Solar panels on the farm

Solar energy is often viewed as a new, innovative technology, but the truth is, it has been utilized by humans for thousands of years.

Although it was once a niche within the market, solar energy is now the future. Whether you are interested in conservation or want to save money, solar power is for everyone.

Considering approximately 75 million barrels of oil could be saved annually through the use of solar energy, the savings are hard to ignore. Consumers are beginning to take notice — and this is just the beginning. Residents and businesses across the globe are making the switch. Here are three reasons why.

1. The Demand Is Already Significantly Increasing

Solar energy is currently one of the highest growing sectors within the United States and for good reason. In 2013, the demand for solar power has increased by an incredible 41 percent across the nation, with residential projects jumping a whopping 60 percent over the year prior.

In fact, in 2013, the number of photovoltaic panels that were installed provided enough power for more than 3.5 million homes — not to mention the use of solar power across major corporations. Companies such as Apple continue to invest in solar energy because they have witnessed first-hand its capabilities in terms of performance and cost.

2. It Is Renewable and Environmentally Friendly

As the world becomes more mindful of the environment, consumers and businesses are taking the initiative required to reduce their carbon footprint. By investing in solar energy, you can be a part of something greater and help offset CO2 emissions by eliminating the use of non-clean energy sources like coal.

To put this into perspective, the average solar-energy system (approximately 7.5 kW within the state of Colorado) generates power for 25-plus years that will offset 120 tons of CO2. This is, equivalent to planting over 1,250 trees or recycling 40 tons of waste.

Because it is 100 percent sustainable and comes from an inexhaustible energy source, solar energy is a long-term solution to our growing power needs. Unlike coal and natural gas, which are limited in supply, the sun’s consistent energy can be converted into heat, electricity, water, and even air conditioning, providing a reliable source, for industry, homes, and businesses.

3. It Is Low Maintenance and Cost-Effective

Electricity prices have continued to steadily rise, making consumers warm to the idea of solar power. Based on the increased demand, more solar panels are being produced, reducing the cost significantly in the past decade or so. Also, with no moving parts, there is very little maintenance involved once installation is complete.

Best of all, for those who invest in solar energy, the federal government will provide a solar tax credit. Allowing consumers to deduct 30 percent of the installation cost from their federal taxes, this financial benefit applies to both commercial and residential solar systems. There are also additional incentives and rebates available, making solar energy an attractive choice for communities across the globe.

The sun is like one big battery for us all to share. It provides the energy of the people. With so many reasons to say ‘yes’ to this renewable source of power, it’s clear that the future is certainly bright.

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Image of two engineers revising a photovoltaic farm (ISO 100). All my images have been processed in 16 Bits and transfer down to 8 before uploading.

Free electricity sounds great, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, solar power has been around much longer than you may think. And with time and technology, 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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Row of blue solar panels on orange roof. Group of blue solar collectors with orange roof tiles. It’s a photo of my own roof in the netherlands. In my country there is a enough sun to make electricity. The equipment stands on a steep flat roof with orange roof tiles. The panels have the same beautiful blue color as the sky. from the attic level you can view the street with trees on the ground.

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 nine percent from the prior year. In June alone, 13.5 gigawatts were added, representing more than 55 percent 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.
Stay tuned to Golden Solar for more industry news, tips, and trends.
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The average American contributes an estimated 17 to 21.5 metric tons (around 40,000 pounds) of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions each year. This amount is known as the “carbon footprint.” Reducing your carbon footprint not only minimizes your personal contribution to climate change, doing so usually saves you money as well. You can estimate your own carbon footprint with the use of online calculators that account for location, type of housing and activities such as home heating and recycling. Minimize this footprint by taking some or all of the following steps around your home:
  • Insulate your home. Seal air leaks and reduce drafts with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping around doors and windows.
  • Appliances. Replace old appliances such as furnaces, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, water heaters and refrigerators with energy efficient models. The ENERGY STAR label indicates products certified to have superior efficiency.
  • Lighting. When you leave a room, turn off lights. Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient lighting, such as LED bulbs, which use up to 80 percent less energy and last longer.
  • Thermostat. Install a programmable thermostat that will turn off heating or air conditioning when you are not home.
  • Laundry. Wash clothes in cold water and line dry outside in warmer months.
  • Hot water. Insulate your water heater for more efficient operation. Lower its temperature a few degrees also. Take shorter showers at lower temperatures.
  • Recycle. You could save 582 pounds of carbon dioxide annually by recycling your household’s glass, aluminum, plastic, and paper, according to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s the equivalent carbon dioxide that would be emitted by more than 600 miles of driving.
  • Solar. Install solar panels on your roof. Photovoltaic panels capture the free, clean and renewable energy from the sun and convert that energy to electricity. Many providers offer financing options, several states provide incentives for installation, and if you live in a state with a Net Metering law, you could possibly eliminate your electricity bill and potentially earn money from selling excess electricity back to your local power company. If all of the electricity used by the average American home is generated through solar power instead of conventional fossil fuels, that home would emit 6.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide less each year.
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