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Californians leading the country in solar panel installations

image credit: “SMA Solar Technology AG”. In 2008, Californians installed double the capacity of solar power then the year before according to a report released today by the the California Solar Initiative (CSI). Homes and businesses installed 158 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity last year, despite the recession there is still a strong demand for residential solar electric systems. In December 2008 a record number of Californians put in rebate reservation forms, to secure incentives for their solar electric systems. Solar energy is not only successful in California because of it’s sunny climate, but more importantly the rebates they offer. For example, even though Los Angeles has more solar irradiation then San Fransisco, SF has more solar panels installs than LA. Since SF gives out a rebate on top of the CA state rebate and federal tax credit. Incentives are driving the demand for solar panels here in California. Other states have not put together incentive programs that can match California’s rebate program, why do you think that is? With record corporate layoffs this week and the economy continuing on a downward trend, what do you think is in store for solar power in california this...

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350w RSi SuperPV Glass displayed at go green expo

Over the weekend I stopped by the go green expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The most interesting solar power product I saw was the Rainbow Solar Incorporated (RSi) SuperPV Glass, which the company calls the “window of the future”. There are a few companies in the solar industry that are working on Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) which means implementing solar cells into existing building materials. What makes the PV Glass from RSi Solar unique is the company claims the 350w Solar PV Glass can not only produce electricity from sunlight but also generate electricity from the heat. Traditionally heat has been a problem for solar cells, since performance decreases as solar temperature increases, how does RSi turn the heat into electricity? That is pretty phenomenal, wouldn’t you agree? RSi representatives would not comment on how the panel RSi also had a thin film SolarPV Glass on display which allowed light to pass through but still generates electricity. According to the company the solar glass product line has efficiencies between 12 to 13%. Don’t expect RSi to sell their unique SolarPV Glass products directly to you, because they are in the business of licensing their technology to glass manufacturers who will turn the technology into finalized products. What do you think? Are you looking at the “window of the...

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small solar panels make a big impact

I wanted to take today to highlight the important work of one of our 501(c)3 non-profit customers the Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation based out Sequim, Washington. The organization’s mission is to improve the lives of the indigenous young women of the Mujeres de Maíz en Resistencia Cooperative in one of the poorest states in Mexico called Chiapas. The cooperative is a group of seamstresses from eight villages in Chiapas, who get together every couple months to exchange knowledge and practice computer skills. Many of the streamstresses have to sew through the night which is difficult due to the lack of electrical power, which forces the streamstresses to use expensive and dangerous kerosene lamps. The Mujeres de Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation took an interesting approach to solve the lighting problem for the streamstresses by donating Everlite Solar Compact Spotlights which are basically a highly efficient LED light with a nickel-metal hydride battery and small solar panel. Now, thanks to the Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation, the streamstresses have access to solar electricity which replaces kerosene oil, an expensive item for the poor women to purchase. This is a great example how even the smallest scale of solar power can make a big impact for people in developing countries, don’t you agree? I think solar power has the largest opportunity to help the billions of people in the world who have no access to power, what do you think? Make a donation to Mujeres de Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation, as you can see from the foundation’s work they can turn a small donation into a big difference. A little money goes a long way in...

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wind turbines present at Obama’s inaugural

(Photo: Business Wire) The United States Botanic Garden a couple blocks away from today’s historic inaugural for quite some time have had two wind turbines installed, although today they got special attention from the president himself as he mentioned solar and wind power in his acceptance speech. Hopefully the millions of people who went to Capitol Hill for Obama’s inaugural noticed the Skystream 3.7 and Mariah Power’s Windspire small scale wind power systems. The Skystream 3.7 shown in the picture above is a horizontal axis wind generator which has a built in grid tie inverter. The generator makes most financial sense in regions which have at least 10MPH average wind speeds. The Skystream 3.7 also has the ability to wirelessely transmit inverter data which enables the owner to monitor the performace of their wind power system through their computer. (Photo: Business Wire) Mariah Power’s Windspire on the other hand is a vertical axis wind turbine is a complete 1.2 kW wind power “appliance”, which includes the turbine, generator, grid tie inverter, pole and stand, WiFi to monitor performance and a 5-year warranty. Even though this wind turbine looks really great, there is one drawback to this new style, it has limited initial test data, therefore customers are early adopters of vertical axis wind turbines. Hopefully Obama’s administration can secure the capital it needs to execute projects that support the development of a renewable energy market in America which will enable more homes and businesses across America to use the small scale wind power systems to contribute to the grid versus being a liability to it. What do you...

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solar power lab at arizona state university

Arizona’s solar dream of becoming a leader of solar power is one step closer today. Arizona State University (ASU) opened a photovoltaic (pv) testing facility back in 1992. Although, today ASU announced a partnership with TUV Rheinland Group, a German testing company has upgraded ASU’s old testing center into a world class certification lab for solar electric products. Researchers at the lab are testing solar panels for their resistance to hail, rain, frost, falling objects, power output and efficiencies. The solar researchers are putting solar panels to the test in the lab not holding back by taking each product through the extremes to make sure the products used to provide your home or business clean energy are going to perform as expected. This is such a great resource for the solar industry and consumers alike, reliable information needs to be accessible for people to make confident decisions in solar electric products. I really want to visit the new TUV Rheinland PTL lab and get a first hand experience of vigorous tests that solar panels are put through. What types of test would you like solar electric systems to go...

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solar panel sales up, even with lower gas prices

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about people making assumptions the economy and low gas prices are crippling solar panel sales. That’s untrue, because there is an increased tax credit for homeowners who install solar electric systems, on top of that more states and even some progressive cities are offering people rebates. I think some optimistic customers who are on the fence of buying a solar electric system are expecting Obama to release even more money to encourage people to buy solar. Do you think Obama will stimulate solar sales? Not to add this year solar panel prices are expected to drop significantly, which will also increase the demand. Gas prices are not related to electric rates, for example even though oil prices have bottomed out the price for groceries are still higher then ever before. The point I am trying to make is that electric rates are not forecasted to drop anytime soon, in fact I have seen many utilities announcing rate hikes. What do you think, will more people go solar in 2009 then last...

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