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Hillary Clinton’s Sunny Side
Apr26

Hillary Clinton’s Sunny Side

As the dust for the 2016 presidential primaries settles, we’re left with three likely White House hopefuls–Trump, Clinton and Sanders–whose views on solar could steer industry policies in different directions. Earlier this month we reviewed the republican front runner Donald Trump’s inimical position towards renewable power, which is in stark contrast his possible democratic challengers Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. This week we’ll look at the Democratic party front runner, Hillary Clinton, who has aligned herself as a champion of the sun: To start, there’s her ambitious vision to produce enough clean energy to power all homes by 2027. The plan, a free PDF of which can be found by googling “Hillary Clinton Green Energy Plan”, calls for installing more than half a billion solar panels on homes by the end of her first term. It will also “aggressively” seek to extend Obama’s Clean Power Plan, cutting carbon emissions from power plants and aiming to reduce the country’s overall emissions to 30% of its 2005 levels.  The United States currently generates about 21 gigawatts of solar energy. To deliver on her goals, Clinton aims to bring this number to 140 gigawatts by 2020–more than double the industry’s projected growth should it stay on its current course: Clinton’s voting record and public tweets leave little room to doubt she will be a much more favorable candidate for the clean energy sector than her opponent Trump; though her party opponent, Sanders, has a track record that proves him to be as (if not more) favorable an...

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Self Install Tips and Tricks
Mar31

Self Install Tips and Tricks

When it comes to do-it-yourself projects like converting your home to solar, tapping into that “handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun” can at times seem an overwhelming project to undertake.   However, the benefits can equate to over a 50% savings in setup costs (not to mention well deserved bragging rights), which is enough to appeal to many a handy person to strap on their tool belt and give it a shot.     If you’re the type who enjoys taking on such ambitious projects, we’ve compiled a few basic tips and tricks that will hopefully save you time and frustration down the road: Divide by 4: The goal isn’t to cover every square inch of roof with as many panels as it can fit, but rather enough panels to meet your energy consumption.   A quick way to estimate how much energy you will need your panels to produce is to look at your energy bill, take your highest kilowatt usage and divide by four.   Four is the low-end estimate of average peak sunlight hours in most places on earth. Many places such as California and Arizona will get more than this, but staying conservative with your calculations of how much sunlight you expect the panels to receive is always a better call.   For example, the average U.S. household uses around 30 kw of energy a day according the US EIA and, at worst, probably gets around 4 peak sunlight hours, it would be safe to assume such a household will need enough panels to harvest around 7.5 Kws of power a day.      If you want to get specific with your calculations you can check out the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Isolation Map to see how much light your longitude and latitude can expect to receive during the year.   Aim for the equator: When determining where to point your solar panels, a good starting point is to face them towards the equator.   With this general bearing in mind, do some research to determine if there are any shade obstructions in the area from mountains, trees or neighboring structures that might merit slightly shifting the direction of the panels to the east or west in order to collect the most sunlight.   If you can’t find an area that will always be shade free during peak hours, consider installing micro-inverters or power optimizers on your panels so you don’t dampen the power output of your entire system.   Hire a professional to create a permit package: We know, you want to do this project yourself otherwise you wouldn’t be scrolling...

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Cash in on net-metering while you still can!
Mar14

Cash in on net-metering while you still can!

The rationality of net-metering is hard to deny: If your home generates more energy than it consumes and that energy is added back into the grid, it’s only fair you should be compensated for the contribution. However utility companies, who usually end up footing the bill, are of a different opinion. As of January 2016 more than half of the 40 U.S. states with net-metering incentives have had their policies come under scrutiny. At the start of the year, homeowners in California breathed a collective sigh of relief as state regulators narrowly voted to uphold the existing net-metering benefits. However their neighboring solar enthusiasts in the state of Nevada weren’t so lucky. As more people are switching to using solar and generating their own power, state regulators have been forced to balance on a high wire of encouraging the trend while also pacifying the big energy companies that power houses during non-daylight hours. Check out the map below to see if you’re in one of the blue states where net-metering incentives are still applicable. If you are, and haven’t yet made the switch to solar, time might be running out to cash in on making more sun energy than you...

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What’s in a Gigawatt?
Mar11

What’s in a Gigawatt?

In the power industry, the word “gigawatts” is thrown around like confetti during New Years. But if you’re like most people, you might only have a vague idea about what a gigawatt actually is. And, if we’re being honest, mostly likely the only reference for that power measurement is a mad scientist named Doc:   So let’s set the record straight and unravel the mystery of gigawatts…besides 1.21 of them being able to launch a 1988 Delorean back to the future.   Starting with the latin root “giga” we can deduce that: 1 gigawatt (gw) = 1 million kilowatts (kw) = 100 million watts (w)   One gigawatt also happens to power about 700,000 homes a day, each consuming a monthly average of about 911 kw according to the US Energy Information Association. To produce this much energy with coal takes about 4.7 tons of the stuff–about the same weight as an adult elephant. Luckily for us, people have stopped ignoring this dirty elephant in the room and are harnessing the cleaner and more affordable energy of the sun. In 2015, the Solar Energy Industries Association calculated the United States reached a total of 24.1 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. 24.1 Gigawatts! That’s enough energy to send Doc through the space time continuum 19 times. To put things in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration says the average nuclear reactor in the United States produces between 11,000 to 100,000 Megawatts of energy per a day. A facility like the Hoover Dam produces between 1 to 2 gigawatts of energy per a day depending on its water level (which has become increasingly low). US Bureau of Reclamation And about 5,000 hamsters running on a wheel will produce enough energy to power the average...

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#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations
Mar03

#DIY | Do It Yourself Solar Installations

Solar panels are a smart investment for modern, eco-conscious homeowners, but many people feel inhibited by the cost of installation. Fortunately, materials are starting to decrease in price and installation is becoming more manageable. At Modernize, we are watching homeowners reap the rewards of solar energy while saving thousands of dollars by tackling large scope projects like this on their own. If you are relatively handy, have a Smart Phone or Internet access, and are ready to harness the sun’s abundant energy for your home, it’s time to consider DIY solar installation. Know How Are you comfortable working with wiring? Safety is always the first priority in any home improvement project. Make sure you are well-versed with the dos and don’ts of high voltage wiring before attempting this project. Determining the correct panel placement and angle to harness maximum energy is pivotal. Precision is key to making this project worth your time and money. In addition to handy know-how, you also need to be prepared to navigate compliance laws and obtain permits before beginning your project. If you have the time and resources to do your own research and legwork, you will save the cost of hiring a company paying multiple people to perform these duties. Help From The Internet If you have Internet access, you have help with your installation. There really is an app for almost anything. Search for online calculators to determine the size of the kit that you will need, based on information found on your utility bills.   Measuring Solar Energy Savings Once your solar panels are installed, you will want to see how long it takes to recoup the cost of the materials. While you will save thousands of dollars by installing your solar panels yourself, this project will still be costly up front—but it won’t be long before you break even, and possibly profit from the investment.   After installing home solar, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit, and possibly a state tax credit. Be sure to research your state’s requirements, as some do require that the installation is performed by licensed installers. If these incentives are awarded, a sizable percentage may be recouped right off the bat. Finally, the value of your home will increase substantially with the addition of solar panels. A buyer’s offer may pay for your project in full if the attractive feature of energy-saving, money-saving solar panels sparks a bidding war. Research Make sure you have all of your research done before spending a dime on this project. You want to be sure that you are capable of handling the project in its entirety....

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