Looking for Common Ground in the Solar Debate

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in electric utilities

Two groups seemingly on opposite sites of the renewable energy divide have called on state utility regulators to adopt rate plans that encourage more renewable energy while protecting the financial interests of the companies that buy and distribute it. In a joint statement, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) said the future of the country's electricity industry would remain promising "as long as regulatory policies are fair and forward looking."

Arizona Solar Installations Slow

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Arizona solar

The number of new rooftop photovoltaic (PV) installations in the area covered by the Arizona Public Service Company is dropping, and the vice president of a California company that finances solar leases says a new monthly fee for photovoltaic systems is the culprit. According to a report in The Republic, the number of rooftop installations fell from 583 in January of last year to 280 last month.

New Solar Calculator Available

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in energy model

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has updated its PVWatts calculator, an interactive program that helps solar installers and homeowners estimate the performance of hypothetical grid-tied photovoltaic systems. PVWatts creates hour-by-hour simulations and provides estimates for monthly and annual energy production, NREL says. A user can use default values that are built in or plug in values of their own, including the location and size of the PV array, the type of array, the tilt angle and the aximuth angle.

Trade Wars over PV Panels Could Boost Prices

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in anti-dumping

The Commerce Department has started new antidumping investigations into Chinese and Taiwanese photovoltaic modules with the potential of closing a big loophole in existing tariff regulations and driving up prices for U.S. consumers. The Jan. 23 decision is the latest development in a long-simmering dispute over claims that solar modules made in China are sold in the U.S. at prices lower than their fair value, which constitutes dumping. A separate countervailing duty investigation concerns financial assistance from foreign governments that unfairly benefit foreign companies.

Hawaii’s Solar Battle

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Hawaii

Hawaii is the latest arena where homeowners are going head-to-head with their electric utility over residential solar installations. According to a Reuters' report, homeowners on the island of Oahu must now seek the permission of the Hawaiian Electric Co., and possibly pay for upgrades to nearby electrical circuits, before they can install solar panels on their own roofs.

How Much Are Your Solar Panels Worth?

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Lawrence Berkeley Lab

Each kilowatt of PV capacity adds nearly $6,000 to the value of a California home, but price premiums fall off quickly as the solar electric systems age, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found. In a summary of their findings, researchers report that price premiums are "strongly correlated" with the size of the system, adding $5,911 per kW. But each year the system ages causes the premium to drop.

Industrial Solar?

Posted on February 01,2015 by AlexWilson in industrial solar

When the economy-of-scale with wind power [no-glossary]led[/no-glossary] to larger and larger wind turbines, opponents of these installations took to referring to them as “industrial wind power.” Whenever I see a letter-to-the-editor or news story that uses this phrase, I can tell that it’s going to have an anti-wind bias.

Don’t Hire a Cleaning Crew to Wash Your Solar Panels

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Worried that your rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels are cranking out less power than they should because they're dusty? Don't be. Paying someone to wash them is likely to cost more than what you'd gain in electrical output, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, said.

Are Solar Panels a Hazard to Firefighters?

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in firefighting

The growing number of rooftop solar installations means new potential hazards for firefighters and may prompt changes in how effectively fire departments can battle certain fires, according to a recently revised report from The Fire Protection Research Foundation. "Today's emergency responders face unexpected challenges as new uses of alternative energy

Solar Power Fees Are an Issue in Spain, Too

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in grid fee

U.S. electric utilities aren't the only ones worried about the impact of renewable energy on their long-term ability to pay grid operating costs. A number of utilities here are worried that as more homeowners install photovoltaic systems at home, income will fall. That's not only because solar customers buy less power, but also because utilities have been buying their surplus power at retail rates under net-metering programs.

Solar Panels Are Now a ‘No-Brainer’

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Photovolatic (PV) arrays are becoming a standard feature in new houses, just as granite countertops once made the transition from expensive novelty to mainstream amenity, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Rooftop Solar Panels Have Utilities Worried

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in net metering

The proliferation of rooftop photovoltaic installations is making some electric utilities nervous, according to a report in The New York Times.

Getting Power From Solar Equipment When the Grid is Down

Posted on February 01,2015 by AlexWilson in inverter

One of the biggest complaints I hear about most solar-electric (photovoltaic or PV) systems is that when the grid goes down you can’t use any of the power that’s produced. Consumers have spent thousands of dollars on a PV system, and during an extended power outage on a bright, sunny day when the PV modules are certainly generating electricity, they are disappointed that none of that electricity can be used.

Residential Photovoltaic Installations on the Rise

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in Chinese solar panels

New photovoltaic installations in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2013 totaled 723 megawatts (MW), an increase of 33% over the same period a year ago, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has reported. The residential market grew by 53% over the first quarter of 2012, and was 11% higher than the last quarter of 2012. Non-residential installations, however, were off by 20%, and total first-quarter installations were actually less than fourth-quarter 2012 installations by 45% (723 MW compared to 1,310 MW), the report noted.

A Net-Zero Energy Apartment Complex Opens in San Diego

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in net zero

Florida has the first net-zero-energy bank in the country. Illinois will apparently get the first net-zero energy drug store later this year. And it looks like California has the first net-zero apartment complex in which residents can control their thermostats with a smart phone app. Solterra EcoLuxury Apartments, a 114-unit project in San Diego, welcomed its first residents in May.

Our Barn Roof Gets an 18-kW Solar Array

Posted on February 01,2015 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.

A Commercial Building in California Gets a Net-Zero Retrofit

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in IBEW-NECA

California electrical workers have renovated a 46,000-sq.-ft. commercial building in San Leandro into a net-zero energy training center. According to The Electrical Worker online, it is one of the first net-zero projects in the country that transformed an existing commercial building.

Demand for PV Panels to Grow

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Demand for photovoltaic panels in the U.S. will reach a record 4.3 gigawatts of capacity in 2013, nearly 20% higher than in 2012, according to Solarbuzz, a market research company. "Solar PV demand from the U.S. market now contributes over 12% of annual global demand, compared to just 5% three years ago," the firm's quarterly market report said.

Failure Rates for PV Panels Are Climbing

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Manufacturing shortcuts, most of them at Chinese factories, are leading to higher failure rates for photovoltaic panels and prompting growing concerns among testing labs, insurers and solar developers, The New York Times reports.

Super-Sized PV Installations

Posted on February 01,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Residential photovoltaic systems often have a capacity of less than 10,000 watts, or 10 kW — which is usually enough to cover the needs of a single family. Commercial PV installations, on the other hand, are big and getting much bigger. At a data center in Maiden, N.C., Apple says it has finished a 20-megawatt array that covers 100 acres of land and produces 42 million kWh of energy per year. The company is adding a second 20 MW array that's expected to be operating by late this year plus a 10 MW fuel cell.

Register for a free account and join the conversation

Get a free account and join the conversation!
Become a GBA PRO!

Syndicate content