A Moral Imperative: Climate Change & Your Vote

Call climate change an environmental crisis, an economic opportunity, a matter of national security… Call it whatever you want as long as you don’t call it a “hoax” or “fake news.” Our world is literally burning as we still sit idly by arguing this as a partisan issue. Our children should be ashamed of us.

I hope we can put aside the noise and see this issue for the moral imperative that it is.

Climate change is THE defining issue of the 2020 presidential election. Come November I’m not voting for a candidate (per se) or overly simplified ideology. My vote will be cast in favor of making the world a better place for all future generations.

This photo is of my three children: Jack (8), Janie (4), and Benny (2). I am voting for THEM.

Craig M. Davis
President & Employee-Owner

Children

Solar Industry News Updates: September 2020

Quickly catch up on the latest solar industry news…

Solar Module Price Fluctuations

Solar suppliers may be noticing recent pricing swings. Several events have led to price fluctuations in the solar supply market:

  1. In mid-July, a series of flash explosions at a GCL Silicon polysilicon plant reportedly took down more than 10% of the global supply of polysilicon. Polysilicon is the base material for making mono- and poly-crystalline modules. This shortage was almost immediately followed by a 60% increase in the price of polysilicon.
  2. In another blow to the polysilicon supply, severe flooding in southeastern China forced the closure of Tongwei’s polysilicon factory in Sichuan.
  3. Sourcing raw materials, specifically glass, has become a much longer process since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Glass shortages are resulting in higher prices and longer procurement windows for manufacturers.

These events are leading fluctuating pricing within the supply chain. Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables estimates that bifacial module pricing will stabilize by 2021.

26% Federal Tax Solar Credit – Act Now!

If you are considering adding a solar energy system to your commercial facility, do not let the market’s price fluctuations dissuade you from moving forward. There is a generous 26% U.S. federal Investment Tax Credit available for 2020 projects. In 2021, this credit steps down to 22%, eventually dropping to just 10% in 2022.

To be eligible for the 26% credit, construction must commence (i.e. physical work start) by Dec. 31, 2020, and the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2023. There are options available to purchase now but not fully build the project until a later time. As a solar EPC firm, Melink Solar can help you navigate this process and determine what is in your company’s best interest — contact us today

Solar Plant Growth

According to a survey of U.S. solar industry professionals, large solar plants have a longer operational life expectancy and are cheaper to run, citing the following:

  • Reductions in up-front expenses
  • Changes in capacity factors, financing costs, and tax rates
  • Improvements in project life
  • Operating expenditures

The assumed life of projects now averages 32.5 years, up from 21.5 years in 2007. This expanded lifeline comes with many benefits for solar plant owners. Read more on this topic.

Solar in the 2020 Election

The climate crisis is expected to be an important issue in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Most supportive renewable policy in the U.S. is coming at the state level, and many are advocating the need for support at the federal level. President Donald Trump has generally held an unfavorable view of supporting renewables. Presidential candidate Joe Biden supports a national plan to convert the U.S. to 100% clean energy by 2035. Read more about the candidates’ solar policy.

The Case for Commissioning

How third-party commissioning agents can improve building construction.

Working with thousands of buildings over the last three decades, I have witnessed firsthand a critical issue in the building industry: Construction Quality. Serious deficiencies with buildings are shockingly common.

These flaws are often born from a construction event — not only in new construction but also remodels and even simple equipment replacements. This quality deficiency is prevalent in all types of buildings: big and small, simple and complex, commercial and residential.  Retail, restaurant, office, grocery, lodging, education, warehouse, data center, healthcare… none are immune.

As a result, we have buildings with:

  • An unhealthy and uncomfortable indoor environment
  • High energy use
  • Soaring repair and maintenance costs

Causes of Poor Construction Quality

I have observed four key root causes of poor construction quality:

  1. Pressure on time and money – As a society, we want things faster and cheaper, and buildings are no exception. This puts great constraints on construction teams, forcing errors and cut corners. Important design elements are being ignored or intentionally removed from scopes of work.
  2. Scarcity of skilled labor – The skilled labor shortage has been a national challenge for a while now and is getting increasingly worse. Because of this, we have people installing building systems who lack the necessary training and experience. Even when intentions are good, mistakes happen.
  3. Lack of integrity – Sadly, personal character and ethics are undervalued by many. Frequently I see reports from contractors that claim certain tasks were done but, when checked, clearly are not so… A construction checklist indicating the presence of important equipment accessories that are in fact missing, a balance report showing airflow set to design while the components necessary to do so are not even installed, and the list goes on. Much of the construction process is invisible to the building owner and thus ripe for dishonesty.
  4. Absence of accountability – The vast majority of construction issues are not being caught. In the rare cases they are caught, they are not being pursued to a successful resolution. This problem is exacerbated for chain building owners who are trying to manage dozens, if not hundreds, of projects at a given time. They are unable to keep up, and their level of oversight diminishes.

Commissioning: How to Improve Construction Quality

So, what can we do about it? We can give construction contractors more time and money to do their job and, though that may help, that does not ensure success. The skilled labor shortage is a long-term problem and will not be solved any time soon. We can and should associate with those who have integrity, but we also must verify that our trust in them is justified.

What can we do immediately? What we can immediately do to improve construction quality is provide accountability by auditing and inspecting the construction process. In other words, we can commission the building.

An independent commissioning agent does this by working alongside the design and construction teams, objectively checking things along the way — but not replacing those teams or their responsibilities. The commissioning agent examines particular details of the building systems and also considers how those systems work together in the big picture to accomplish the primary purposes of the building. An experienced and diligent commissioning agent will uncover construction deficiencies and will work with the appropriate contractors to see those issues to a successful resolution.

Without this accountability built into our construction processes (AKA commissioning) the quality of our buildings will only continue to get worse.


Melink offers commissioning services. Contact us to learn more.