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U.S. Department of Energy Installs Solar Panels

The U.S. Department of Energy (D.O.E) finally put their money where their mouth is and installed a 205 kilowatt (kW) solar electric system on their headquarters in Washington D.C. The system will generate 222,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. So it seems like the D.O.E. are a bunch of slow spokes when it comes to adopting new energy technology, why did it take them so long to install solar panels, when many homes and businesses around the world have been harnessing the power of the sun? Well the D.O.E. invests very little in research & development compared to nuclear bombs which is where most of the yearly D.O.E. budget is allocated to. Our own department of energy is lagging behind when it comes to renewable energy, this is one of the root causes of why the American energy policy is very flawed. Isn’t it ironic that the D.O.E logo has a wind turbine and sun in it’s...

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Phoenix Suns teams up with solar panels

The Phoenix Suns announced yesterday at a press conference with Kevin Nash that the organization will be supporting solar power by installing 1,125 Suntech Solar Panels at the US Airways Center. The 194 kW (kilowatt) system will be installed next spring on the fifth level of the parking garage. The Arizona utility, APS will provide financial incentives through the renewable energy incentive program. The solar power system will be grid tied, meaning it will provide excess electricity back into the grid to help the community during peak hours and also help the Sun’s hedge against the raising cost of electricity. The Architect’s model of the proposed solar power system which will produce enough electricity for 26 games. The system is projected to cost 1.5 million dollars. This is going to be a great example how solar power can be used to power a large user who needs reliable power. We hope that the Sun’s promote the project to the thousands of fans that attend the US Airways every year. People idolize sports teams and we feel this project is a great way to get more people introduced to solar power. Maybe people will notice the solar power system when they’re watching the Suns and consider solar panels as an option for their home or...

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Grid Tie Solar Power System w/ Battery Backup Drawing

Earlier this week we featured a drawing of a simple grid tie system. A common misconception about grid tie solar electric systems is that you will have a power source when the power goes out, although unless you have a battery backup system your system will go down when the grid goes down. Some people who need backup power and don’t mind the maintenance and replacements every few years of a battery bank consider a grid tie system with battery backup. Today’s drawing also comes from the Guide to Photovoltaic System Design and Installation by the California Energy Commission and features a battery backup system. As you can see compared to the simple grid tie system, the battery backup system is a little more complex. It includes a battery system, which is typically a group of lead acid batteries, a charge controller to keep the system from cooking the batteries from an overcharge and a critical load sub-panel. The point of a battery backup system is not to power you entire house through a blackout but to provide backup power to your most important electrical loads in your home or business. The downsides of a battery backup system are the increased cost of the overall system, the maintenance of the batteries and the installation time of the system with batteries jumps up 40% compared to a system without batteries. So it really depends on where you live, how reliable your utility company is and if you have loads in your house that need to be redundant. What do you think? Is adding batteries to your system...

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Solar Panel demand can’t keep up with supply

Many solar panel manufacturers and installers can’t keep up with the demand for solar panels and are not taking on anymore jobs in 2008 because they don’t either have the time nor supply to help anyone the rest of this year! This is due to the US federal tax credit expiring December 31s, 2008, people want to get their projects installed by the end of this year so they can pick up on that tax credit and is causing a strain on the supply of solar panels, this holds true especially for large business projects. Industry reports suggest as more manufacturing capacity is put online in 2009 solar panel demand will catch up with supply. There maybe a downturn in the solar and wind market next year if the renewable energy tax credit is not renewed by congress by the end of this year. Although electric rates are jumping up to historic highs, so hopefully we can get solar and wind technology to compete financially against the fossil fuel industry without rebates and tax credits. What do you think will happen next year to this booming industry if the tax credit is not...

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Solar Electric Systems are Modular!

Modular? What am I talking about? Well a Solar Electric systems are scalable, meaning that like Legos, you can build on top of a small system. Since the solar panels are the most expensive part of the overall system cost, some people can afford to buy enough panels to eliminate their entire bill. So what can a customer do, is it all or nothing? Absolutely not! When you purchase a system, you can oversize the inverter, meaning that if you want a 5kw system in the future, but can only afford 1kw worth of solar panels today, you can buy a grid tie inverter that has a maximum capacity of 5kw and purchase 1kw worth of solar panels, as your budget increases you can buy more solar panels until you max out your inverter. I call this a “staged investment in a solar electric system” the end investment goal is to eliminate your entire electric bill, but you chip away a little at a time. There is a common misconception out there that all your capacity has to be purchased upfront which is totally not true. Go ahead, get started with a small system today, but don’t worry you have the ability to expand it...

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