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Why home solar works better than solar power plants
May27

Why home solar works better than solar power plants

If you’re thinking about making the switch to clean energy, but are waiting for a community solar farm to pop up in your area or a utility company to construct a massive project that harvests the sun, might want to think again.   But first, let’s talk about Blockbuster. Remember them? That blue and yellow chain of video rental stores that could be found in nearly every suburban neighborhood in the 90s?     Yeah, I barely do, either. And that’s because when the internet changed the way people consumed movies, the behemoth company stubbornly refused to shift its model of distribution.     With the conversion rates of people switching to solar becoming more common across the globe, we’ve begun to notice a similar flub on the part of large scale solar production plants.      While these grand undertakings are exponentially better for the environment than their carbon emitting alternatives, recent problems with such projects prove the energy source is much better suited to be captured by autonomous individuals than in concentrated areas on large tracts of land.   This past March a sector of Ivanpah, one of the world’s largest solar power plants, emphasized this point as it went up in flames.     With nearly 200,000 sets of focused mirrors superheating steam to generate electricity and tons of small moving parts, it was a difficult (and expensive) project to keep running smoothly. Add to this the sprawling 3,500 acres of land it takes to house the plant and you’ve racked up a bill costing nearly 20 cents per a kilowatt hour.   Photovoltaic home solar systems on the other hand are much more scalable, only require rooftops or backyards as necessary real estate and have the advantage of making electricity where it is used–reducing its kilowatt per hour cost down to 6 cents or less.   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking about how the public produces, access and consumes electricity....

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Roof Mount Innovations
May19

Roof Mount Innovations

Pigeon coops, gardens, athletic facilities and power generation–over the last century, roof tops have seen a diversification of uses in addition to their job of keeping out nasty weather. When it comes to mounting solar panels on your roof, it’s important to keep in mind its original function, and make sure any new additions don’t stop it from completed its first and foremost job. Staving off the elements is no easy task–sun, rain and wind can damage even the toughest of materials over time, which is why heavy duty shingling and tar are commonly prefered for their robust qualities. Drilling holes to mount solar panels into a roof can compromise the material’s integrity and, sometimes, using the proper mounting technique is not enough. New age solar mounting technology and hardware like those made by our industry favorite, IronRidge anticipate the bad weather a system is likely to encounter and include subtle design features that make a huge difference. The IronRidge FlashFoot attachment, which holds racking mounts to a roof, uses a patented bushing that snuggly compresses into an L-foot cavity. This seal creates a dual shield with complete protection against water intrusion. This small design tweak eliminates the need for depending on caulking, which will eventually dry up, crack and cause leaks. Additionally, the 12 inch flashing support squares that support the attachment have an elevated platform to control watershed so water doesn’t pool up.     The innovation continues with the IronRidge Mounting RX system, which has a curved shape to resist the vertical and lateral pressures that panels might incur due to high winds. Previously, the industry standard was to use flush roof supports and shape the rails square at 90 degrees. Small design design changes such of as these can lead to thousands of dollars in savings on eventual roof repairs.   As the industry continues to grow and mounts become more common, no doubt even more innovations will occur helping our roofs evolve to become one of the home’s most useful...

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The Big Apple’s Sun Farms
May12

The Big Apple’s Sun Farms

2016 has seen an unprecedented surge of solar projects in New York, with federal incentives enticing entrepreneurs to lease remote sites outside the city for community solar installations that can deliver power to the urban population. The growth of solar projects in New York has been on a steady incline according the State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). In 2011 the state saw approximately 9,000 projects producing 80 megawatts of power compared with 2015, which saw 45,000 projects producing 525 megawatts of power.   Growth in 2016 is expected to accelerate even faster in the wake of New York Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which aims to have the state producing more than half its energy from renewable resources by 2030.   Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard includes an array of incentives for residential and commercial installations and has sparked a landrush from businesses looking to get in on supplying clean energy for the city.   While rooftop panels have been the standard for supplying solar energy and are still common, proposals like those seen in the Village of Owego’s project are looking to lease out areas to build solar farms.   The clean energy recipients of the farm-style solar projects vary: some are group projects, some serve commercial users, and some serve municipal users. According to figures from the NYSERDA over 42 applications for farmed solar projects have been submitted at the start of 2016. It remains to be seen, however how well these businesses will do since, unlike fossil fuels, solar is available to anyone who is clever enough to harness it and, currently, so are its...

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Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution
May05

Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution

What do an American worker, a Tea Party activist and a Chinese entrepreneur have in common? They’re all are racing to lead the global future of clean energy and their journeys are featured in Catching the Sun, a new documentary that showcases how doing good by the environment has created a boom in the renewable energy job sector.   “I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that creates economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs,” said Director Shalini Kantayya.   Kantayya’s film jumps between countries around the world that are fast-tracking solar production and follows some of the stories that have unfolded in its wake.   Among these stories are  Zhongwei Jiang’s , an entrepreneur in Wuxi, China, who grew up without electricity until he was 7. In 2003 Jiang took out a small interest loan from the Chinese government to start a solar company WesTech, which has grown by 50% every year and has expanded to Germany.   Other stories include those of solar installers in America who’ve found job opportunities in the burgeoning industry and a mayor who has fought tooth and nail against an oil corporation’s interests after a spill devastated her town.   The movie shows how one out of 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2014 was in the solar industry as a result from nearly 784,000 homes and businesses in the country embracing solar to save money and elevate property values.   Catching the Sun can be viewed on Netflix, downloaded on Vimeo or seen at select screenings taking place around the country....

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Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest
Apr28

Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest

  Of the three presidential candidates hoping to secure the oval office in 2016, Bernie Sanders’ advocacy of solar initiatives outshines his competitors Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.   As for the latter, Mr. Trump, who believes that climate change is a conspiracy theory and has publicized his dislike of clean energy, the policy agendas between him and Sanders are flagrant; while the differences between Sanders and his party opponent Clinton are less obvious, though still substantial.   Both Sanders and Clinton have publicized plans to transition the country’s energy from fossil fuels to renewable options, but unlike Clinton, Sanders’ plan openly opposes the fossil fuel industry by aiming to rid politics of corporate lobbyists, ban fracking and exploration for oil on public lands. Clinton, on the other hand, whose campaign has taken money from the fossil fuel industry, has avoided outright attacks on it, instead focusing on large government incentives to urge more people to convert to solar.   A look at both candidates’ plans reveals that Sanders is much more detailed when it comes to how he aims to steer Americans to become 100 percent dependent on renewable energy. He also, touches on issues such as bringing the United States’ transportation emissions to zero and taking a much more aggressive position in the global theater to reduce greenhouse gasses–all of which are absent on Clinton’s side.   Sanders’ past political initiatives leave little room for doubt that he will fight for his vision. In 2015 he introduced the Low Income Solar Act, which would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to make solar more accessible to low-income families and communities.   Then there’s the fact that the environmental super PAC Climate Hawks listed Sanders as the No. 1 climate leader in the Senate for the 113th Congress and endorsed him as its choice for president.   Though Sanders is currently trailing in the primary elections behind Clinton, his efforts have given voice to millions of supporters that are not shy to demand better environmental policies from their government.        ...

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