SunPower Helps U.S. Military Double Down on Renewable Energy

As the nation is thinking about its military forces this Memorial Day, we want to salute the many branches of our armed forces that are embracing renewable energy to increase autonomy and reduce costs.

U.S. Department of Defense, the single largest energy consumer in the world, has embraced clean energy sources in recent years, doubling its renewable power generation between 2011 and 2015. That means the military is producing enough clean energy to power the equivalent of about 286,000 average homes, the Defense Department says.

SunPower has installed, and is under contract to install, more than 100 megawatts of solar power at 33 federal government project sites.

Take Vandenberg Air Force base near Lompoc, Calif. We just broke ground there on a 28-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system. Once completed, it’s expected to be the largest behind-the-meter solar power system in the Air Force, meaning 100 percent of the energy it produces will be consumed on site. It will produce about 53,000 megawatt hours each year – about 35 percent of Vandenberg’s energy needs.

Other significant SunPower® solar military projects include:

Military Solar Panels Increase Security

The goal here? Like many government institutions facing tight budget times, the military is interested in maximizing its resources.

PV solar power allows them to do just that. Here’s one example. Soldiers have to haul diesel fuel to run the generators needed to power their equipment and forward bases in areas without access to conventional electricity.

The convoys trucking in that fuel are always at risk of being attacked in combat situations. But now soldiers can pop up a PV system to charge their equipment, meaning fewer convoys are needed, helping troops avoid unnecessary risks. Also, the solar energy those arrays are generating is free, saving the military – and taxpayers – billions of dollars over time.

The future continues to indicate a clean energy policy for the military, with more branches adopting the net zero strategy. The Defense Department’s goal is to consume 3,000 megawatts from renewable sources by 2025.

SunPower looks forward to helping to make that a reality, and we’re excited this year to be joining this week’s Society of American Military Engineers 2017 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo in Columbus, Ohio. There we’ll be meeting uniformed service members, private sector engineers and government civilians to share the latest about our SunPower® Oasis®and SunPower® Helix™ solar solutions as well as our solar energy storage options.

Battery Storage For Commercial Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Systems

In the last few years, commercial battery storage technology has advanced rapidly making solar battery storage a practical option for many organizations.

This video explains how to lower electricity costs using battery storage to reduce utility demand charges. Renewable energy like Sunpower solar panels  and commercial battery storage solution might make sense for your organization.

Demand Charges Explained:

Knowing how your electric use is billed and how your demand and energy charges are calculated will help you understand and manage your total energy costs.


Understanding the energy charge Energy charge is the calculation of the amount of electricity kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed during the billing period.

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Each of the ten light bulbs above uses 100 watts of electricity. If all ten are lit for one hour, they will have consumed one kWh of electricity: 10 light bulbs x 100 watts x one hour = 1,000 watt-hours (1 kWh) Your meter records the amount of energy used on-peak and off-peak.

Understanding the demand charge


Demand is the rate at which you consume electricity – or the amount needed to power your business at any given point in time. Your demand charges are based on the highest level of electricity supplied at one time during the billing period and at the time of day it’s needed by your business. A single light bulb demands 100 watts of electricity at any given moment. In the energy charge example, the ten light bulbs demanded 1,000 watts (1 kW) of electricity to operate.

Understanding the energy charges on your bill

Your bill will indicate how much energy was used on-peak, we will use the time frame between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday – Friday, as peak in our example. We’ll use the hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Monday – Friday, weekends and designated holidays as off-peak. Most all utilities designate weekends and holidays as off peak.

Understanding the demand charges on your bill

You will see demand charges appear as two separate charges on your bill. The first is the On-peak demand charge, this charge is applicable to your peak time frame in addition to your peak rates. You will also see Off-peak demand charges and Off peak rates as well. Most utilities use a 15-minute interval as a period of time to measure your highest level of demand usage. This is when you use the most electric power to run your equipment, lights, etc. During the on-peak time period, in our example, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays you get charged an incrementally higher rate. This charge applies only to the rate or volume of electricity your purchase during the peak time frame.

The purpose of your solar electricity and battery system is to discharge your battery during your peak load time frame. This will allow you to eliminate or significantly reduce your demand fees and lower your electricity bill.

Call today at 480-636-0321 to learn how Sunpower solar systems and battery backup can save your business money on your electricity bill.


Sunpower Solar Carports and Solar Canopies

Solar carports also known as “solar canopies” are an increasingly popular type of onsite commercial solar installation. These versatile structures offer features that provide more than just long term energy savings including covered parking, solar parking lot lights and integrated vehicle charging stations. 

This is a simple video of a typical Sunpower carport structure we install for our clients for a commercial solar panel carport solar system. Check it out, this might be the right solution for your organization.

In general these are one of the most common dual purpose solar systems. They add value in terms of solar electricity, covered parking for staff of customers and maximize limited space in urban solar installation scenarios. One of the biggest benefits of a commercial solar system is they can stabilize a business’ cash flow. This can also provide an opportunity to invest energy savings in various areas of the company or organization.

Call us today at 480-636-0321 to learn how much we can help lower your operating costs with a renewable energy solar system by Sunpower. 

SolarStratos To the Edge of Space With Sunpower Solar Panels

SunPower isn’t just powering roofs and solar farms these days. The company, which touts its solar panels as the most durable and efficient on the market, is looking at other applications. I’d be hard pressed to find one as awesome as the upcoming Mission SolarStratos expedition which will be powered by its 22-24% efficient Maxeon™ solar cells.

The SolarStratos is an electric plane that has the flight characteristics of a low drag glider. It has extremely long thin wings and a very small profile.  However it is outfitted with an electric motor, a very efficient front propeller, and wings and tail covered with around 24 square meters of solar panels. Inside fit up to 2 pilots in fighter configuration and what appears to be a 20kWh battery (nearly the same size as the 125 mile Hyundai IONIQ).

Interestingly this plane will not be pressurized, requiring the pilots to wear space suits that are also powered by the energy from the solar panels and stored in the battery.

Some stats from the press release (below):

  • Length: 8.5 meters – about 30 feet, or the distance from the end zone to the 10-yard line on an American football field
  • Wingspan: 24.8 meters – about 81 feet, or the length of two standard city buses
  • Weight: 450 kilograms – about as heavy as a grand piano; to make SolarStratos its lightest, the cabin will not be pressurized, requiring pilots to wear astronaut suits that are pressurized by solar energy
  • Engine: 32-kilowatt electrical engine, about one-third the size of what would power an electric vehicle
  • Energy: 22 square meters of SunPower Maxeon solar cells, each reaching 22 to 24 percent efficiency
  • Batteries: One 20-kilowatt lithium ion battery
  • Autonomy: Self-generates electricity with solar to power the plane for more than 12 hours

Contact us today to learn how Sunpower solar panels can power your commercial business by lowering your annual operating costs.  Call 480.636.0321

The 3 Types of Onsite Commercial Solar Installations

Canna Solar offers a variety of solar equipment options for you to choose from when you go solar. One of our most popular equipment product lines is Sunpower, a US solar panel company.


When you decide to move forward with solar for your business, the placement and type of commercial solar installation used are usually determined by the physical characteristics of your site. This video overviews the three typical onsite solar installation methods, including rooftop solar systems, ground-mounted arrays and carport solar panels. It also covers some of the reasons why you might consider each.


When you’re first investigating the possibility of implementing a commercial solar installation, the future looks bright. It’s exciting to think about the energy cost savings and the environmental and social benefits this clean, renewable resource will bring to your business. 

Your solar panel installation process will vary in time and complexity depending on the type you’re planning. For example, rooftop solar panels installed on commercial buildings take significantly less time than field or solar carport projects. Whichever type of solar power solution you choose, construction will follow the four basic steps outlined below.

1. Site Assessment

Every commercial solar installation project requires planning in advance to ensure a smooth construction process. This due diligence can include:

  • The physical evaluation of the proposed site—whether it’s a structural evaluation of a building or in-depth topographical and geological surveys of a proposed worksite.
  • Legal review of title reports and other records to confirm your right to build.
  • Determining where your new system will hook into the power grid when completed.

We take care of all of these aspects of the construction of your solar system install. This is all handled by our staff and all costs associated with the assessment period are carried by our organization even if you do not move forward on your project.

2. Engineering and Commercial Solar Panel Design

In the second phase, conceptual ideas and initial plans are formalized. Early Design Drawings show where the solar panels for your business will be placed and help lock down exactly what will happen once construction begins. You can expect to review Permit Drawings, used to obtain various building permits. Toward the end of this phase, you’ll also review Construction Drawings, which are the blueprints for all the commercial solar installation work to follow. We think creatively to find ways to maximize your properties space resources in order to install a system type that will provide you with the most amount of value.

3. Construction and Solar Panel System Commissioning

Depending on the type of project, construction can take as little as 5 weeks for simple installations, and up to 12 weeks or longer for more complex projects. Expect some periodic interruptions to your organization’s daily routine during construction. For example, you may need to find alternate parking options or accommodate temporary power shutdowns. These inconveniences can be minimized with a well-thought-out project plan.

After construction comes commissioning—the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the final “okay” where we confirm that your new commercial solar installation was built according to plan and operates within acceptable parameters, and the utility grants permission to operate.

4. Solar Panel Operation and Maintenance (O&M)

A properly maintained and serviced commercial solar installation can provide decades of clean, reliable energy and it begins on the first day your new solar system comes online. This final phase launches the decisions outlined in your original contract that specify your organization’s level of involvement in O&M going forward. We offer an initial 3 year operation and maintenance schedule that includes panel cleaning. We have semi annual and annual inspections as well as monthly performance reports, up to the gold standard of O&M: a performance guarantee.

Contact us today at 480.636.0321 to learn how solar can make your business a more lean profitable operation.