Free electricity sounds great, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, solar power has been around much longer than you may think. And with time and technology, it has improved and is now becoming more popular because of its availability. In fact, last year solar power installments broke records by doubling over the previous year.
According to energy.gov, Since 2008, U.S. installations approximately 5.7 million American homes have received power from the 1.2 GW installations. Two years ago, Google launched their program – Project Sunroof – and researched the viability of solar panels. Their findings indicated more than 75% of US rooftops are viable for solar. And, in 2014, Forbes reported a savings of as much as $84 per month on your electric bill with the use of solar energy (not to mention reducing your household’s carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year).
Additionally, as solar and renewable energy has transformed and evolved, so has the price has gone down, as well as accessibility. Combine that with available tax credits and incentives, the leap to solar may not be as long and hard as you believe.
One great aspect of solar energy conversion is that it does not have to be a complete conversion. It can be installed on large or small scales so you have room to expand as you want. Testing the waters may be the thing to help you determine if you want to do a full conversion or not, but by most accounts, investing in solar energy for your home has increased the resale value of homes and returned the amount of the investment, plus the money saved on monthly power bills.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “solar energy in the United States is booming.” They report the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70 percent since 2010 and this has led to a very strong market in solar energy. In fact, solar has had an average annual growth rate of 68% over the past decade. Globally, solar power grew by 50% in 2016.
Decriers of climate change sometimes admonish solar on principle without considering the cost-savings. Solar is not just about energy efficiency or carbon footprints. It is also about the bottom line.
Considering the market growth in solar, new innovations and advances in technology, along with the exponential growth and transformation of solar power, this market is not likely to go anywhere. Rather, it is projected to evolve and expand.
Stay tuned to Golden Solar for more industry news and tips to go solar.
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Power outages in the Caribbean and North America often leave millions of people stranded in the dark. Extreme weather is playing a major role in the frequency of these outages. Hurricanes and ice storms, including poor grid infrastructure cause problems. People living outside urban areas are worst affected by poor grid performance.
The Caribbean region has a population of about 40 million living in approximately 7,000 islands. At least 28 countries are part of the regional bloc and they are dealing with the effects of climate change. The Caribbean is bearing the brunt through increased exposure to natural disasters.
Role of Alternative Power Sources
Most people in the Caribbean region rely on generators as an emergency power source. The units are available at an affordable price, thus enabling wider use. However, the cost of running the generators is significantly higher. For this reason, many households run the generators for brief periods in the morning and evening only.
Generators operate using various fuel sources, including liquid natural gas, gasoline or propane. This translates to an additional cost for households. The unavailability of fuel, particularly in lengthy outages can leave families in the dark. As a result, the utility of the equipment becomes limited to short-term power blackouts. On the other hand, entry-level units generate considerable noise and may require large storage space.
Benefits of Solar-plus Storage Systems
The popularity of residential solar PV systems is growing in the Caribbean and North America. Households are leveraging low-cost benefits and the availability of new financing models to reduce exposure to the increasing cost of electricity. New technology enables users to combine the solar PV asset with an on-site energy storage system.
The configuration allows the solar PV asset to act as a backup power system when the grid power is down. The battery storage system creates an island as the power generation transfers to the solar PV array. A protected loads panel regulates the PV power based on the household’s essential energy requirements. The panel’s load management role ensures optimal energy consumption, battery performance (state of charge) and solar PV power production.
Optimization creates a backup power source that is efficient and reliable. Unlike fuel-powered generators, solar-plus provides constant power. A residential energy storage system produces zero emission, noise and does not need maintenance or fuel.
These systems require minimal space in primary and secondary living settings. They can be installed indoors or outdoors. The form factor of newer, integrated lithium batteries is aesthetically pleasing than conventional lead-acid batteries.
The cost of batteries has depreciated in recent years, thus making residential energy storage systems a more attractive and practical power source for households. The systems come with lengthy warranties of up to 10 years, longer working life (20 years or more) and a tight form factor. The systems have a low failure rate and operating costs and the installation process is non-intrusive.
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The world’s largest consumer of electricity, China also has recently become the world’s biggest producer of photovoltaic cells for solar power. Recent strides are not without challenges, though, and the country remains far from being fossil-fuel free.
2017 Production Surges
In the first half of 2017, China’s solar industry produced 25.9 percent more solar panels than it had during the first half of 2017, for a total of 34 gigawatts this year versus 27 gigawatts during the same period in 2016, according to the China Photovoltaic Industry Association (CPIA).
Official data published by the National Energy Administration (NEA) shows that 24.4 gigawatts of solar panels were installed during the first six months of the year. This represents an annual increase of 9% from the prior year. In June alone, 13.5 gigawatts were added, representing more than 55% of the entire total for the first half of 2017.
Experts predict that China’s production capacity will reach 60 gigawatts in 2017; last year, capacity reached 48 gigawatts. The continued decrease in production costs — the average cost to manufacture a solar module is less than $0.12 per watt –contributes to the increased production. China’s increased production also results from strong local demand as well as from continued foreign demand, particularly from the United States.
Installed Solar Capacity and Curtailment of Solar Utilization
As of the end of June 2017, China had 101.82 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity. However, utilization rates are only at 85 percent on average. And though the national curtailment rate was 37 billion kilowatt-hours as of the end of the first half, representing a reduction of 4.5 percent from the same time the previous year, some regions of the country still show high curtailment solar rates. Underutilization especially is high in the northwestern provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu, whereas much as 30 percent of available solar power is failing to meet the grid.
China’s continued surge in solar energy panel production is threatened, though, by more than just problems with underutilization. An ongoing trade dispute with the United States and a petition to impose tariffs threaten to make the U.S. market hostile to Chinese solar energy products.
As solar energy continues to become more pervasive across society, being adopted on a wider scope at both the consumer and industrial levels, its uses and users expand by the day. In a convergence of cutting-edge solar technology and an innovative, boundary-pushing company, Google has recently announced its plans to power a new data center in the Netherlands exclusively with the electricity harnessed by a local Dutch solar farm.
By partnering with Eneco, a prominent energy provider in the Netherlands, Google will be using a clean, renewable source of unlimited energy for at least the coming decade. The new data center, housing thousands of servers to extend Google’s reach into the European marketplace, is innovative in every sense of the word, from the center’s physical design to its adoption of clean energy.
The Dutch data center is a part of the company’s commitment to drive its many different facets of operations exclusively on renewable energies by the end of 2017. To that end, Google is currently the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy, now reaching 2.6 gigawatts of total renewable power between wind and solar energy providers.
Google’s push for renewable energy, solar in particular, is also well-represented by one of the company’s most environmentally-minded ventures, Project Sunroof. With Project Sunroof, consumers, neighborhoods and municipalities can find the most effective and efficient places to place solar panels, optimizing the layout according to historical sunlight measures, average cloud cover and even roof angles. One of Project Sunroof’s newest features even allows users to see which homes and commercial buildings already have solar paneling in their area, also providing an estimate on energy savings if panels were added to an individual property.
At Golden Solar, we applaud innovative companies like Google for making a tangible effort to use renewable energy. Between their partnerships with solar energy providers throughout the world, much like their data center in the Netherlands, and applications like Project Sunroof, Google is setting a great example of what corporations can do to improve our environment with clean, cost effective solar energy. Building on our significant expertise in the solar industry, Golden Solar can provide the same clean, budget-friendly solar solutions for your residential or corporate energy needs.
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Who doesn’t want to contribute to a clean planet? Since the “Save the Planet” phase decades ago, the idea has morphed into a solid part of our global way of life. Solar panels on someone’s roof aren’t a novelty anymore; they have become everyday sightings.
Why Green Living?
So, are we really pulling off this “green living” thing? With the help of the solar panel industry, which is constantly innovating and improving, pulling energy from the sun to power our homes is not only possible but is becoming more commonplace and affordable.
The average household in the United States uses around 901 kilowatt hours of electricity per month, according to the US Energy Information Administration. We also use an average of about 400 gallons of water a day, some of it heated. If your home functions from a green point of view, installing at least some of the current technologies can make life so much easier.
Green Technology for the Home
Technology is a beautiful thing. Whether you’re into green living 1000 percent or you just want to dabble a bit here and there, there’s an array of technological devices available to help you make your home more eco-friendly.
Solar Panel Array. Today’s solar panels aren’t the monstrosities that haunted our rooftops in the 1970s. Modern solar panels are efficient and compact and can fit seamlessly into your home’s aesthetic.
Solar Hot Water Heater. A conventional water heater uses natural gas or electricity to heat the water for your morning shower. If you’re pulling power off the grid, that’s money down the drain. A solar hot water heater can use energy collected from your solar panels to heat the water you need.
Rain Barrels. Whether you’re growing flowers for decoration or food for the family table, you’re not growing much without watering. For outdoor water use, a rain barrel or two makes for a fantastic irrigation system that doesn’t cost you to refill.
Programmable Thermostat. Not only are programmable thermostats economically a good idea, they can make controlling your home’s internal temperature a stress-free affair. You can set it to control your home’s HVAC to the settings your family prefers. This can stretch your solar energy even further.
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