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Use the sustainable power of the generous sun to power your life. Photovoltaic energy is a clean, renewable resource available for us all.
Solar energy is one of the most bountiful and readily available sustainable resources we have. The sun already directly and indirectly powers every aspect of our lives. Sunlight, or photons, are constantly falling upon our Earth. I am certainly not discrediting geo-thermal, tidal, wind, or any other renewable resource. It’s just that it’s hard to argue with the many benefits solar power has.
Much of the news being released regarding solar panels consists of improving the efficiency of the solar collection/energy conversion process. These are much needed improvements to the way we use renewable resources. Despite the benefits these breakthroughs yield, it’s also important not to overlook the seemingly simple solutions to our problems.
The problem with current solar panel encapsulants (covers, films, etc.), is that they begin to diminish in efficiency after extended periods of extreme temperature variations and normal wear-and-tear. This can happen for many reasons: difficulty in manufacturing the material, expansion/contraction of materials due to temperature shifts, as well as a relatively high level of light refraction.
Recently the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, announced a new polyolefin film, or encapsulant, produced under the name ENLIGHT. This development might not have some of you as excited as you should be. Most people would think that the ENLIGHT encapsulant might seem like little more than a glorified plastic film. Keep reading to find out why you’d be wrong.
After thousands of hours of use, the protective film on a solar panel can start to degrade, lowering efficiency and causing operation issues.
The ENLIGHT polyolefin encapsulant film addresses many of these issues, without requiring any other component of the panel to be altered. The film is more flexible than traditional EVA (Ethyl-Vinyl Acetate) encapsulants. There is a much lower water vapor transmission rate, and the film can be applied without compromising the integrity of the solar cell.
The big picture here is that many people are concerned with seeing a return on investment with solar panels; the moment where the amount of electricity generated outweighs their operating and installation costs. The standard today lies somewhere between 5 and 7 years, depending on where you live, the type and size of the installation you’re working with, and any federal and state subsidiaries or tax write-offs. This development will protect that investment by ensuring lower maintenance costs and a longer operating life. This will mean renewable energy via solar collection is going to be a more viable option for thousands of people out there.
The global photovoltaic, or PV, industry has been continuously growing at a rapid pace over the recent years. In 2008, the annual global installed PV capacity reached around 5.6 GW, taking the total installed capacity to around 15 GW by the end of that year.
Various factors including government incentives for solar energy, narrowing cost differentials between solar and conventional sources of energy, increasing environmental concern and emission regulations remain major growth drivers for the PV industry worldwide, according to the report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013”. This report gives an overview of the market forces that are currently driving the global demand for the PV industry.
The global PV industry is highly dependent on government initiatives and this shows that the industry is yet to achieve self-sufficiency. The impact of government initiatives can be easily understood considering the US market, which lags behind Germany and Japan due to lack of government initiatives. The report anticipates that the future of PV market will largely depend on government’s enforcement of existing or new support mechanisms across the world. Besides this, competition among the major manufacturers is expected to intensify, with new players entering the market as the potential for PV opens up.
This report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013” focuses on the growing marketplace for the PV industry at global as well as at the country level and analyzes the current market trends along with future growth prospects of the industry. It contains extensive data on cumulative PV capacity, annual installed PV capacity, and the future market potential of the key countries. The report also features the leading-edge opportunities critical to the success of the PV industry. It will help clients to discover the forces backing the growth of the PV industry, thus enabling them to outline their market strategies accordingly. From the future perspective, PV market EPIA scenario has been taken into consideration under the set of certain assumptions.
About RNCOS: RNCOS, incorporated in the year 2002, is an industry research firm. We are a team of industry experts who analyze data collected from credible sources. We provide industry insights and analysis that helps corporations to take timely and accurate business decision in today’s globally competitive environment.
EarthSure, a renewable energy company and innovator in alternative energy sources introduces its most ground-breaking invention to date. Patent pending AirRay™ is the name given to the car that will produce energy through solar power and wind power; enough energy to reduce or eliminate your electric bill and eventually allow your car to solely run on electric. This is the car that is destined to be the new “Car of the Future”.
AirRay’s™ entire system is unique. The roof of the car consists of a solar honeycomb-membrane panel which collects the sun’s rays when parked and when moving, and transfers that energy to the main energy storage system located in the back of the vehicle. The front hood of the car boasts three wind turbines which transfer air into electric energy and is then stored in the main battery. The remaining wind turbine is located on the trunk of the car, grasping at the airflow that surrounds the car when driving. Engineers have incorporated the vehicle with Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capabilities which will enable the user to transfer renewable power back into their home for use in their household or right back into the electrical grid to deplete their electric bills.
The initial AirRay™ concept car will have these features incorporated within a hybrid auto or traditional gas or diesel run vehicle. EarthSure CEO Raymond Saluccio adds, “Our final masterpiece of automobile will be solely electric powered and not have any need for gas or oil. The energy the car creates through the solar panels and the wind turbines will be enough for the automobile to run without worry of losing power. Not only that, but it is a sleek looking car! The AirRay car not only turns air and light into energy, but will turn a lot of heads too!” This final version of the AirRay car is a work in progress but EarthSure has filed numerous patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure their car will be able to quickly make it to market once approved.
About Earth-Sure: EarthSure Renewable Energy Corp. is an American corporation innovating technologies to produce energy in a clean and affordable way. Utilizing solar and wind power as a source of renewable energy, EarthSure systems are alternatives to conventional energy producing methods that result in carbon emissions. For more information about the many other innovative developments in solar and wind power created by EarthSure, visit their website at www.Earth-Sure.com
Highly volatile oil prices and depleting conventional sources of energy across the world have highlighted the need for renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic (PV) to rebalance the energy mix. Consequently, the installation of PV has been growing at rapid pace, leading to reduction in PV module costs with rising capacity, says our new research report “Global Photovoltaic Market Forecast to 2013”. (more…)
Organized labor is pressing hard to both accelerate and gain a strong foothold in the renewable energy industry. This simultaneous push for green jobs and a green economy has garnered plenty of friends for unions, from environmental groups to consumer advocacy groups to many in the solar industry.
The recent stock market collapse and subsequent Congressional bailout have brought a collective groan to pocketbooks across America and financial markets around the world. Afraid for their savings and jobs, and worried for the future of their homes and college funds, this may not seem like the time for homeowners to invest in expensive improvements.
The $700B corporate welfare package was passed through Congress, much as previous legislation overreached the bounds of government on the pretext of crisis. Stuffed with pork and served with theater, this move will haunt the world economy for years to come.
There is a silver lining to the dark storm cloud rising, however: the alternative energy tax credit cap has been quadrupled to $8000, bringing the effective cost of PV installations down by 1/3-1/2. The credit applies to 30% of the total installed cost of new residential systems.
For California residents, this can be added to the $2.50 credit to make solar a truly affordable alternative to the grid. Other states have different rebate programs. Depending on where you live and how much tax you typically pay, the cost of a grid-tie solar system might be offset up to 50%.
Contact a representative at Real Goods Solar for more information on solar installation and tax rebate credit incentives available where you live.
Fed up with paying in to a private monopoly which is still holding us hostage with pollution-generating power plants? Tired of talking about the energy crisis and ready to invest in a future off the grid? Good for you.
Now that you’ve decided to go solar, you face some tough choices about finances. The power generated by the Sun is 100% free, but the photovoltaic collectors which convert this energy still represent a substantial investment. A little sticker shock is common among homeowners who have estimated the household electricity use, and found that their planned solar array will cost as much as a new vehicle.
The average home practicing energy-conscious conservation is using 5-7 Kwh/ day. In order to depend entirely on solar power, this home might need about 2 or 3 KW of PV module, at a jaw-dropping cost of at least $5,000 per kilowatt. Grid-tie installation can often cost up to one-third of the total, and a state-of the-art inverter, backup generator, and storage battery cells can bring the total into the stratosphere.
The math may be daunting, but through a little creative conservation, applicable tax credits, and financing from lenders friendly to environmental projects, most residential solar installations become a practical reality. Some homeowners are pleased to discover that their home can be solarized for even less than their current electricity bill.
Most homeowners are aware of Federal alternative energy tax incentives of $2,000 and 0% interest bonds which may offset part of the cost, as well as various state programs. These can bring down the total cost of the project, but most middle-class homeowners will still be tempted to balk at committing a year’s salary to a single purchase.
The answer is the same mechanism which made it possible for you to own your home in the first place: a loan. While the notion of going even further in debt may not appeal at first, it bears pointing out that a solar or wind system begins paying for itself from the moment of installation, by reducing or eliminating the monthly energy bill.
By distributing the cost of PV modules, invetrters, and grid-tie installation across 15-30 years, the monthly cost of home electricity is locked in near the current rates, until the loan is paid and the energy becomes entirely free. Another key consideration is that the investment in a solar or wind electrical syatem adds value to your property-an added 20/watt, according to current assessment guidelines.
In addition to hedging against likely hikes in local energy prices, adding solar power is a wise investment in home improvement. Since solar homes are still reasonably rare on the market, and increasingly in demand, alternative energy amentities may also help a home sell more quickly…an important consideration in a sluggish real estate market.
Of course, your bank may not be cutting-edge enough to recognize this. The lending market is quickly growing conservative in the wake of recent foreclosure fiascoes, and some agents may fear risking the primary mortgage by adding a second one.
Fortunately, the green movement is spreading into all corners of the economy, and by choosing a lender such as Cal Green Lending who specializes in financing environmental projects, you can be sure that your application will be reviewed by lenders who comprehend the viability of alternative energy.
Cal Green Lending arranges loans to qualified alternative energy installation projects for both residential and commercial properties nationwide. Visit them to see if they can help make your solar dream a reality.
Cal Green Lending has been awarded the “Green Leap Award” from Holy Solar for making an innovative leap in the approach to alternative energy.
The Holy Solar crew trucked down to Hopland, California, for the annual SolFest celebration at the Solar Living Institute & left with this song and video.
Solar Living Experiment
For those of you who’ve never been
It’s so amazing as to be a sin
Right along scenic highway one-oh-one
There’s a magical place, mostly about the Sun
We’d heard about the Redwoods, so we came to see,
What it felt like to be under all of those trees
We weren’t the first to hear their call
Hundred foot Redwoods dwarfing any wall
Under their canopy you might feel a little small
Until you give one a hug and feel part of it all.
With towering trees and ancient ferns
Restoring the forest each time it burns
Once again, we’re headed down to the Solar Living Institute in Hopland California to take part in the annual Solfest gathering. For those who are not familiar, the Solar Living Institute is one of the most active and established sites using green technologies and earth-friendly land strategies since 1998.
Associated with the Real Goods Eco-store, the Solar Living Institute is one of our favorite places on Earth. Featuring the largest array of solar panels in Northern California, SLI’s Solar 2000 module grid produces more than 160,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. Since 2003, anyone traveling Highway 101 has been able to top off their biodiesel tank while visiting this historic landmark of the future.
A leader in alternative energy information, SLI sponsors ongoing workshops in the Bay Area and along the North Coast throughout the year, but SolFest brings together speakers on topics from straw bale building construction and permaculture to biofuels and windmills.
And, of course, solar energy. The entire event will be powered by the many solar panels which adorn the venue year round, and experts in grid-tie applications, tax incentives, and off-grid solar photovoltaics will be making presentations, as well as being on hand to answer questions.
Year-round interns care for and eat from the organic farm and permaculture displays, leaving with an intimate knowledge of Earth-friendly techniques to bring into a world in desperate need of solutions. Each year, the volunteer staff joins them to help produce a zero-waste event using all-natural biodegradable plates, bottles, and utensils.
We’ll be volunteering there as well as signing up folks for our new newsletter- which will be launching sometime next week with our experiences and inside view of the event. We’ll also be trying to get a hold of a video recorder so that we can make a brief documentary about SLI, Real Goods, and SolFest, hopefully with interviews and some good shots of one of the most innovative villages on Earth.
*The Solar Living Center picture was provided by anotheremily
Enough sunlight falls on the Earth in two hours to support all of civilization’s power needs for an entire year. This compelling statistic ought to have mobs unplugging from the grid and off to the solar store for some PV modules and wires. When we see how energy is free, that it literally falls from the sky and all we have to do is collect it, why should we live under the whim of a heartless energy monopoly, in dread of their threatening pink notices?
At some level, however, we all know that unless the grid itself is powered by renewable energy, the economic, social, and environmental plague of fossil fuels and nuclear power will go on to pollute the world regardless of how tiny our individual footprints may be.
So the best news, lately, has been about the solar we can’t have: industrial-strength adaptations for large-scale solar power that are beginning to answer some of the shortcomings of our favorite energy source. Traditional mono-and-polycrystalline panels are a technological wonder, but mass-producing them presents some economic and environmental problems of their own. Many people worry about the long “energy debt” these panels have, often three to five years before the energy to manufacture such panels is recovered.
The focus in solar equipment manufacture has shifted from the watt to the megawatt, and the entire premise of solar collection is rapidly evolving. Since solar panels obviously need to cover the maximum surface area, engineers have been hard at work on that third dimension, reducing the thickness of each module.
They haven’t stopped there. A company called Nanosolar is now producing solar cells so thin that they are literally painted on, collecting charge by means of a special ink. Want some? You can’t have any; despite enormous investments from giants like IBM and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as reports that the company’s new plants have the ability to produce 1 billion watts to wholesale at about $1 a piece, Nanosolar says it is sold out for at least a year in advance. Try again in 2009.
Boasting an impressive 14.5% efficiency and the lowest cost yet for photovoltaic cells, we can’t wait until this technology makes it to the consumer level. Unfortunately, since the technology is patented and proprietary, and Nanosolar shows no interest in the residential sector, it will be some time before microsolar makes its way to the open market.
Nanosolar has been awarded the Green Leap Award from Holy Solar for innovative advancement in the approach to alternative energy.
Until then, we’ll have to get by with the next-best thing, solar cells which are merely thin, available from Global Solar and UniSolar. See these thin-film solar cells available from Real Goods.
Nanosolar Thin Film Production-100 ft per minute Solar Printing Capacity
In the previous post, we covered some of the main reasons why we chose the Unisolar 64 Watt solar panel for supplemental power in our alternative energy bus. We made the purchase at the Real Goods store in Hopland, California, but because our roof had no metal to fix the mounting brackets to, installation was pretty much up to us.
Erik at Real Goods helped us develop a plan, drew a diagram showing the proper way to hook up the wiring between the junction box of the solar panel, the regulator, and batteries, and wished us well. We had his card in the event of emergency; fortunately, we never needed it.
The first issue we confronted was the fiberglass roof. Since Mahayana was not new when we met her, we lacked electrical diagrams of the wiring scheme, although we could make some educated guesses. We decided that the region on either side of the visible wire bundle ought to be safe for drilling, and this turned out to be correct.
Along with the Unisolar Thin Film Panel, we chose the Uni-Rac RV mounting bracket set, which brought the total bill to just under $500. The bracket set is simple enough, but to avoid undue stress to the fiberglass, we mounted a T-plate to the roof beneath each bracket and attached the mounts to those.
This works well, but at high speeds there is some vibration noise, which makes us wish that we had insulated the T-plate with felt “washers,” such as battery terminal pads. Live and learn!
Each T-plate was mounted with a pair of fittings to the roof. The holes were drilled with a 5/8″ bit and secured with 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ mechanical bolts.
Since our solar panel is bus-mounted, we didn’t need to worry about connecting the panel to a ground, but those working on residential installations will need to ground the frame of the panel.
We drilled an additional hole through the roof in order to accommodate the positive and negative wires which passthe charge from the panel to the batteries, making a total of nine breaches in our ceiling. Preserving the integrity of the roof being a priority, we were glad to see that we made only as many as were needed. We were quite happy as well to see that the holes were confined to a relatively small area, approximately two feet across and three back. This means that there is room for at least one more panel like this if- and when- we expand our solar collection potential.
After making sure we had all of the wire, connections, splices and fuses we needed- all of which are included in the Global Solar Energy Extra Connectivity Kit– we proceeded to connect the SunSaver controller first to the deep-cycle marine batteries, and then to the panel. We made sure to splice the included fuse module to the positive wires on either side of the controller for overload protection.
It’s been a little more than two weeks since we added the Unisolar Thinfilm Panel to our alternative energy houseboat, and the results have exceeded expectations. The little green light, signifying charge, goes on with the first glint of dawn and stays fiercely bright, in shade and beneath cloudy skies, until the last flash of sunset disappears from the horizon.
We are proud to announce that the production of this site is now completely solar powered, as our two computers currently run off of our recently installed Unisolar Thin Film solar panel, which soaks up light like a sponge and allows the two of us to write and design to our hearts content, without using fossil fuels or depending on grid power.
Frankly, we’re pretty excited about it. Our hardy road-boat, Mahayana (which means “The Big Vehicle,” a type of Buddhism), has sailed the highways for over two years under the faint scent of French fries from the biodiesel she drinks with glee. Adding a solar panel to our array of alternative energy was a logical next step, but we found suppliers and information to be shockingly scarce…which is part of what motivated the construction of this site.
As the great Bobby Weir still sometimes sings, “it’s all too clear we’re on our own.” Switching to alternative energy made us amateur electricians for a few days, with an emphasis on amateur. Neither of us had a lot of experience in drilling and wiring, but there was no choice but to learn the basics. Installing a solar panel on the bus brought this home, and fortunately we had the time and patience to carry it off without mishap.
The first task, of course, was choosing the right panel. We went with the Unisolar model for several reasons. First, unlike its vulnerable mono-and-polycrystalline counterparts, the ThinFilm technology is considered “unbreakable.” Of course, you shouldn’t take a sledgehammer to any solar panel, but the manufacturer asserts that it can sustain normal impact without damage.
There will surely be many unplanned tests of this claim as we travel, so we’ll let you know what parking stupidities the Unisolar has survived, or-perish the thought-failed to. Physical damage to the panel is definitely a risk in the wooded regions we travel, so we wanted the most durable design available.
The second reason we chose the Unisolar 64 has to do with how it collects light. The amorphous solar panel design is much more efficient in partial shading than panels composed of serial cells, which can fail to perform if even a portion of the panel is in shadow. In fact, the charge indicator light shows that the Unisolar is passing current to the regulator, even in complete shading on an overcast day.
The downside to the Thin Film style of collector is that the surface is not as efficient as other types of panels per square inch, which means that our 64 watt panel has the physical dimensions (about 54″ X 30″) one normally associates with grid-tie panels of 100 watts or more. The ES series is versatile and is perfect for auxiliary power on boats, RVs, and remote work trucks as well as residential grid-tie and even massive megawatt arrays.
For us, the slightly larger surface is no disadvantage at all, as Mahayana has ample roof space and room for two more such panels should we ever need them.
In the next post, we’ll describe the DIY installation process, what we learned, a few helpful tips for those of you considering going solar, and links to all the equipment you’ll need for personal energy independence, with a little help from nature.
It feels wonderful. Thank you, old Sol!
Get the Unisolar Thin Film and other solar panels from Real Goods.
And for the first 500 years or so that his seminal invention helped reproduce the philosophies, theories, and conclusions of the finest minds in Western and Eastern cultures, it wasn’t much of an issue. Woodlands were abundant, print runs relatively short, and storing the sum of human knowledge certainly ranked in importance above a few trees.
The purpose of this site, as we’ll keep mentioning until we’re sure it has been made quite clear, is to advocate for and provide information on renewable, nonpolluting energy sources. There are quite a few reasons why we feel this is important, but all of them boil down to a concern over the toxic social, economic, and environmental impact of petrochemical dependence.
The solution, we believe, is to turn to nature. When we talk about solar power, we don’t just mean photovoltaic modules, although that is certainly one of our favorite forms of electricity generation. Solar power includes windmills, biofuel, and non-PV applications such as solar heaters and ovens.
In fact, in a sense all of the power on the planet derives ultimately from the Sun, even those nasty petrochemicals we so avidly avoid. Yet there is a conceptual distinction between using dead, stored energy from a limited and ecologically problematical cache, and choosing from a panacea of naturally clean power which replaces itself with each new day.
Slapping solar panels on every rooftop in the world might go a long way toward addressing the petro-mess, but that isn’t going to happen overnight, and it will never happen unless the people collectively demand it.
Some individuals may feel that the threat of climate change is exaggerated, or that oil is more abundant than current projections indicate. Others are inclined to believe that the green movement is a liberal conspiracy to attack businesses with taxes and regulations.
We may not be able to convince these folks. That’s not our job. We are here to evangelize to the choir, to provide a perspective and strategies as much as tools and applications for green living. Converting the critics is a job we leave to those of you able to combine honesty with diplomacy. They’ll come around, once they realize their tree-hugging neighbors don’t pay an electric bill.
Can the energy needs of the entire species be accommodated by green power? We believe the answer is: absolutely. Within the decade, if a planet-wide initiative takes hold as we dream. The technology exists and improves daily. No system is without disadvantages, and underestimating the challenge would be a mistake.
Nevertheless, the time is ripe for a transition that could sweep the globe with positive effects, not only in the ways we gather energy, but the way we approach nature and economics as well. We are at a crossroads, and the type of technology choices we make today will have an impact on how tomorrow’s civilization collects and uses the power to live in harmony with the Earth…or render it forever uninhabitable.
With the rising cost of fuel and the need to find more renewable sources of energy, advanced research is being conducted to discover more efficient ways to go green. Solar energy in a natural solution as the sun is constantly providing abundant energy which powers the world already. Harnessing solar energy does not produce any type of pollution or damage to our planet, and there are numerous ways in which we can utilize this ample resource to power our everyday needs.
Solar water purification is a great example of an efficient green technology, as it replaces a machine which everyone has a need for that would normally use standard electricity. A solar water purifier makes it possible to produce pure drinking water that is healthy for all with a minimum of input.
With the choice of stationary or portable units, it is easy to purify water anywhere without being connected to the grid. Solar powered water purification units can be used as a portable device for personal use, as well as larger, industrial scales to produce clean drinking water for even sizable communities.
A solar water purifier operates using natural energy from the sun which is gathered by solar panels and then converted into serviceable energy. The solar panel must be placed in direct sunlight for optimal efficiently, which makes solar powered water purifiers an ideal solution for outdoor use such as camping.
These solar units are easy to maintain as there are no batteries required, no external electronics and no moving parts. Because they need only water and sunlight to operate, these distillation devices rarely need cleaning. There are many applications of solar water purification, as energy from the sun is used to heat up the water in order to sterilize it. Much like boiling water on a stove to get rid of any contaminants, a solar powered water distiller heats the water up until it is clean enough to drink. It works by heating the water until it evaporates, where it attaches to a piece of plastic held at a slope. All contaminants and other solids are left behind, leaving only pure, clean, drinking water that is ideal for both adults and children.
Portable solar water purifiers can distill and purify liquids from natural fresh-water sources such as lakes and streams as well as salt water sources. Some models use both solar energy as well as batteries so that a charge can be stored, giving you the ability to use your purifier any time, anywhere. These solar-powered units even give off a larger yield than standard water purifiers which use grid-power or other sources of energy.
If you need more charge, these purifiers can be hooked up to a car or other direct-current power source, but can still operate using only the energy from the sun. A portable solar water distiller could save your life during an emergency situation such as a flood or earthquake, as it can transform even the dirtiest water into healthy, pure drinking water. It can also be used for camping trips or trips where no clean water is available or even brought along just in case the clean water supply runs out.
The same technology used on portable solar water purifiers can also be applied on a larger scale, making it possible to purify large amounts of water using only the energy from the sun. Most portable solar water purifiers can clean up to 100 gallons of water a day, using only the natural energy given off by the sun. Large-scale purifiers, however, are able to clean up to 1000 gallons of water each day, and can provide clean water from sources including lakes, streams. Like portable purifiers, they can also use a secondary source of energy like a generator, but mainly rely on the natural energy that the sun has to offer.
Communities all over the planet are creating their own, homemade solar water distillation devices, in order to provide clean drinking water for their families and neighbors. Because there are still areas that do not have direct access to clean water lines, they must find methods to transform their water from natural, and possibly polluted sources into water that will be healthy for their entire family.
Everyone needs access to clean water in order to maintain a healthy life. Knowing that the sun will shine on every inch of the globe at one point or another, we can now empower ourselves to utilize the sun’s bountiful energy to persevere.