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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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Will solar work in your state? (Infographic)
Jan17

Will solar work in your state? (Infographic)

Do photovoltaics(PV) really work outside of California?   When first looking into solar, it seems only natural to assume that solar panels will work best in hot areas. Contrary to this intuition, solar panels perform best in cool environments.   You’ll get the maximum yield from your PV system when direct sunlight is hitting your array, but solar panels continue to generate electricity with ambient sunlight on cloudy days. Tip: monocrystalline solar panels are known to be more efficient in low-light conditions than polycrystalline solar panels. Rain can also rinse off “soiling,” or the dirt and dust that builds up on solar panels, making them operate more efficiently. Some areas also have rewarding “net metering” policies that credit you for the the energy your PV system generates on those clear days.  It’s fed into the electricity grid and later used to offset your energy consumption (kWh) on cloudy days or at night when you’re drawing from the utility grid.   To learn more about grid-tied PV systems, read Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101. With the installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems declining, investing in clean energy is more cost-effective than ever.  Solar is even saving homeowners money in cloudier cities like Seattle and Portland. Solar is steadily appearing on more rooftops throughout the country- which U.S. cities have you noticed more PV systems being installed?...

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How to make a light source out of plastic bottles.
Jan08

How to make a light source out of plastic bottles.

Well over a billion people on our planet don’t have access to electricity and this D.I.Y. solar light can brighten homes during the day and replace toxic kerosine lamps. Watch this video: 4 easy steps to light a room with a solar bottle lamp: 1. Add a couple teaspoons of bleach to keep the water clean. 2. Drill a hole in roofing to fit the circumference of the plastic bottle. 3. Push the bottle up through the hole in the roofing. 4.  Seal the the bottle with polyester resin to prevent a leaking roof. [i] It’s a stunningly simple lighting solution: sunlight passes through the water inside the bottle, refracting light, and brightening the room. Even though you might not insert a 2-liter bottle into your roof, this might also come in handy if you’re want to illuminate the inside of a tree-house. Check out the infographic below and “share” this page if you think this is cool!    ...

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Is the 60W lightbulb illegal?
Jan03

Is the 60W lightbulb illegal?

Beginning 2014, Federal Efficiency Standards Outlaw the Production of “old-school” 40 and 60 Watt Incandescent Lamps About 6 out of 10 Americans don’t know that traditional incandescent lamps are being phased out. [1] As of January 1st, 2014, it goes against Federal law to manufacture one of these old things… This federal regulation was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, banning the production and importation of 40 and 60 Watt incandescent lamps.  Over the last several years, 100W and 75W incandescent were also phased out. About a third of consumers plan to stock up on these 60W incandescent lamps while they’re available in stores. Others will reach for halogen or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). What about LEDs? More frequently referred to as LEDs, Light Emitting Diodes are small digital light bulbs that fit into an electrical circuit board and produce light when the correct voltage is applied to them. An LED light source comparable to a 60W incandescent lamp might be around 12.5 Watts. LEDs generally have a higher price tag, but they can actually save you money over time. Not only does an LED light source consume far less energy than a 60W lightbulb, the lifespan of this solid-state technology goes far beyond that of traditional incandescent lamps.  Most LEDs will last at least 10 years and some will last a couple decades. LED lighting is available in different wavelengths, meaning that they’re now offered in a wide range color temperatures like cool “daylight” colors and cozy orange colors you’d expect to come from an incandescent bulb. The infographic below compares Incandescent Lamps with CFL and LED lighting. [1]...

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Surface area needed to power the world with solar?
Dec30

Surface area needed to power the world with solar?

How much surface area would be needed to power the whole world with solar panels? 496,805 Square kilometers or 191,817.483 square miles Just to give you an idea of what this would actually look like, take a look at the image below. This info-graphic shows the cumulative surface area required to power the entire planet with solar in 2030 (678 quadrillion BTU), given that solar panels will have 20% operating efficiencies.  This includes all electrical consumption, down to machinery and...

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Top 10 BIG Businesses Going Solar (Infographic)
Dec12

Top 10 BIG Businesses Going Solar (Infographic)

Agree or disagree: Wal-Mart is a socially-conscious, altruistic corporation that installed 89MW of solar because it was the right thing to do. Let’s put it this way- Walmart wouldn’t install 89 Megawatts of solar (or 3.86 Million 230W solar panels) if it didn’t make financial sense. Wal-Mart now has a greater solar capacity than 38 states combined.  The falling price of PV has allowed companies like Wal-mart to use solar energy to reduce their operating expenses and take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit for renewable energy systems. Wal-Mart isn’t the only corporation that’s caught on.  Some other businesses that are using solar to lower their operating costs include Costco, IKEA, Kohl’s, Apple, Macy’s, Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, Volkswagen, Walgreens, Target, Safeway… the list goes on. Vote Solar’s Executive Director Adam Browning explains, “For years, the promise of solar was always ‘just around the corner.’  Well, solar has turned the corner, and found itself on Main Street, USA. These companies – titans of American business – may have vastly different products, business models, and geographic locations, but they all have something in common: they know a good deal when they see one, and they are going solar in a big way.” Very BIG.   Commercial deployment of solar increased about 40% over last year.   Take a look at this infographic....

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