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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   When it comes to solar, it’s not hard to imagine a future where the outdated energy production models of the 20th century have gone the way of Blockbuster, and the companies that come out on top are the ones that shift their thinking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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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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interconnection agreement 101

If you’re considering to grid tie your wind turbine or solar panels, you need to understand the interconnection agreement. Since your clean energy system will interact directly with the grid it will require you to enter into an agreement with your utility company. The interconnection agreement covers the terms and conditions of the clean energy system which will be interconnected. Specifically these agreements contain information about the technical specifications, safety, power quality, building permit required and insurance information. To ensure success of your grid tie wind turbine or solar panel project obtaining and reviewing the interconnectionagreement at the start of your project. Each utility has their own interconnection agreement, so its best to call your electric utility and ask for a copy of their agreement. There is a national standard when it comes to connecting to the grid and many utilities are following the standards. The standards of connecting to the grid focus on the grid tie inverter meeting both UL and IEEE standards. An inverter that is listed UL 1741 has “utility interactive” printed on the case which signifies that the inverter is fully compatible with IEEE 1547...

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top 5 advantages of grid tie solar power

Simple grid tie solar power systems without batteries have their advantages. This post will review the top 5 advantages of connecting your solar panels up directly to the grid without the use of batteries: Economics – Since grid tie solar power systems do not need batteries, this type of system is at least 30% less to install versus a battery based system. Typically simple grid tie systems are 90% to 95% efficient which makes the rate of return more attractive since solar electric systems with batteries are less efficient overall. Lower upfront cost – Batteryless grid connected systems avoid costs for batteries, charge controllers, control panels, and a backup generator, thus reducing the upfront cost of going solar significantly. Grid tie solar panel systems are expandable, meaning you can start a small solar array and build your way up to a larger system that increases your energy independence. Reliable – Maintenance is required with a battery based system and if they are not properly maintained then the life of the battery will rapidly diminish. Simple grid tie systems are more reliable since you don’t have to worry about maintaining a battery back. The downside is if the utility you are connected to goes down, than your grid tie solar electric system will go down as well, simple grid tie systems do not provide backup power. Flexibility – When it comes to designing a grid tie solar electric system it can be designed to your budget and desires of how much utility dependence you want to offset with your grid tie solar electric system. User friendliness – simple grid tie solar power systems get rid of a lot of parts, therefore they are easier to manage. These days many grid tie inverters include remote monitoring software which allows you to view the output, data and health of the overall grid tie solar electric system through your favorite Internet browser. A grid tie solar electric system is much more easier to install and maintain in the long run. Can you think of an advantage of connecting your solar panels directly to the grid without batteries that I have not covered in this...

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Top 10 Solar Power Friendly Utilities

For the first time ever, Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has released a report highlighting the top 10 most solar power friendly utility companies. There were different sets of rankings including which utility company has built large scale power plants using solar energy to provide electricity to its customers, although what is more interesting in the report is the top 10 utility companies that have the most customer installed solar power systems, which are typically homes and businesses using solar power on their own building and exporting the extra power back into the grid for a credit from the utility company. According to the report, The 10 ten most friendly utility companies that you can easily plug your own solar power system into the grid are: Pacific Gas & Electric Company (CA) Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (HI) City of Palo Alto Utilities (CA) San Diego Gas Diego Gas & Electric Company (CA) Southern California Edison (CA) City of Roseville Electric (CA) Maui Electric Company (HI) Burbank Water and Power (CA) City of Ukiah (CA) Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (CA) If your utility company is one of the top 10, then you will have an easier time working with the utility then a typical person would be because the utilities mentioned above have more experience in dealing with customer’s grid connected solar power systems. Who’s your utility? Have you had a good experience working with your utility when installing a solar power...

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