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SunPowered Robots Taking Over?
Nov08

SunPowered Robots Taking Over?

Yes, robots.  There are robots cleaning solar panels. SunPower, a leading solar company that designs and manufactures solar technologies, has announced their acquisition of GreenBotics, Inc., a company based out of Davis, California that offers a robotic solar panel cleaning service. Soiling is a build-up of particles on solar panels, which can be dirt, dust, and even bird droppings.  For most photovoltaic systems it would make sense to use pressure washers, solar panel cleaning kits, hoses, and cleaning solutions to remove soiling. It can be a challenge, however, maintain large-scale photovoltaic plants without an equally robust cleaning solution.  Losing up to 15% of the output from a multi-megawatt photovoltaic plant is a BIG hit financially. Often times, photovoltaic plants end up in dry, desert climates that are prone to dust. Dust = Soiling = Lost $ See the machine in action: To combat this problem, GreenBotics introduced their robotic solution that systematically cleans large-scale photovoltaic plants, which reduces water waste and much of the labor cost of cleaning these systems.  These robots will be used throughout SunPower’s projects and will be particularly advantageous for solar power plants in the Middle East, the western United States and Chile.   Tom Werner, president and CEO of SunPower, speaks of the acquisition of GreenBotics and how this will add value to their company and help reduce waste: “Customers in markets such as the Western U.S., the Middle East and Chile will especially benefit, as dust and debris is a challenge and water is in shorter supply.  We are very pleased to add the valuable services offered by Greenbotics to our energy services offerings.”  The cost of photovoltaic panels has become cheaper over time, and now the maintenance of large-scale systems is being optimized. Could robotics be the next big shift for solar?...

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Look at Solar in 2013
Oct31

Look at Solar in 2013

Visualize what’s happening with solar right now. Q2 2013 was solar’s second largest quarter yet and we’re looking at wrapping up another record-breaking year.   The cost of an average solar panel has declined by over 60% since 2011.   These falling prices, along with new financing options, has made solar more attractive to financially savvy homeowners.   Even investors like Warren Buffett and corporations like Walmart putting their money into solar energy. With over 9.3 Megawatts of installed solar in the United States, there’s currently enough solar capacity to power over 1.5 million homes in the country.  The progress that solar has made in the last few years alone is evidence that the U.S. electricity market is in the early phase of an all-encompassing transition towards clean energy. Check out this infographic, which is a year-end estimate based on research from GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries...

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Don’t Miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013!
Oct17

Don’t Miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013!

Solar Power International (SPI) October 21-24, 2013 McCormick Place 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60616 United States In 2012, PV installations grew a head-turning 76 %.    Q3 of 2013 has surpassed that of last year and experts suggest that photovoltaics will have grown 29% over 2013.  Solar professionals will be meeting to discuss the future of solar, attend educational seminars, exchange ideas, and show off the latest in solar technology. Don’t miss Solar Power International (SPI) 2013, this four-day B2B solar trade show and conference with presentations from industry leaders and networking opportunities with solar professionals from more than 75 countries.   Over 15,000 solar industry professionals will gather in Chicago next week to see loads of solar exhibits spread out over 300,000 square feet. Everything from racking to solar cells to inverters will be on display. While you’re cruising around the trade show floor, keep your eyes peeled for the new Enphase M250 microinverter. Some big-name booths to check out include: Fronius USA Morningstar Corp. TUV Rheinland Solectria Renewables Fronius USA There will also be an official SPI 2013 Solar Tweet up at at Kitty O’Shea’s (Chicago Hilton), where you can meet up with industry leaders, including Solar Fred and representatives from GoGreenSolar.com....

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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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