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Visit the Solar Decathalon in Irvine!
Oct04

Visit the Solar Decathalon in Irvine!

Despite the government shutdown that’s taking place, college students from throughout the country to participate in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Come to Great Park in Irvine, CA this weekend  to see 20 modern energy-efficient homes, fully equipped with solar energy systems to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions. Solar Decathlon Village College students from throughout the U.S. are competing in a series of competitions to test the performance of these energy-efficient homes they built from the ground up. The Solar Decathlon, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy, gives university students hands-on training with renewable energy and building environmentally sustainable infrastructure. This event is free to the public, so come out any time from 11:00am to 7:00pm Friday through Sunday.  The Solar Decathlon will also be open for public tours next weekend (October 10th-13th). We’ll be there next week, so let us know if you want to meet up! For more information on this event, please visit www.solardecathlon.gov. ______________ Tom Jackson...

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AB 327: Solar Friend or Foe?
Oct01

AB 327: Solar Friend or Foe?

Recently-amended energy bill, AB 327, awaits signature from Governor Brown Just a couple of months ago, California Assembly Bill 327 was met with fierce criticism from solar advocates throughout California. It was this rallying cry of opposition, however, that ultimately resulted in key revisions to this bill, which are a step in the right direction for rooftop solar. Though this bill is by no means perfect, the amendments made to AB 327 are a testament to the growing power of the solar industry and allies of renewable energy in California. Net-Metering: Investor-Owned Utilities vs. The Solar Industry? To give you a little background, AB 327 will determine what happens to residential energy rate structures in California, including the state’s popular net metering program. Net metering allows residents to receive financial compensation for the excess power generated by their grid-tied solar systems.  When the consumer gets paid for the electricity that’s sent back into the utility grid, it means a greater return on their investment. Net-metering is a monetary incentive for homeowners to get solar on their roofs. Since state policies like this make “going solar” more attractive to potential solar customers, the solar industry has been fighting to keep it around. Being required to pay residential customers for this electricity isn’t really in the best interest of an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), which has a responsibility to their share-holders to maximize profit. The fate of California’s net-metering policy has been uncertain until recently, as it was set to expire at the end of 2013.  California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have been at odds with the solar industry, which came to head with AB 327. Utility rate structure that solar advocates were criticizing in AB 327: 1. AB 327 will flatten the rates for customers paying for electricity in the higher tiers on their electric bills.   This means that customers who consume significantly higher amounts of energy (kWh) would be paying less than they currently do. 2. AB 327 would also allow utilities to impose a flat rate of up to $10 per month on residential customers, regardless of their net consumption. By decreasing the cost for excessive energy consumption, AB 327 would have made investing in a PV system attractive to potential solar customers paying these high-tier rates. AB 327 would mean that a residential customer, whose net consumption is minimal due to a solar system, could have to pay the utility company a flat rate every month. This could amount to an extra $120 annually, regardless of how much solar power the system was actually generating. One of the main criticisms of this bill is that it would make...

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Will solar prices increase soon?
Jul23

Will solar prices increase soon?

Representatives from GoGreenSolar.com just attended InterSolar North America, one of solar’s leading networking events.  Businesses from more than 70 countries met in San Francisco to showcase new technologies, watch presentations, network, and discuss the future of solar.       Having had the opportunity to talk with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers, we’ve discovered some key information that suggests that the days of low solar panel prices might soon be coming to a close.  Though no one has a crystal ball, industry-insiders believe that the prices for solar modules will be going up soon, meaning that the days of  $0.72 / Watt solar panels may not be around much longer.  Over the last several years, the surplus of solar panels being manufactured drove margins down, consequently pushing multiple manufacturing companies out of business.  While solar panels continue to get cheaper to produce, this consolidation process is now helping manufacturers that are left in the game. If you recall the trade scuffle we talked about this last year, the Chinese government was found to be providing illegal subsidies, allowing their manufacturers to sell their products below fair market value in the United States. In response, the U.S. government imposed anti-dumping tariffs of roughly 30% on Chinese solar cells.  As you might expect, Chinese manufacturers have been circumnavigating these duties by manufacturing solar cells outside China.  Taiwan, which now manufactures these cells, is now having difficulty keeping up with the increase in demand.  This could cause prices to increase. As the dominant solar panel manufacturer in the world, China recently swung back at the U.S. by implementing their own import duties on polysilicon coming from the United States.  Because this is a raw material used to make solar panels, this new tariff could also drive up the cost of solar panels. Though these issues may indicate a coming increase in solar panel pricing, even manufacturers can’t foresee what will happen several months into the future.  As you might imagine, this can pose a problem for solar projects that are scheduled months if not years into the future.  Imagine a multi-MegaWatt solar project- even a matter of a few cents would make a massive difference.   For a homeowner looking into a residential application, several cents per Watt isn’t exactly pocket change. While prices are still low, request a no obligation solar quote or call 1 (866) 798-4435. _____ Tom Jackson...

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5 Companies That Are Making Huge Energy Pushes
Jul22

5 Companies That Are Making Huge Energy Pushes

Some companies are fine with the status quo. Others are making a huge push toward sustainability. Here are 5 companies truly focused on energy savings and sustainable practices. 1. Sierra Nevada Why not start the list of sustainable companies with a beer manufacturer? Image via Flickr by USFWS Mountain Prairie Sierra Nevada puts most companies to shame. The company generates 20 percent of its own electricity with 10,573 solar panels. It creates another 40 percent with hydrogen fuel cells. The brewery has also found ways to reduce energy consumption. Efficient lights, motion sensors, timers, and large windows for ample natural light help the company use less energy. The company has even built a train track, so it can bring ingredients right to its factory using the most energy-efficient transportation options. 2. Umicore Umicore has earned respect as one of the world’s most sustainable companies. If you haven’t heard of Umicore, it’s a Belgian company that works in the materials industry. It focuses on performance materials, recycling, energy materials, and catalysis. The company stands out because of its commitment to sustainability of all kinds. It has a company-wide program tasked with meeting standards that exceed those set by any government agency. Umicore isn’t just trying to brand itself as a “green business,” either. Its program holds the Executive Committee responsible for meeting objectives in energy use, greenhouse gas production, and product sustainability. It also has a team that monitors and follows up on claims to make sure the standards are met. 3. The Energy Detective The Energy Detective does more than try to reduce its own energy use. It helps others reduce the amount of energy that they use. This company creates products that let homeowners and businesses measure their electricity usage. The interesting thing is that it does this in a way you can actually understand. Yes, it will tell you how many kilowatt hours you use, but it will also tell you how much money that costs. It will even give you a projected bill for the month. Sometimes you need to see the numbers before you realize how much electricity you’re wasting. 4. Google Image via Flickr by apoyopublicacion This popular search engine requires a massive framework of data centers to withstand the workload of millions and millions of daily searches, most of which are completed in less than a second. These data centers can eat up massive amounts of energy, but companies like Google are taking an approach that works smarter. Not only does Google utilize renewable energy sources to power this operation, but they’ve taken innovation a step further. In 2009, Google purchased the Summa...

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Solar Industry Breaking Power Records, Laying Off Workers
Jun20

Solar Industry Breaking Power Records, Laying Off Workers

The solar power industry has come a long way from the days when solar-powered calculators were considered high-tech in the late 1970s. These systems, now totaling 3.3 gigawatts of power, were installed in 2012; enough to power a half-million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. The industry now employs 119,000 workers, an increase of 13 percent from 2011. The 76 percent increase in available power, along with the jobs being created as a result,  have not necessarily translated into a financial and industrial coup d’etat for solar energy. Several companies, large and small, have been forced to file bankruptcy as a result of declining prices for solar equipment and the subsequent contraction of profit margins. The lower prices can be credited (or blamed, depending on your viewpoint) on solar producers in China, who pass along cheap labor to the price of the finished products. Still, some of China’s largest solar panel makers are also filing for bankruptcy. Fallout From Bankruptcies Solopower, headquartered in San Jose, is the latest casualty in a string of solar companies that received federal subsidies, yet is still filing for bankruptcy. The company announced it will file bankruptcy, but did not indicate how many workers would lose their jobs as a result. The Daily Caller estimates the number of solar companies that have filed for bankruptcy is more than 50, despite all of them receiving federal funds. It is impossible to know the exact number of jobs that will be lost as a result of bankruptcies, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics no longer tracks green jobs in America. The government grants were meant to create jobs and reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. But it has, so far, only created jobs that are subsequently lost when a company goes under. The U.S. continues to import more solar panels from China, while gas prices have finally steadied after rising everyday from late January to late February. The macroeconomic effects do not tell the full story of what is happening on Main Street. Those who have lost their jobs are not only contributing to the rise in unemployment claims, but are forced to apply for a cash advance or another provider to cover immediate expenses. Solar is Still Beneficial Despite all the issues within the industry, solar power is still a very good investment for home owners. Residents who install solar before the end of 2016 will receive a personal federal tax credit of 30 percent, on top of any municipal and state incentives. The amount of money you can save each year on utility bills varies, depending on the system you install and...

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Solar Energy in the Classroom?

GoGreenSolar.com has partnered with Solar Installation Model Unit, or SIMU, to be the vendor for a solar-inspired education program that SolSolution will develop for and with Boston Green Academy (BGA).   The joint team has created a SIMU Fundly campaign to support and fund the purchase and development of an awesome educational-based solar photovoltaic system for BGA’s students to learn all about solar power. The goal is to raise $3,000 by July 15. That gives ample time for BGA and SolSolution to bring this all together over the summer and bring SIMU to BGA in the 2013-2014 school year. To find out more details, visit the SIMU page and click to support the campaign. Donations to this campaign will not only go towards the following components of the educational program: ? Purchasing and design of the SIMU units ? Fund the collaborative development of an interactive science curriculum associated with SIMU ? Support Boston Green Academy’s charter to prepare its students as leaders in environmental stewardship and activism ? Continue to energize SolSolution’s mission to provide clean energy for education  BGA and SolSolution see an exciting opportunity to not only teach students how solar PV systems work but also galvanize students to improve, optimize, and design better performing, higher efficiency renewable energy projects. Moreover, these educational SIMU will give BGA students the knowledge and skills to lead the analysis and design of a future solar project on their own school in the future. Join us today, and help bring SIMU to BGA! Support SIMU Here Boston Green Academy and SolSolution  Boston Green Academy is located in the heart of South Boston and serves about 340 students in grades 9-12, 83% of whom are living at or below the federal poverty line. As the only school with an expressed commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership in the Boston Public Schools system, BGA is eager to lead the way for the development of a next generation learning experience that prepares its students to succeed in the burgeoning 21st century green economy. SolSolution is the only non-profit solar provider for schools out there.  The heart of SolSolution’s business and operations is our mission to give schools the resources and support they desperately need to educate students. As school budgets are being cut left and right, SolSolution has come up with an innovative business model that not only operates sustainably and helps the environment, but also saves schools money and gives back to the classrooms that need it...

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