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Looking Back on Solar in 2012

Looking back on the solar in 2012, U.S. manufacturers have struggled to stay afloat amidst the solar trade issues with China, but it wasn’t as bad for the rest of the industry.  Despite the attempt to promote U.S. manufacturing of PV by cracking down on Chinese dumping of solar products below fair market value, Chinese manufacturers found loopholes in the legislation to circumnavigate the tariffs imposed on US imports.  It’s tariffs were put on the cells manufactured in China. Solar cells are manufactured outside of the country, and then assembled into solar panels in China before shipping to the U.S.  This has created all sorts of turmoil for U.S. manufactures and we’re seeing some players start to slip away.    Yet the ongoing drop of prices meant that more people were able to go solar.  Overall, 2012 has been a record year for photovoltaic installations. The third quarter of 2012 saw the installation of 684 megawatts of solar- a 44% growth over last year’s Q3, making it the third largest on record for the United States PV industry.  For more information from SEIA, check this out: U.S. Solar Market Insight: Third Quarter 2012. From the beginning of 2010 to now, the cost of residential solar installations fell 21.8% to around $5.46 per watt, according to GTM Research. The same plummeting prices that have hurt U.S. manufacturers have meant more work for U.S. retailers, third-party financing, inverter manufacturers, and installers. This year, we also witnessed two solar companies go public.  In late March of this year, Enphase Energy went public.  This past month, Elon Musk’s SolarCity also announced the pricing for their initial public offering.   Moving forward into 2013, GoGreenSolar.com is optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for customers and the industry at large.  Solar panel prices are low, competition is high, customers are buying, and the technology continues to improve.  Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to be in the solar business.  Thanks for being a part of our story! What do you think 2013 has in store for solar?...

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Solar Energy, Electrons Sold Separately?
Dec21

Solar Energy, Electrons Sold Separately?

Introduction to Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), commonly referred to as “Green Tags,” help states meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and other renewable energy mandates.  As state RPS requirements call for utilities to procure specific percentages of the energy they provide from renewable sources, RECs are gaining traction as a convenient opportunity.  This post will provide a brief introduction to RECs are and how they can be used.   Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) A Renewable Energy Certificate, also known as an REC, is the legal ownership of the “clean” qualities of 1 MWh of electricity that’s generated from renewable energy sources.   When electricity is generated by a qualified renewable source like solar, something really cool happens.  Two commodities are generated:  the electricity itself and the clean qualities of that electricity.   Electrons are the same whether they’re produced by photovoltaics or fossil fuels, so the electrons from the renewable source can be sold just like any other electricity.  The rights to the properties associated with this generation, however, can sometimes be traded independently.  This is where Renewable Energy Certificates come into play. One REC is equal to 1 MWh, or 1000kWh of the clean characteristics of electricity that’s produced by the renewable source.   In the case of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, this would be the “solar” attribute of the electricity generated by the solar panels.    A clean energy provider receives one REC for each MWh that their facility produces, which they can then sell.   After purchasing an REC, these clean characteristics can be legally claimed by the purchasing party.  RECs basically allow the customer to acquire the environmental benefits of renewable energy in measurable quantities.    Though the ownership of these certificates is tracked by renewable energy tracking systems such as M-RETS (Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System) and/or WREGIS (Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System), the qualities associated with RECs are intangible so they don’t have to be restricted by geographical location in the same way as the actual electricity.  The clean qualities of the REC will sometimes have to be bundled with the actual electricity, but in theory they don’t necessarily need to be.  The extent to which RECs transcend these physical limits does depend on legislation, but we’ll see how REC markets play out with legislation in the coming years. In renewable energy certificate markets, facilities are used to keep track of the certificates. Every MWh that is generated is given an identification number so it cannot be used twice or by more than one party.  After a certificate is claimed by its rightful owner, is considered to be “retired” and cannot...

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Solar Brings Down Electricity Costs
Dec14

Solar Brings Down Electricity Costs

Image Credit: PV...

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See Who Really Goes Solar
Dec07

See Who Really Goes Solar

Think that every homeowner who installs a solar system is an affluent liberal? It would surprise some people to discover that most solar customers are politically moderate folks who wouldn’t have installed a system if it wasn’t for the financial benefit of solar energy. A good number of solar customers are technology lovers and budget-conscious consumers who expect a solid return on their...

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How to Use a “Kill A Watt” Energy Meter
Dec05

How to Use a “Kill A Watt” Energy Meter

Want to test your household appliances to see how efficient they really are?  A Kill A Watt Energy Meter allows you to safely and accurately measure the power consumption of household appliances. You can check the amps, volts, and even see the cumulative consumption of your appliances by kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is the measurement your utility company uses on your bill.   This tool exposes those dreaded vampire loads around your house.  A vampire load is an appliance that uses energy even when they’re “turned off.”  Some of the main energy-sucking culprits in your home could be the microwave, PC, coffee maker, or television. You could have a number of these vampire loads running 24/7, costing you hundreds of dollars every year.  Anything with a digital clock is a suspect, so let’s learn how to test an appliance! This little gadget will make it easy to determine what’s costing you the most. You can set the Kill A Watt Energy Meter to measure the cost of running an appliance by adjusting this energy meter to a rate(s) that’s comparable to what your utility company charges per kWh. The Kill A Watt Energy Meter is particularly helpful for estimating the amount of energy used by appliances that cycle.  I decided to plug our refrigerator into the Kill A Watt to see just how much energy it draws.   Step 1. Plug it in To get started, plug your appliance directly into the Kill A Watt and then plug your Kill A Watt into the AC wall outlet.  Currently drawing 118.8 Volts Now you can reference the Kill A Watt’s LCD display to see the voltage (Volts) and current (Amps).  In addition to volts and amps, it’ll show you Watts (which is volts x amps), and frequency in Hz.   Over time, the Kill A Watt will rack up kilowatt-hours.  To get an idea of how much it costs to run my fridge, I have the rate set at $0.25 per kWh.   I’m presupposing that that I pay my utility company a quarter for every kilowatt-hour I use.   Step 2. Check the Clock You might want to take a note of the time you plugged it in, even though it will tally the hours that it’s connected.   Come back in a day, a week, or whenever.   Step 3. Write it Down Once the Kill A Watt has been plugged in for a while, you can read the sum of the energy your appliance consumed in kilowatt-hours. After reading the LCD display for the cumulative kWh, you can use this information to calculate the average amount of energy used by the...

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