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4 things you might not know about solar
Jun12

4 things you might not know about solar

1) Solar Panels Work in Cloudy Weather Don’t believe us, just ask someone from Germany, which is one of the world’s leading markets for solar. This cold climate country, along with some of its scandinavian neighbors has shown that solar can thrive even in cold climates. But of course, if you’ve ever gotten burnt on a grey day, you’d already know the sun doesn’t stop working just because of some clouds.   2) Solar panels don’t require much maintenance Yup, with no moving parts, and robust hardware, it’s rare that a PV system will fail within the lifecycle of its 25 year warranty. Some homeowners care for their panels by giving them an annual cleaning, but some don’t even do this. Why lift a finger when the rain or snow can do the job for you? Solar monitoring software allows users to spot drops in power generation immediately, so if a large piece of debris falls on one of the panels, it’s easy to locate. In some cases the panels have even been known to improve the strength of the roof:   3) These surprising statistics More than half the united states solar panels have been installed within the last three years The amount of solar energy that hits Texas each month is equal to the entire amount of energy ever produced by oil and gas, according to CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Rhone Resch. The amount of solar energy that hits the world every minute is enough to meet its power needs for a year.   4) Solar is more cost effective than fossil fuels At first look it might appear that the fossil fuel per a KW hour cost is cheaper than solar, but in some areas, a combination of federal, state and local incentives can slash up to 60% off the cost of a home PV installation. Additionally since conventional energy is a limited resource and the cost is guaranteed to rise, locking in a net-metering rate now is an easy way to stabilize future finances. Unlike fossil fuels, solar pays for itself within 7-15 years once it is installed, usually bringing in two to four times their worth in savings on electricity bills. Indeed The Wall Street Journal has shown that to install a new coal or nuclear plant today, would be less cost effective than encouraging homeowners to switch to solar, since the plants are so expensive to fund:     And then there’s all the nasty health and environmental side effects of fossil fuels, which, when considered in calculating its per KW hour cost make its price-tags more than double....

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What happens when renewables are overproduced?
Jun06

What happens when renewables are overproduced?

The writing is on the walls, or in this case, the roofs. We all knew the time would come sooner or later, the day government solar incentives began to decline. While America has yet to see such a trend, some countries around the world have begun to produce more renewable energy then they are capable of consuming.   Most recently there was Chile, which produced so much solar that it was giving it away for free. A Bloomberg chart shows how spot prices reached zero for 113 days through April since the beginning of 2016 And then there was Germany, which generated so much renewable energy in May that it saw power prices go negative for several hours–meaning that power companies were actually paying customers to consumer energy!   The list goes on: last year in 2015 Denmark produced 140% of its energy needs through renewable energy and began exporting its excess to neighboring countries; Costa Rica ran its entire country on renewable energy for 75 days; and then there’s Austria, Norway and Iceland–all of which achieved close to 100% renewable power years ago and, well, see the writing on the roofs now?   Incase it’s still difficult to read, perhaps Ray Kurzweil’s accurate predictions about the exponential growth of installed PV panels along with this neat graph might get the point across:   The world is shifting to solar fast, and that means the government incentives to do so are quickly disappearing.   It’s not unimaginable that in the near future, homeowners will be faced with the choice of either continuing to purchase power off the electrical companies or become independent suppliers of power to the electrical companies. While the latter will provide freedom from big corporations it will also have the drawback of no longer being subsidized–making it much more of an upfront financial burden to bare.   No doubt the energy companies have read what the solar trend spells for their future–it’s been a message we’ve known for a long...

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Why home solar works better than solar power plants
May27

Why home solar works better than solar power plants

If you’re thinking about making the switch to clean energy, but are waiting for a community solar farm to pop up in your area or a utility company to construct a massive project that harvests the sun, might want to think again.   But first, let’s talk about Blockbuster. Remember them? That blue and yellow chain of video rental stores that could be found in nearly every suburban neighborhood in the 90s?     Yeah, I barely do, either. And that’s because when the internet changed the way people consumed movies, the behemoth company stubbornly refused to shift its model of distribution.     With the conversion rates of people switching to solar becoming more common across the globe, we’ve begun to notice a similar flub on the part of large scale solar production plants.      While these grand undertakings are exponentially better for the environment than their carbon emitting alternatives, recent problems with such projects prove the energy source is much better suited to be captured by autonomous individuals than in concentrated areas on large tracts of land.   This past March a sector of Ivanpah, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, emphasized this point as it went up in flames.     With nearly 200,000 sets of focused mirrors superheating steam to generate electricity and tons of small moving parts, it was a difficult (and expensive) project to keep running smoothly. Add to this the sprawling 3,500 acres of land it takes to house the plant and you’ve racked up a bill costing nearly 20 cents per a kilowatt hour.   Photovoltaic home solar systems on the other hand are much more scalable, only require rooftops or backyards as necessary real estate and have the advantage of making electricity where it is used–reducing its kilowatt per hour cost down to 6 cents or less.   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking about how the public produces, access and consumes electricity....

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Roof Mount Innovations
May19

Roof Mount Innovations

Pigeon coops, gardens, athletic facilities and power generation–over the last century, roof tops have seen a diversification of uses in addition to their job of keeping out nasty weather. When it comes to mounting solar panels on your roof, it’s important to keep in mind its original function, and make sure any new additions don’t stop it from completed its first and foremost job. Staving off the elements is no easy task–sun, rain and wind can damage even the toughest of materials over time, which is why heavy duty shingling and tar are commonly prefered for their robust qualities. Drilling holes to mount solar panels into a roof can compromise the material’s integrity and, sometimes, using the proper mounting technique is not enough. New age solar mounting technology and hardware like those made by our industry favorite, IronRidge anticipate the bad weather a system is likely to encounter and include subtle design features that make a huge difference. The IronRidge FlashFoot attachment, which holds racking mounts to a roof, uses a patented bushing that snuggly compresses into an L-foot cavity. This seal creates a dual shield with complete protection against water intrusion. This small design tweak eliminates the need for depending on caulking, which will eventually dry up, crack and cause leaks. Additionally, the 12 inch flashing support squares that support the attachment have an elevated platform to control watershed so water doesn’t pool up.     The innovation continues with the IronRidge Mounting RX system, which has a curved shape to resist the vertical and lateral pressures that panels might incur due to high winds. Previously, the industry standard was to use flush roof supports and shape the rails square at 90 degrees. Small design design changes such of as these can lead to thousands of dollars in savings on eventual roof repairs.   As the industry continues to grow and mounts become more common, no doubt even more innovations will occur helping our roofs evolve to become one of the home’s most useful...

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The Big Apple’s Sun Farms
May12

The Big Apple’s Sun Farms

2016 has seen an unprecedented surge of solar projects in New York, with federal incentives enticing entrepreneurs to lease remote sites outside the city for community solar installations that can deliver power to the urban population. The growth of solar projects in New York has been on a steady incline according the State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). In 2011 the state saw approximately 9,000 projects producing 80 megawatts of power compared with 2015, which saw 45,000 projects producing 525 megawatts of power.   Growth in 2016 is expected to accelerate even faster in the wake of New York Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which aims to have the state producing more than half its energy from renewable resources by 2030.   Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard includes an array of incentives for residential and commercial installations and has sparked a landrush from businesses looking to get in on supplying clean energy for the city.   While rooftop panels have been the standard for supplying solar energy and are still common, proposals like those seen in the Village of Owego’s project are looking to lease out areas to build solar farms.   The clean energy recipients of the farm-style solar projects vary: some are group projects, some serve commercial users, and some serve municipal users. According to figures from the NYSERDA over 42 applications for farmed solar projects have been submitted at the start of 2016. It remains to be seen, however how well these businesses will do since, unlike fossil fuels, solar is available to anyone who is clever enough to harness it and, currently, so are its...

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