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solar panels at the famous Hollywood sign?

Today, on Earth Day we had the chance to talk to the Hollywood Sign Trust of putting solar panels on the Hollywood sign, In my opinion the Trust was most engaged when we showed them the 3D renderings which featured four designs of how the Hollywood Sign and solar panels could co-exist. The solar electric systems we proposed are grid connected, meaning the energy is transferred into the network, the community can benefit from the power especially when there is peak demand. Grid connected systems also help California reach it’s RPS (renewable energy portfolio standard) a requirement for CA to generate power from clean renewable resources. Hillside Ground Mounted Solar Array: The most practical concept that is very common on hillside solar panel installations through out the world. This deployment of solar panels is the most technically feasible and has the highest probability to be a safe,code compliant installation that can generate the most watts per square foot. Solar Trees: Pole mounted solar arrays are a common practice in the solar industry. These components are available in the marketplace. The advantages of a pole mounted system it’s raised above the ground to reduce accessibility to the public also the solar panels can be adjusted to the optimal orientation and pitch to maximize energy harvest. Solar “Lilly Pads” Circular solar panels that sit beneath the sign. These type of solar panels do not exist in the marketplace although they can be fabricated using UL and IEEE approved photovoltaic material. The difficult aspect of this layout would be connecting each panel together since they would be sitting far apart. Since the panels sit on the ground it would require maintenance of the vegetation growth from shading the solar panels. The national electric code is unclear of how it would apply to a solar panel that lays on the ground. This concept is more of an idea than a practical solution. The Invisible Hand: Building Integrated Photovoltaics is the art of integrating solar cells into the facade of a building. In this design the white paint of the sign actually has nano solar cells that generate clean power. This technology is still in the pipeline, although once solar nano paint technology is out of the lab, its going to change the possiblities of what we can do with solar power, any facade can be converted into an energy producing asset. It is still unclear what rules will be imposed by the national electric code governing paint with solar cells. This concept is the furthest from practicality at this point in time. I want to know what you think? Which concept do you...

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how much is spam emails costing us electrically?

Computers are one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world. In fact, Google is the largest energy consumer in the world, since to run their search engine business needs a vast empire of servers that run 24/7 to meet the demands of the information age. But how about spam? I’m talking about those junk emails we get all day. Not only do these pesky emails limit our productivity but they waste tons electricity according to a study published by McAfee. According to their study worldwide spam emails waste enough electricity to power 2.4 million homes which is equivalent to 33 billion kWh (kilowatt-hours) consumed. But how does Spam email waste electricity? You have to first understand how email works, when you send a message it has to go through the network, which is a series of wires, switches, router and servers connected together. As your message travels through the internet (the network) its requiring those components to consume electricity, follow me here? All this wasted electricity cause by spam acutally increases our carbon emissions thus having a significant negative impact on our environment. What do you think? Is spam really contributing to the energy crisis or is this just “green washing” to sell more spam filter software? You be the...

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the king of beers, the king of solar?

On a lighter note, Budweiser the king of beers announced they’re the king of solar by installing a 6 acre solar photovoltaic array at their Fairfield brewery. The 1.2 MW (megawatt) solar electric system will provide about 3% of the brewery’s electric needs. It sounds like the solar panels aren’t contributing much but you have to take into consideration these breweries consume tremendous amounts of energy. The company incurred no upfront cost for the large solar electric system since it was financed through a PPA (power purchasing agreement) by SunEdison. A PPA is a financial contract to help large organizations reduce their electric bills by letting a third party own and operate the solar electric system and purchase the electricity per kWh (kilowatt-hour) at a price competitive to utility...

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the rural energy for america program

If your a farmer, rancher or rural small businesses, you’re in luck. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development will pay you to install solar panels, wind turbines or invest into energy efficiency upgrades. Recently Coble and Sons ranch took advantage of the USDA incentive program to install a SkyStream 3.7 wind power systems to power two ¾ horsepower submersible pumps for livestock water wells and a 15-hp electric turbine irrigation pump. Since installing the SkyStream 3.7 wind turbines Coble and Sons reduced their electric bill by a third. At average wind speeds of 23mph the SkyStream 3.7 is capable of producing 9kWh (depending on the tower height and other project site considerations) Through the generous Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency incentive program offered by the USDA, Coble and Sons ranch received $14,725 to offset the cost of installing the SkyStream 3.7 wind power systems. The great aspect of the Skystream 3.7 wind turbine, is it’s a complete wind power system that includes a built in grid tie inverter and starts generating electricity at wind speeds as low as 8MPH. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) admistered by the USDA will give away $55 million this year, so if your interested in taking advantage of the program take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development...

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suntech increases solar cell efficiency

Today, Suntech a Chinese solar panel manufacturer released news about their next generation solar cell technology called Pluto which has efficiencies of 19% (monocrystalline) and 17% (polycrystalline). Suntech sent the Pluto based solar cells to Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, which independently tested the the solar cells and verified the efficiency ratings. Currently, suntech solar panels out on the market have solar cells that have efficiencies of 16.5% and 15.5% respectively. It seems like Suntech is trying to catch up with the higher efficiency solar panels such as the Sanyo and SunPower solar panels. Although you have to take into consideration that solar cell efficiency is not the same as solar panel efficiency. Since a group of solar cells make up a solar panel, when solar cells are wired together, they lose efficiency. Currently Sanyo 200w solar panels are 17% efficient at the solar panel level. Also the temperature coefficient (how well the solar panel perform in hot temperatures) determine how many kWh (kilowatt-hours) you will produce per year. Even though Suntech Pluto solar cell technology is getting better, it’s far from being the best on the market. Currently, I would say Sanyo solar panels are the best on the market, since of their high efficiencies at the solar panel level and their better performance in hot weather, they peform very well in real world conditions. These efficiency tests Suntech did in the lab are not going to be as good in the real world. What do you think about Suntech solar...

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your light switch is your vote

Earth Hour 2009 is just around the corner, If you haven’t heard about the yearly phenomenon, let me explain. Earth Hour is a annual event in which people around the globe to reduce electrical consumption by powering down their buildings from 8:30p to 9:30p, the impact Earth Hour has on the world is amazing, even if it’s just a one hour blackout, the global event results an enormous amounts of kWh (kilowatt-hours) conserved. How many negawatts will the world create by saving energy for one hour? Energy conservation has direct bottom line impact to our environment. I suppose Earth Hour is a fun way for people to realize that conserving energy is the first step towards solving our environmental problems. Earth Hour is the only annual celebration with the theme of saving energy and major cities around the world will be hosting Earth Hour celebrations to promote the cause. You can learn more about Earth Hour celebrations near you here in the US by checking out the official website. Here in L.A. we’re preparing for one of the largest Earth Hour events. I found out about the L.A. Earth Hour event by one of the people behind the scenes, Mike Bonifer of Game Changers who is working creatively to promote and educate people about the event and why it’s important for everyone to participate on this historic day. What are you doing for Earth Hour? Will you be turning off the lights? If your going to be heading out to Turn Out, L.A. please contact...

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