Renewable energy

Our Barn Roof Gets an 18-kW Solar Array

Posted on May 04,2015 by AlexWilson in metal roofing

When we started planning the rebuild of our house and the rest of the farm in West Dummerston, Vermont, my wife and I knew that we wanted to produce all of our energy on-site. That meant a solar-electric or photovoltaic (PV) system that would generate as much electricity as the house and barn are consuming — net-zero energy.

Good News, Bad News: A Glut of Solar Panels

Posted on May 04,2015 by AlexWilson in photovoltaic

When China dives into a technology, it does so in a big way. Nowhere is this more the case than in photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturing, where dramatic growth has not only taken a toll on other manufacturers around the world, but also now threatens its own PV industry through rampant oversupply. This has significant implications for us here in the U.S. — both good and bad.

Updated Encyclopedia Page on Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on May 04,2015 by GBA Team in photovoltaic

Only a few years ago, the installed cost of a grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system was about $7 per watt. Now that inexpensive PV modules are widely available, the price has been cut in half (to about $3.50 per watt) in many areas of the U.S. As architect Jesse Thompson pointed out in his GBA guest blog, PV Systems Have Gotten Dirt Cheap, falling PV prices are a game-changer.

A New Net-Zero Community

Posted on May 04,2015 by ScottG in New construction

Two southern Maine builders have teamed up with Kaplan Thompson Architects on a subdivision that will include as many as 26 houses built to net-zero standards. The first of the houses in a Wells, Maine, subdivision called Brackett Estates, is a 1750-sq. ft., three-bedroom model called the Appledore, which was completed in mid-June. The two-story, all-electric house includes double-stud walls insulated to R-40, triple-glazed windows, and a roof insulated to R-60 with dense-pack cellulose. It's on the market for $429,000, or just under $250 a sq. ft. Among its other energy features:

Solar Thermal is Dead

Posted on May 04,2015 by user-756436 in domestic hot water

In the northern half of the U.S. — and even much of the South — installing a residential solar hot water system doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to rethink traditional advice about installing a solar hot water system, because it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic (PV) array than solar thermal collectors. In short, unless you’re building a laundromat or college dorm, solar thermal is dead.

German Innovation in Solar Water Heating

Posted on May 04,2015 by AlexWilson in domestic hot water

I was in Boston last week for the annual Building Energy conference, sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Each year this conference provides an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, catch up on leading-edge building design, and learn about product innovations in energy conservation and renewable energy.

An Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on May 04,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

By now, photovoltaic (PV) panels are familiar to most Americans. You’ve seen them on your hand-held calculator, on top of illuminated highway signs, and maybe even on your neighbors’ roofs. With PV systems becoming more common, perhaps you’ve been dreaming of making some homemade electricity. The dream is achievable, as long as you own a sunny patch of lawn or an unshaded south-facing rooftop, and as long as you have a bank balance of several thousand dollars.

Resilient Design: Emergency Renewable Energy Systems

Posted on May 04,2015 by AlexWilson in resilient design

House location and design are the starting points in achieving resilience — where the house located, how well it can weather storms and flooding, and how effectively it retains heat and utilizes passive solar for heating and daylighting. Beyond that, we should look to more active renewable energy systems for backup heat, water heating, and electricity. This week we'll review these options. Wood stoves

Tackling PV’s Red-Tape Roadblocks

Posted on May 04,2015 by Fretboard in administrative costs

Financial prospects for deployment of photovoltaic systems could be brightening. Prices of PV panels from both Asian and domestic manufacturers, for example, have dropped so much recently that many developers of solar power utility projects in California who originally planned to use solar thermal systems are switching to PV, according to a San Jose Mercury News story posted this month.

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