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Top 7 Myths About Solar Energy

1.  Solar energy is too expensive. According to a nation-wide poll, 97% of Americans overestimate the upfront cost of going solar. [1] The price of photovoltaics (a.k.a. solar)  has been declining, renewable energy is more affordable than ever.  Click here to view solar panels as low as $0.70 Watt! There are financial incentives at the federal and state level that help solar compete with fossil fuels, which also subsidized by the government.  Having the financial incentives in place for renewable energy makes solar energy a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels and a often a practical investment for homeowners. Solar systems in the United States qualify for a 30% federal tax credit.  If you have tax liability and you put a solar system in service, you can claim a tax credit that’s equal to 30% of qualified expenditures that went into your solar system. To learn about state and regional incentives in your geographic location, visit dsireusa.org. “Soft costs” associated with permitting are also going to depend on your local Authority Having Jursidiction (AHJ).  Unfortunately, the U.S. has yet to streamline permitting so much of this is going to be specific to your location. Want to see how you can save by switching to solar?  Get your monthly energy usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) from your electric bill and use our Solar Energy Savings Calculator! 2.  Solar panels only work on hot, sunny days. Contrary to the common misconception that solar only works on sunny days, solar panels work best on clear, cool days.   Even if it’s overcast and a bit foggy, your solar panels will continue to generate at about 30% of their normal energy output.    Germany, which doesn’t have a reputation for being the sunniest of places, had about 21.6 times more solar power installations per capita than the United States by the end of 2011.  Solar panels can also take a beating.   Quality solar panels are manufactured with tempered glass and “hail-tested” with golf-ball sized projectiles to ensure that they will withstand environmental pressures.  Click here to read about solar panel hail testing. 3.  You can size a solar PV system based on the square footage of your home. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get an accurate idea of how many kW of solar you should install without doing some homework first.   The first step is determining your load, or the average amount of energy consumed (kWh). Dig out your electric bills for the past 12 months and average the kilowatt hours (kWh) used by your home or business.  If you don’t have this on hand but want to figure out how much electricity you use,...

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How Does Solar Energy Work?
Feb11

How Does Solar Energy Work?

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NFL “Green Energy” Infographic
Feb04

NFL “Green Energy” Infographic

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Solar-Powered Aircraft to Fly Around the World?

The world’s first solar-powered flight around the world is not too far into the future. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a lightweight airplane powered entirely by solar, is planning its first cross-country voyage for this year with no fuel- that’s only if you don’t count photons from the sun. The Solar Impulse was an idea that became a working prototype through ambition, years of planning, and hard work.  An airplane that can fly during both day and night exclusively from solar energy was the kind of aspiration most would disregarded as unfeasible, simply because it hadn’t been done yet. “If an aircraft is able to fly day and night without fuel, propelled only by solar energy, let no one claim that it is impossible to do the same thing for motor vehicles, heating and air conditioning systems and computers. This project voices our conviction that a pioneering spirit with political vision can together change society and bring about an end to fossil fuel dependency.”  – Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse. Solar Impulse HB-SIA is the prototype that’s proving to the world that can be accomplished with renewable energy. With a wingspan exceeding 200 feet, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA has a width comparable to that of an Airbus A340.   The plane has a skeleton of carbon fiber-honeycomb composites and only weighs about 1.8 tons- about that of an average vehicle. The entire plane is designed to conserve energy.   In June of 2012, this pilot project successfully completed a 19-hour trip from Spain to Morocco. In 2013, Solar Impulse HB-SIA plans to fly the plane from California to Virginia, so keep your eyes peeled for more news on this plane. The Solar Impulse HB-SIB, the next generation model that’s been under construction since 2011, has a wing-span loaded with 15000 monocrystalline solar cells to keep the plane powered for its trip around the world in the next couple of years. The Solar Impulse HB-SIB will attempt to circumnavigate planet Earth, flying both day and night. It’s even equipted with a cockpick that’s large enough for the pilots to recline and take a snooze. There will be 5 stops along the way to switch pilots every few days. Testing of the Solar Impulse HB-SIB is scheduled for 2014 and the plane’s round-the-world flight is planned to take place between April and July of 2015.   Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the project’s leaders, feel confident that they will fly a solar-powered airplane across the globe in 2015. According to www.SolarImpulse.com, the aim of the Solar Impulse project is “to use the power of this airborne symbol to help change people’s minds about renewable...

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How do Modern Building Designs Promote Energy Efficiency?

While architecture for many years was solely related to the appearance of a building, there have been many changes in recent years. Given the level of environmental awareness that we are all now expected to have, modern architecture is reflective of this. Today’s new buildings are greener and more energy efficient than ever before. We looked at how modern designs promote this new outlook, and what the long-term impacts and results will be.  Location Location No, there isn’t a glut of buildings under construction in a particular part of the world because it has more exposure to sunlight or wind. However, the location of buildings in terms of how they are constructed plays a central role in determining energy efficiency, especially when it comes to relying on solar power. A building that faces the south, for example, can expect to enjoy more natural light than it otherwise would. These buildings can therefore benefit more from solar harnessing, should they engage in it, or a massively reduced energy bill as they wouldn’t rely on artificial light during the day. Material Gains The range of materials used in the construction industry is perhaps the biggest factor when it comes to promoting energy efficiency in new builds. In recent years, products such as ETFE, texlon, and other tensiles have become widely used as designers look to create the most environmentally friendly constructions possible. The benefits that can be enjoyed from such materials is enormous. As well as the environmental positives that lead to a huge reduction in energy usage and costs, they are also great for bringing down the actual construction costs, too. The low weight of most of these also means that the use of metals such as steel and iron has been reduced dramatically, which is another positive step. The Bigger Picture Modern building trends are moving towards completely sustainable constructions, rather than those that may have a solar roof that can heat 50% of a buildings’ water, for example. Today, initiatives such as carbon capture are high on the agenda of designers and scientists, so that any emissions buildings do create can be re-used positively. The growing use of on-site waste and water recycling practices are also combining to make buildings more efficient than ever before, with owners happy to become accountable for their carbon footprint and act accordingly to reduce this. In today’s environmentally conscious world, energy efficiency is regarded as a minimum expectation, and any aesthetic or other benefits that extend from this are seen as a welcome addition. How something looks isn’t the beginning and the end of the debate anymore, which can only be a...

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