs

Last week, we reported that GAF Energy (part of GAF, one of the world’s largest roofing companies) has installed over 2,000 integrated solar roofs — more deployments than the higher-profile Tesla has managed to pull off for its solar roof product.

There’s more news from GAF Energy this week, with the company announcing a new 112,000-square-foot research and manufacturing facility in San Jose, California for its building-integrated photovoltaic roof.

“This is a furtherance of our commitment to the solar roof. We have a $50 million commitment for our first manufacturing facility in the United States, capable of producing 50 megawatts of product [per year],” according to Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, in recent interviews with Canary Media.

It’s all about “American jobs and California jobs, getting the facility in place, hiring locally and promoting U.S. solar,” said DeBono. When ramped up to full capacity, the facility could support as many as 350 jobs across construction, manufacturing, and research and development.  

DeBono added, “The CEOs of [GAF parent] Standard Industry are going to invest a billion dollars in building technology.”

“Our mission is energy from every roof, starting with composite shingle roofs,” said DeBono. “We expect exponential growth from this industry. As [building-integrated PV] products become easier to install and as the roofing channel becomes more familiar with offering the solar value proposition, we expect to see growth rates much higher than 20 percent and 30 percent.”

Something you might not know about GAF Energy: “We’re one of the top 10 tax equity investors in the United States.” Its dedicated 12-person team invests “a considerable amount” in commercial finance. “We’re able to provide commercial roof owners options to improve their roof, not…just on their materials; [we also] advise them on what solar” to select.  

Roofers want to roof

“Roofers want to roof. We have rectangular kits, [so] roofers can effectively send us a picture of the home and we’ll be able to send them the exact number of rectangular tiles they can put on it. Those are prepackaged at our warehouse for quick turnaround time. The homeowner and the roofing partner get the benefit and the improved economics of only having onecrew on the roof,” DeBono said in a previous interview.

GAF Energy’s integrated solar roof

GAF Energy’s “direct-to-deck” solar modules are integrated into the roof. The company uses a 60-cell, 360-watt laminate from Solaria with a custom frame that allows it to be waterproof with a lower profile and faster installation. SolarEdge optimizers are the standard electronics offering.  

A standard kit is 12 panels situated in a four-panel by three-panel layout with 4.2 kilowatts of capacity. You can get a different size installation, as long as it totals 4.2 kilowatts (or multiples thereof).

GAF’s solar roof

The roof will pay for itself within the warranted life of the product, according to DeBono, who added, “You have the backing of GAF, a 100-year old company and largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer in North America.”

Customer acquisition is, remarkably, the most expensive part of a residential solar system, costing far more per watt than the solar panels themselves. According to DeBono, customer-acquisition costs for roofers equate to about 1/100th of what solar companies typically shell out. He claims that roofing acquisition costs are “about $50, maybe $100. Anywhere from 1% to 5% acquisition costs compared to a solar company.”

“Over the last 20 years, the way solar panels have been attached to a roof hasn’t changed. When you install a traditional rack-mounted system, which has between 68 and 100 half-inch penetrations, you’re effectively cutting a 6 [inch] by 6 [inch] hole in the roof, with lag bolts drilled through the water barrier in the hope that you’ll find a rafter,” DeBono said. However, he added, “I believe this will change over time. By integrating solar with the roofing, you’re going to ensure the integrity of the home.”

“The industry will evolve from rack-mounted to building-integrated PV,” said DeBono.

Americans want solar on their homes. Even in a pandemic year, residential solar deployment in the U.S. was up 11 percent over 2019, reaching a record 3.1 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.  

In addition to GAF Energy and Tesla, there are a number of building-integrated PV designers and installers operating today, including ArteZanosAtumCertainTeedForwardHeliatekLumetaSunTegraUbiquitous Energy and Viridian Solar.

GAF Energy will shift solar roof production from Asia to Silicon Valley

Also on the rise: More community solar comes to Colorado, battery energy storage will support Dominica’s grid via a UAE international development fund, and Carbon Neutral Energy says ‘howdy’ to Texas.MAY 11, 2021 DAVID WAGMAN https://www.pv-magazine.com/press-releases/fronius-gen24-plus-is-among-the-worlds-most-sustainable-inverters/ ENERGY STORAGE, MARKETS, MODULES & UPSTREAM MANUFACTURING, RESIDENTIAL PV, NORTH AMERICA

Image: GAF Energy

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GAF Energy said it plans to move its manufacturing out of Asia to a new facility in California as it develops technology to integrate solar panels with roof shingles.

Components for GAF Energy’s building-integrated solar products are produced in South Korea, but manufacturing will be moved to a renovated 112,000-squre-foot San Jose, California, factory later this year.

The facility will employ about 400 people in manufacturing, engineering, and research and development, and be capable of producing about 50 MW of solar panels a year.

GAF Energy reportedly expects to benefit from reduced risks associated with offshore production, including tariffs on Asian-made solar goods and rising transportation costs.

GAF Energy launched in 2019 and is a unit of Standard Industries, a privately held global industrial company. GAF has installed its product on more than 2,000 U.S. rooftops.

More community solar for Colorado

Pivot Energy and Standard Solar are developing three new community solar projects in Colorado with a total capacity of 4 MW.

One megawatt of the portfolio is dedicated to serving low-income subscribers. The remaining 3 MW have been subscribed to by local municipalities and organizations. Pivot Energy developed and built the solar gardens and will provide customer management services. Standard Solar will finance, own, and maintain the systems.

Two solar gardens, located in Garfield County in west central Colorado, will come online in June 2021. The third project, located just west of Denver in Jefferson County, will be energized later this summer.

Energy storage system for Dominica

A $50 million hurricane-resistant battery energy storage system is coming to the Caribbean island of Dominica through an investment by the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund. The project includes a 5 MW/2.5 MWh battery energy storage system.

The system is intended to stabilize the electricity grid and deliver reserve power and frequency control to the extreme weather-prone nation.

Dominica is building a 7 MW geothermal plant to help drive the country’s energy mix to 51% renewables. One government program enables foreign investors to obtain Dominica’s citizenship in exchange for a $100,000 investment to the Economic Diversification Fund, or $200,000 into pre-approved luxury real estate that supports Dominica’s ecotourism.

Dominica uses the investments for energy security, infrastructure, and housing as it aims to be one of the world’s first climate-resilient nations, as pledged by the government after Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017.

The UAE-CREF initiative is financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the UAE’s national entity for international development aid. The fund is a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Masdar, which is leading project design and implementation. In March 2019, the first three renewable energy projects were inaugurated.

Carbon Neutral opens Texas office

Carbon Neutral Energy is opening a U.S. office in Texas, two months after launching in the UK. The company is pursuing market opportunities for mobile energy storage systems, which it said could help prevent emergencies like the loss of power in Texas earlier this year.

CNE uses mobile, modular energy storage systems with battery storage from 1 MW to 5 MW to address inadequacy in power infrastructure. The company also has launched a £300m ($424.5 million) fundraising effort.