solar electric

Indiana Weighs a Bill Allowing New Solar Fees

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in Indiana

State lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill that could lead to lower net-metering rates for customers who own photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind generators, and allow utilities to charge new fees to cover the cost of grid maintenance. The legislation easily cleared the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee and was headed for a full House vote later this month. The Senate has yet to act.

An Off-Grid Solar Community

Posted on April 27,2015 by AjahnSona in insulating shutter

Birken Forest Monastery is a retreat center in the mountains of British Columbia. It's located at an elevation of 4,000 feet at Latitude 51, and experiences about 9,000 heating degree days (Fahrenheit) per year. The buildings are about 15 years old. We are off the grid. The nearest electricity line is 4 miles away, and it would cost about $200,000 to bring grid power in. (Then, of course, we would still have to pay for the electricity.) So off-grid it is, and will remain.

Solar Gets A Big Boost in Hawaii

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) has announced a plan to triple the number of solar electric panels in the state by 2030 and take a variety of other steps that would lower power bills for state residents by 20%. Utility Dive reported the move would increase the proportion of renewable energy from its current level of 18% to 65%, the highest in the United States.

Solar Panels May Last Longer Than You Think

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in NREL

The rule of thumb on the long-term performance of photovoltaic panels is that output will decline by about 1% each year. After 20 years in service, panels should still be able to produce roughly 80% of their rated capacity. But research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that rate of degradation is probably overstated, according to a post at

Getting Power From Solar Equipment When the Grid is Down

Posted on April 27,2015 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.

Installing a Photovoltaic System

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1095434 in photovoltaic

[Editor's note: What follows is a compilation of blog entries by Marc Rosenbaum describing the performance of the [no-glossary]photovoltaic[/no-glossary] system installed on the roof of his Massachusetts house.]

Updated Encyclopedia Page on Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on April 27,2015 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.

Photovoltaics, Part 1: Shedding Light on the Basics

Posted on April 27,2015 by ChrisBriley in photovoltaic array

In order to understand whether a photovoltaic (PV) system is appropriate for the project you're working on, you really have to understand the metrics and basics of solar electric systems. Phil and I sat down, turned on the mic, and did our best to convey the basic concepts and rules of thumb that most green professionals should know. Of course, this episode lays the groundwork for Part 2, in which we will cover the financial implications of a PV system.

An Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems

Posted on April 27,2015 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.

Testing a Thirty-Year-Old Photovoltaic Module

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

In 1980, after living in the woods of Vermont without electricity for five years, I bought my first photovoltaic (PV) module. Responding to a small ad in Mother Earth News, I sent a check to Joel Davidson, a back-to-the-land urban refugee who was facilitating a bulk purchase of PV panels. From his off-grid acreage in Pettigrew, Arkansas, Davidson was selling 33-watt Arco Solar modules for $275 each. Many people ask, “How long do solar panels last?” To mark the 30th anniversary of my first PV module, I decided to climb up on my roof and bring it down for testing.

Deciphering the Tax Credits

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in energy efficiency

The energy-efficiency tax credits and renewable-energy tax credits are better than tax deductions. The allowable credits aren’t just deductible expenses; they represent dollars subtracted directly from your tax bill. While the tax credit program includes illogical rules, the available tax credits can be significant. If you want to claim a tax credit on your 2009 income tax return for energy-efficiency improvements to your home, you should get the improvements installed before the end of the year. There’s really no need to rush, however, since the tax credits will remain available until the end of 2010 — or, in some cases, 2016.

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