Start-up plans solar manufacturing in disadvantaged communities

Great expectations from startup CHERP, manufacturing their new solar panels in 30 MW/year micro solar module assembly facilities located in underserved communicates, via public-private partnerships.

September 16, 2022John Fitzgerald Weaver

An ambitious startup, CHERP, seeks to launch a new ‘no hot spot’ panel, using non-profit micro solar module assembly facilities, to be distributed across disadvantaged communities. CHERP stands for Community Home Energy Revolution Project.

In a presentation hosted by Seneca Solar, CHERP put forth their nationwide vision to deploy 1,000 factories, each producing 100,000 solar modules per year. CHERP says each turnkey facility will cost about $6 million to put in place and will employ approximately 91 people.

The business plan requires public funding to support the construction of each facility, and seeks to combine 501C3 non-profit with for profit models. The group hopes that these facilities will be able to feed their local market’s solar panel demand, installed by local crews, thus creating a virtuous cycle – keeping cash local, and the economy healthy.

CHERP is seeking local 501C3 partners and investment groups with a tax appetite to develop these facilities.

The CHERP solar panel is marketed under the IdealPV name, and details can be found on the now-aged product specification page.

During the presentation, the company suggested that their module would have the lowest degradation and highest possible efficiency produced with regularly available components – a result of eliminating reverse-bias with their novel ‘no hot spot’ hardware design.

CHERP also says the modules have the ability to shut themselves down in milliseconds if they don’t sense an inverter – due to a ‘mass trick based on Einstein’s original equations’. Part of the benefit of the new design is that the units won’t have arc faults.

The group published a paper in the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics in July covering the result of a solar panel being tested with the new technique. The abstract describes the key tool that makes their module so special:

An alternative control method has been suggested by Kernahan (Kernahan, 2015) that senses in real time the dynamic conductance |dI/dV| of a string of cells and adjusts its operating current so that a partially shaded cell is never forced into reverse bias.

While the company doesn’t have a UL certified product yet, CHERP told pv magazine USA that they expect to send modules to ETL for testing and certification by the end of this month. The company says the factory is currently running and making panels, with opening scheduled for October.

ETL certification is expected later this year.

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