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Do Batteries Make Sense with Solar?
Jan09

Do Batteries Make Sense with Solar?

We all know installing solar makes sense, but should you install batteries with it? In a grid-tied system, the solar produces electricity which will save you money on your electric bill. Batteries are not required to make this happen and a battery system such as the LG Chem with SolarEdge will increase the system cost by at least $12,000. So, what good are they? The purpose of batteries is to store the electricity produced by the solar which could be helpful in a few different situations. One argument for batteries is that they could save you more money than solar by itself. This is dependent on how the electric company is charging you for power. If you are on a Time-of-Use (TOU) rate, you are going to be charged more for energy used in the between 4pm and 9pm, after your solar stops producing for the day. With batteries in place, you can store excess solar power generated during the day, when the electric rates are lower and use that power during those peak evening hours. This may increase your solar savings if the differences between lower energy rates and peak rates are greater than $.30/kWh. Your electric company’s net metering policies can also affect the battery decision. When you install solar, you will be feeding your excess solar power to the grid during the day and pulling electricity from the grid at night. If your electric company credits you a full kWh for every kWh you give them, there is no need for batteries unless you want backup power. A scenario where batteries can help is when the electric company charges you “demand charges”. These are more commonly seen in commercial electric rates but many electric companies are considering adding demand charges to residential rates. The demand charge is a dollar amount based on the largest amount of power drawn at one time during the month calculated in 15 minute intervals. A battery system can be set up to provide power when your demand spikes, which would reduce how much of that spike comes from the electric company, thereby reducing the demand charge on your bill.  On top of the savings on your electric bill, there may also be a financial incentive like a rebate to install batteries. California’s SGIP program and the Federal 30% tax credit is a prime example where the cost of the batteries is partially mitigated with a rebate or tax incentive.  Setting aside financial incentives, another good reason for batteries is power outages. A grid-tied system will not provide power to your home during a power outage. The one exception to this is...

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Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy
Jan07

Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy

A new method to calculate solar rebates in San Antonio, Texas has stirred controversy between home installers and CPS Energy, the region’s energy supplier. Until recently, CPS Energy has determined rebates according to a renewable system’s power-generating capacity. However all that has now changed as the energy company stated it will only be issuing rebates as a flat amount per renewable project, regardless of how much power that project produces. The changes are part of San Antonio’s 2009 Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), which aims to “aggressively” reduce customer electricity use by 2020 by providing renewable incentives to residential and commercial structures.  A new $15 million pool of funding added to the $849 million plan allowed CPS Energy to update its rebate structure. Home solar advocates, such as executive director of the San Antonio Solar Alliance Ben Rodrigues, are concerned that the changes will slow residential adoption. Going forward, the amended STEP will offer a flat $2,500 rebate to eligible projects until it has exhausted $9 million in funding, whereupon the rebate offer will drop to $1,500. Rick Luna, the administrator in charge of CPS Energy’s rebate program pointed out that the gradual reduction in solar incentives is not out of the ordinary. Rebates in San Antonio used to be priced at $3 per watt, but as the cost of materials decreased and more people have outfitted their homes with solar, the incentives have also declined. Before the new STEP was initiated, residents in San Antonio could get up to $0.60 per watt, making a 10 kilowatt system eligible for a $6,000 rebate. Rick Luna, CPS Energy interim Director of Technology and Product Innovation, said the company’s new flat rebate structure allows it to stretch funding for more residents switching to solar While the new rebate plan cuts the incentives by more than half, CPS Energy says it will allow them to offer financial support to an additional 6,200 projects. While opponents of CPS might argue that the energy company acted unilaterally with San Antonio’s utility board and disagree with the latest STEP modifications, there’s little they can do. The flat rebate energy structure is already in effect and San Antonio’s City Council does not seem inclined to change it back, creating a time sensitive countdown for the $2,500 rebate to exist until it is reduced even further. To lock in the latest solar rebates before they’re cut again, home solar and DIY solar installation companies such as GoGreen Solar, which specialize in securing the best rebates for a home solar installation systems, continue to provide a valuable resource for homeowners looking to get the most bang for...

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QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 Advantage
Jan03

QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 Advantage

Everyone knows solar panels are a good idea but are there certain ones that are a better idea than others? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s take a look at the new QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 as an example of a superior and award winning PV module. There are many innovations that have gone into improving the power output of the Q.PEAK DUO-G5 solar panels.  One is that the solar cells are interconnected with wires instead of flat ribbons on cells. These wires take up less surface area allowing the sunlight to hit more of the cell area. The innovative design also allows light reflected off the wires to be redirected back onto the module surface. This alone increases power production by 2.5%. Another design advantage was QCell’s choice to use six busbars on each cell. This decreases the space between busbars which means that the individual electrons have a shorter path to the busbar, decreasing losses to resistance. The extra busbars also allow better electron flow as there are more busbars to carry them. The six busbars result in a 1% increase in power production. Half-size solar cells in the Q.PEAK DUO G5 module increase power production by 3% by reducing the current which reduces the resistive losses within the cells. The half cell design also increases stability against pressure on the module, reducing the risk of the cell cracking. The chance of cracking is further reduced by the way the cells are cut with a smoother edge than typical solar cells. Plus, with the if a cell does crack, the six busbars mentioned above help mitigate the effects of the cracks causing resistive losses. Creating a much more stable design over all. This more stable design means a lower degradation rate of only .054% annually. QCell offers the guarantee of at least 85% production after 25 years on these innovative solar panels. The DUO-G5 PV modules are also different in their cell interconnection design. The upper and lower sections of the modules are connected in parallel instead of series. This results in higher power production when the module is partially shaded because the unshaded half of the module can still perform at 100%. Other technology that increases the performance of these solar panels is the Anti PID technology that reduces losses in wet climates. Hot-spot Protect (HSP) eliminates cells that have a high risk of creating hot spots from the production line keeping the modules hot spot free. As a matter of fact, all the solar cells on the production line are tracked with laser markings that are part of QCell’s TRA.Q traceable quality system. Anti LID...

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The Go Green Solar Difference
Dec13

The Go Green Solar Difference

Everyone is selling the same solar equipment, but which distributor you choose can make a world of difference. If you have doubts about that, ask Tony Panos in Desert Haven, Texas. Tony could not find a contractor to quote a turn-key solar installation for him so he went the do-it-yourself route. Tony purchased his solar kit from Go Green Solar who was there to help him every step of the way. Go Green Solar prepared the permit documents that Tony used to pull the permit for his DIY project. Every time Tony had a question during his installation, he contacted Go Green Solar and got an answer right away. These things would have been enough to make Tony a happy customer, but it turned out that building his ground mount, racking his 45 solar panels and making the electrical hook-up to his home was the easy part. The real difficulty for Tony came after he had completed his installation and applied to his utility company, Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, for permission to operate his new grid-tied solar system. The co-op refused to grant permission unless Tony provided proof that he had a $500,000 commercial liability insurance policy for connecting his solar to their grid. Tony called several insurance agencies and because he did not own a business, none of them were able to provide him with a commercial policy that met the requirements. Tony tried to get help from the co-op. According to Tony, “Rio Grande Electric claimed they had other residential customers that installed solar and provided the required insurance, but they would not give me any info on what insurance companies they used. I literally had my system up for two months and could not use it.” This is where Go Green Solar stepped in to save the day. They worked directly with Rio Grande Electric and their own insurance company to solve the problem. In the end, Go Green Solar added the required insurance for Tony’s system to their own insurance policy and gave Tony the insurance certificate that satisfied Rio Grande. Tony was finally able to turn on the solar system he had worked so hard to install. Tony said it best, “I am extremely happy with Go Green Solar’s performance and I am so thankful I chose them. If I had bought my solar system from someone else, it would have been delivered with a message saying ‘good luck’ and that’s it. Dealing with the co-op was a huge headache and I don’t see how I could have accomplished it without Go Green Solar’s help. They really went above and beyond.” If you are...

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Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025
Dec10

Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025

Illinois is hoping to become the Midwest’s solar energy leader, increasing its solar projects by 2,000 percent in the next 7 years, thanks to a state law that has been slowly rolling out. “It’s going to catapult Illinois to the forefront of the solar market, and put our state on the path to the renewable future we need to limit the worst impacts of climate change,” quoted MeLena Hessel, policy advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. The ambitious goal is part of the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act, a 2016 law that set the target for Illinois to get 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Currently the state gets 98 megawatts, or less than 1 percent of its energy from solar power. In order to hit its 2025 target, the Illinois has been hustling to build a renewable energy infrastructure by training more workers and subsidizing more solar projects. Of note is a legislative emphasis placed on smaller, home solar projects. Section 8.6.1 of Illinois’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan spells out how the state plans to set aside a quarter of its available funding to help low-income single-family households reduce electric bills by funding photovoltaic projects on their homes. Together with the falling price of solar components, increased panel efficiency, and generous state and federal subsidies, going solar in Illinois has never had a higher Return on Investment. The biggest hurdles, however, that many single-family households face is getting their projects selected for the state’s subsidies. GoGreenSolar specializes in both home solar installation and navigating the bureaucratic topography of detailed proposals to get solar installations approved, is one of the more popular resources homeowners have been turning towards to get the best financing and upfront costs for outfitting their homes with photovoltaic panels....

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