Trina Solar US Receives Prestigious Top Energy Innovation of the Year Award – SolarQuarter

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Trina Solar, a global leader in PV modules and smart energy solutions, is honoured to announce that its Waterloo Terrace project has received the “Top Energy Innovation of the Year Award” in the Environment + Energy Leader Awards program. The award stems from the successful partnerships between Trina, Foundation Communities, and Spear Commercial & Industrial in deploying a 250KW rooftop PV system with Trina’s Vertex modules.


Award-Winning Innovation


The Waterloo Terrace Solar Project stands out for its exceptional contribution in energy innovation, setting a benchmark for innovation and sustainability in its category. Foundation Communities, a non-profit housing organization, commissioned Spear Commercial & Industrial, a local engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company, to install a rooftop solar PV system at its Waterloo Terrace apartment complex in Austin, Texas.


Bettering Lives for Austin Communities

Foundation Communities owns and operates more than 25 affordable housing communities across North Texas, including the Waterloo Terrace complex in Austin, TX. In addition to providing affordable housing, Foundation Communities has sustainability goals, setting it apart from other affordable housing non-profit organizations.

“We are a Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge partner and have goals to reduce our energy and water consumption by 20% over ten years,” said Katelynn Essig, Director of Sustainability at Foundation Communities. “We also have a solar capacity goal to install 1.5-megawatt (MW), and the solar at Waterloo Terrace helped us meet that goal one year early. We pay the utilities for the 132 single adults that live with us, so the solar savings significantly reduce our operating costs, which allows us to invest that money back into the residents.”

Empowering Local EPC Firms

Spear is an Austin-based EPC company focusing on C&I solar projects. Spear took advantage of Trina’s total commercial solar solution to help Foundation Communities realize its sustainability goals.

“The Trina team sells solar panels, the racking system, and the inverters all together, so we don’t have compatibility issues,” said Spear Executive Vice President Mark Rangel. “Trina negotiates all pricing with other manufacturers to deliver a solution that is extremely competitive. I see a lot of value in that because we’re a small company. I don’t have a large purchasing department, so it really helps.”

Trina Vertex N modules use n-type TOPCon advanced technology more efficiently than traditional PERC cells. This innovative design reduces the electrical Balance of System (eBOS) needed to wire the system, which cuts total project costs (modules, tracker, inverter, eBOS, labour, etc.) and lowers the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) to provide more customer value.

Thanks to this partnership, Waterloo’s PV system using Trina’s high-powered, high-efficiency Vertex modules has generated over 583MWh in renewable energy. The PV system allows Foundation Communities to leverage renewables to accelerate its sustainability goals, provide free solar power to the complex’s residents, and create more pathways to improve its residents’ well-being. The project highlights that a sustainable future, more equitable renewable energy adoption, and local business success are not mutually exclusive goals.

A Testament to Excellence

The distinction of Trina and the Waterloo Terrace Solar Project by Environment + Energy Leader signifies a remarkable achievement in the field. Jessica Hunt, Co-President of E+E Leader, expresses her admiration for this year’s winners: “The introduction of six distinct categories in this year’s awards program not only celebrates the breadth of innovation within the industry but also highlights the specific areas where companies are truly making an impact. A win is a testament to these companies’ outstanding efforts and leadership in driving forward the sustainability agenda.”

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