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Disinformation: Solar panels ‘take 100 years to pay back installation costs’

I was reading an interesting article today in The Independent, a United Kingdom publication. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), “Solar panels are one of the least cost-effective ways of combating climate change and will take 100 years to pay back their installation costs.” Rics published a new guide on energy efficiency, and stated that solar hot water or solar electric systems are unlikely to save a householder any money and solar energy is a poor investment overall for your pocketbook and the environment. In the case of Solar Hot Water to heat your household water, Rics estimated that the payback period on money saved on electricity and gas would have a payback period of more than 100 years and up to 208 years in their worst case. Rics estimated that Solar Electric Systems would break even in 50 to 100 years! Being a renewable energy professional, I’ve done and seen many of my co-workers do financial calculations and study put out by Rics is total disinformation! I have never seen payback periods that high with electric rates and gas prices shooting through the roof, actually the payback period on solar energy and wind power systems are breaking even much quicker rather then long as Rics claims. The study conducted by Rics is such a hit job for big energy, it’s not even funny how inaccurate their statements are, by spreading this type of propaganda it’s scaring potential consumers away from renewable energy. Rics did not factor any of the rebates and tax credits, they used old data for electric and gas rates and modeled the financial returns based on old solar energy technology, basically they ran the numbers in their favor for the study. So the real question is why are they afaird to publish a real story about the effectiveness of solar energy? What do they have to...

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A thought about solar energy on Labor Day.

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone out there had a memorable weekend. Like millions of Americans I fired up the grill today, while cleaning the BBQ grill with my garden hose I noticed that the temperature of the water spraying out of the hose was hot since the garden hose had been baking in the Southern California sun. The temperature of the water from the garden hose was comparable to the hot water that we get inside our home heated by natural gas. I realized this labor day the sun, our largest and most obvious energy source is not being used in our lives to its maximum capabilities. Many people across the world are installing solar hot water heating systems to offset their energy usage from traditional fossil fuels, it just makes sense, because not only does the person use the sun wisely but we create jobs in the process. The renewable energy industry can create many domestic jobs everywhere, in our rough economic times, with most American jobs being outsourced, renewable energy is an industry that can take America back to the #1 spot in terms of employee wages in relation to GDP. If you support American energy independence and domestic job growth, you must educate and help everyone around you realize the benefits of solar energy, you can use a simple example, temperature of water coming out a garden hose during a hot summer day to help people realize the potential of solar energy and the significant impact renewable energy can have in our daily...

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Sundown at Intersolar US

Today was the last day of Intersolar US in San Francisco. A very successful show here in the USA, there was a high demand for renewable energy in the US and the conference proved it by attracting over 12,000 visitors and 2oo exhibitors. Intersolar has been going on in Europe for many years, this was the first year the conference organizers brought the show to the US, and I have a strong feeling that they’ll be back in the USA next year. Let’s dive into some interesting products we saw to conclude the coverage of Intersolar US. Solar Panels are getting larger and producing more output, the picture above shows a 250watt solar panel! That is one monster solar panel. It seems like in the near future with increases in output and solar panel size consumers could be using less solar panels in certain installations. Thin film solar glass is an interesting yet expensive concept not ready for the residential market although its interesting to see the development of windows that can produce electricity. As this technology evolves consumers should expect to see more efficient better looking solar power windows that we’ll even see at the residential level. We’re seeing more combination solar panels being presented at solar power conferences, the last one we saw were at Solar 2008 in San Diego made by an American company. The Combination Panel (made by a German company) shown below heat water and produce electricity using the same panel. Traditionally, solar electric and solar hot water were two different systems…this product is unique because it turns two different systems and combines them into one panel that could save customers surface area and money, while reducing both electric bills and natural gas bills for water heating. Killing two birds with one stone. Even though Intersolar was geared more toward the utility scale projects, we still had a chance to interact with other solar power professionals and meet interesting people from all over the world who are working on interesting products that help the industry move forward in the residential and small business...

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Using Beer Bottles to harness the Sun

I wanted to highlight the works of Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province, China because of his innovative work in solar energy. Ma, a Chinese Farmer made his own solar water heating panels with empty beer bottles and hosepipes. Ma’s invention is simple, he attached 66 beer bottles to board which are connected with each other so the water flows through, sunlight hits the bottles and heats up the water, its that simple! Ma claims the home made solar hot water panel provides enough hot water for three family members to shower each day. 10 families in the village have been inspired by Ma’s DIY Solar Hot Water project and are taking a project up on their own. This is a perfect example of someone with limited resources taking solar energy into their own hands and how successful a do-it-yourself solar energy project can work for the average...

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Heat your water, generate electricity, one panel.

At the ASES Solar 2008 conference we saw some great technology improvements and creative out of the box thinking in the solar industry itself. One technology that stood out was a solar PV panel with the ability to heat water. One panel does the jobs of two different technologies (Solar PV & Solar Thermal) The great part of the new solar energy collector is not only to heats water and produces electricity with less surface area, but the water within the panel water cools the PV Panel before the water is heated and used for hot water. According to the company there is a 10% gain in efficiency of the PV Panel. The industry seems like to get much more innovative. According to representatives at the booth the founder of the company used to work for Intel and understands how to cool silicon since heating of silicon was a common problem in the computer processor industry. The solar energy collector snaps on top most solar pv...

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