Posts tagged solar power

How a #Solar #Photovoltaic Cell is Created

According to the study, covering 4% of the Himalaya’s high potential region with solar panels, which is approximately 12,000 square kilometers (7,460 square miles) could generate all of China’s electricity. China consumes the most energy worldwide. It consumed 4,190 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2010. The United States consumed 3,741 TWh that year.

Source: Clean Technica (

#Solar power showing greater mainstream potential - Chicago Sun-Times

NEW YORK — Solar energy may finally get its day in the sun.

The high costs that for years made it impractical as a mainstream source of energy are plummeting. Real estate companies are racing to install solar panels on office buildings. Utilities are erecting large solar panel “farms” near big cities and in desolate deserts. And creative financing plans are making solar more realistic than ever for homes.

Solar power installations doubled in the United States last year and are expected to double again this year. More solar energy is being planned than any other power source, including nuclear, coal, natural gas and wind.

“We are at the beginning of a turning point,” says Andrew Beebe, who runs global sales for Suntech Power, a manufacturer of solar panels.

Solar’s share of the power business remains tiny. But its promise is great. The sun splashes more clean energy on the planet in one hour than humans use in a year, and daytime is when power is needed most. And solar panels can be installed near where people use power, reducing or eliminating the costs of moving power through a grid.

Solar power has been held back by costs. It’s still about three times more expensive than electricity produced by natural gas, according to estimates by the Energy Information Administration.

But the financial barriers are falling fast. Solar panel prices have plunged by two-thirds since 2008, making it easier for installers to market solar’s financial benefits, and not simply its environmental ones. Homeowners who want to go solar can do so for free and pay the same or less for their power.

Last month two of the nation’s biggest utilities, Exelon and NextEra Energy, each acquired a large California solar power farm in the early stages of development. Another utility, NRG Energy, has announced a plan with Bank of America and the real estate firm Prologis to spend $1.4 billion to install solar systems on 750 commercial rooftops.

Nationwide, solar power installations grew by 102 percent from 2009 to 2010, by far the fastest rate in the past five years.

“Every manufacturer globally is looking around for the next major growth market, and the U.S. is the first one everyone points to,” says Shayle Kann, managing director for solar research at GTM Research.

Making solar affordable still requires large tax breaks and other subsidies from federal and state governments. The main federal subsidy pays for 30 percent of the cost of a residential system. When state and other subsidies are added, as much as 75 percent of the cost can be covered.

But prices of solar panels, the squares of crystalline silicon or thin layers of metal films that turn the sun’s rays into electricity, are falling so fast that its advocates now credibly claim that solar will be able to compete with fossil fuels even when the federal solar subsidy shrinks by two-thirds in 2016.

“Over the past 10 years the industry has made the case that we needed to increase scale so we could reduce prices,” says Arno Harris, CEO of solar developer Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Sharp Corp. “We’re seeing it happen.”

The falling prices have made it easier for solar installers to raise the money needed to grow. And they’ve made solar power systems so affordable they can appeal to homeowners who want to save on their electric bill, not just reduce their environmental impact.

Tim Johnson, a high school math teacher in Philadelphia, had wanted to put solar panels on his roof for years. Like many people concerned about the environment, the thought of powering his home without burning fossil fuels had a strong appeal. But with two kids in college, he couldn’t justify spending $15,000, after subsidies, to do it.

But since March, he has generated 50 percent to 75 percent of his electricity with a set of solar panels on his roof, saving 20 percent on his electricity bills. His upfront cost for the system: $0.

Instead of buying and installing the panels himself, he signed up with SunRun, one of a handful of companies that build, own and maintain solar systems on homes. These companies earn money by charging customers for the power the panels produce.

Johnson pays SunRun $52 a month, and he pays his traditional utility for whatever extra power he needs from the grid. In all, he pays $60 to $100 a month for power; he used to pay $90 to $120.

SunRun can charge Johnson a competitive rate because federal and state subsidies pay for a portion of the installation. Also, the arrangement allows SunRun to take advantage of one of solar’s big advantages. Because it is generated near where it is needed, it doesn’t have to pass through hundreds of miles of wires, transformers and other equipment. The power price SunRun has to beat in order to entice customers like Johnson is an expensive retail rate, bloated with transmission and distribution charges that home solar doesn’t incur.

It would be cheaper over the long run for a homeowner to buy and install a solar system because he would not have to pay a company like SunRun for financing, service and maintenance. But these plans have growing appeal because they don’t require homeowners to lay out thousands of dollars up front.

In California, which leads the nation in solar power installations, 51 percent of the residential solar systems installed through the first three quarters of this year were sold with these plans, up from 12 percent in 2009.

SunRun and competitors such as SolarCity and Sungevity are expanding into more states, including Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Last month, Google announced it would create a fund that local installers in every state can tap so they too can offer no-money-down plans.

Some installers are teaming up with big hardware chains Home Depot and Lowe’s in an effort to expose solar to customers who might not otherwise consider it.

“Awareness is still one of our biggest problems,” says Lynn Jurich, co-founder and president of SunRun, which has a partnership with Home Depot.

Solar panel prices have been declining for years because of lower costs for polycrystalline silicon, the main raw material for most solar panels, and larger-scale manufacturing, especially in Asia. In the last six months, demand has dropped sharply in Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, in response to shrinking subsidies. This has created a global glut of solar panels and accelerated the decline in prices.

Solar panels, which are priced based on the amount of power they can produce during full sunshine, sold for $1.34 per watt in mid-September, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s down from $1.90 at the beginning of 2010. In 2008, they sold for $4 a watt.

The glut has been gut-wrenching for companies that make solar panels. Many of them remain profitable and are growing. But three U.S. panel makers have filed for bankruptcy in two months, including Solyndra, a solar panel maker that received a $528 million federal loan.

Falling profit margins are scaring investors. The stock price of First Solar Inc. has fallen from $170 in April to $53.77. Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. has fallen from $11 to $2.07 over the same period.

The Solyndra bankruptcy has sparked a political uproar. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of pushing for Solyndra’s loan for political reasons and have used the bankruptcy to question Obama’s plan to help boost the economy by subsidizing clean energy projects.

The market will not get any easier for small solar panel makers. General Electric Co., Samsung and other big companies are entering the market. This should increase supply and bring down costs even further. GE announced this month that it would build the largest panel factory in the U.S., near Denver.

But what has been treacherous for solar panel makers has been a boon for companies that market and install solar systems, for companies that make electronics and other parts for solar systems, and for solar customers.

To be sure, solar is growing from a very small base. All of the panels now installed across the nation produce enough electricity to power 600,000 homes, or about as much electricity as one large coal-fired power plant.

There are 30,000 megawatts’ worth of solar projects awaiting approval in the U.S., according to the American Public Power Association. Not all of them will be built, either because of regulatory or financial hurdles. But even if only half that is ultimately built, it would be five times what is already installed.

“We’re going in the direction the planet and the industry needs to go,” says Harris.


Also check out: Solar Panels Endanger Firefighters and Solar Bottles

Fears #solar panels endanger firefighters spark probe | Herald Sun

CONCERNS that solar panels could cause injury and death to firefighters during blazes have sparked an investigation by a peak firefighting body.

The Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council has launched an investigation into the alternative energy source’s safety after firefighters claimed homes fitted with panels could remain live with electricity after mains power had been switched off.

AFAC’s Paul Considine said the booming popularity of solar power meant risks had to be tackled.

"It’s a relatively new technology and as a result we want to consider the potential risks for firefighters," he said.

"The voltage is sometimes fairly significant in (the panels) and there are circumstances in which firefighters have to go on to the roof to fight the fire."

Matt Wilson, of solar installer EnviroGroup, said Victorians should make sure they used only an accredited solar-panel technician.

He said state law required the use of an isolation switch for solar panels that could control flow during a fire.

"In this industry now, you won’t be able to claim any rebates unless you use an accredited installer," he said.

Isolated panels can still pose a threat during a fire, but are less dangerous than the mains power cable entering the porperty, Mr Wilson said.

Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters Union of Victoria said the risk posed by solar panels had been a growing concern in recent years.

AFAC’s investigation is expected to conclude mid next year.

Also check out: Solar Bottles and Solar Steam Pumps Oil

#Solar Bottles - #Solar Light

Also check out: Solar Steam Helps Pump Oil, Hickory Ridge Landfill, and kW and kWh Explained

Tapping the sun’s power is seen as an energy source of the future, but in Coalinga it’s being used for a more traditional energy source — giant mirrors are helping to pump oil out of the ground.

"It basically works by reflecting the suns energy from this field of mirrors up to a receiver on top of the 330 foot tower," said Jerry Lomax with Chevron.

There’s a boiler full of water in the tower that is heated to 500-degrees. The water is turned into hissing steam which then shoots down pipes and into the surrounding oil wells on the ground.

Jerry Lomax of Chevron explains, “Here in Coalinga we have an oil field that’s more than 100 years old and it’s made up of oil that is called heavy so its real thick, syrupy type oil.”

The steam makes that syrupy gunk flow and Lomax says it gets more life out of old oil fields. “It allows us to produce a lot more domestic oil in California that we wouldn’t otherwise get out of the ground.”

Using steam to extract oil isn’t a new process. In many old oil fields the steam is generated in boilers fueled by natural gas, but natural gas is not always available.

"There are parts of the world where there is no natural gas infrastructure so the ability to use the sun to produce steam to get more oil out makes a whole lot of economic sense."

With nearly 8,000 mirrors on 100 acres, this is the largest solar steam facility in the world — a joint venture of Chevron and BrightSource Solar.

It looked like whole town of Coalinga turned out for a tour and 5th grader Jaden Johnson had a question.

"Is it true right now that if a bird flies through that right now it will catch on fire?"

The Chevron engineer conducting the tour answered: “Yeah, if a bird were to fly through that it would catch on fire.”

But, fried birds aside Jared said, “I think it’s pretty amazing.”

One thing this projects suggests is that even big oil companies are looking to save on energy costs.

(Copyright ©2011 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Also check out: Hickory Ridge Landfill and kW and kWh Explained

Hickory Ridge Landfill - #Atlanta, GA #Solar

ATLANTA, 4 October 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE: RSG) today cemented its leadership in landfill energy production with the dedication of a solar energy cover on its closed Hickory Ridge landfill near Atlanta. The innovative flexible solar cover technology that increases renewable energy output at landfills will generate 1 megawatt (MW) of electricity and meet the needs of 224 homes. The 45-acre closure system, which includes 10 acres of solar panels, is the world’s largest landfill solar energy cap and can be seen from planes using the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

As one of the largest solar projects in Georgia so far and only the third application of this solar landfill technology in the country, Hickory Ridge becomes the state’s first landfill solar farm, transforming a closed landfill into a commercial scale, solar energy-generating facility. The cover, a Spectro PowerCap™ made by Carlisle Energy Services (CES), is a new dual-purpose landfill closure system that allows a landfill owner to close a landfill and also generate renewable electrical power.

"This is a technologically advanced solution that is actually very simple at its core," said Bob Boucher, senior vice president, operations for Republic. "Given the choice of covering the site with clay and soil, or flexible solar panels, we made the choice that not only caps the landfill with an environmentally safe technology but also produces enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 224 homes."

The roughly $5 million investment by Republic is being offset by a $2 million grant of federal stimulus money awarded through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). Georgia received $82.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for state energy-efficiency and renewable energy programs.

"GEFA encourages renewable energy in Georgia by funding solar projects such as Hickory Ridge. In addition to funding, we provide technical assistance to state agencies, local governments and private sector companies in developing innovative energy resources," said Kevin Clark, executive director, GEFA.

Carlisle’s Spectro PowerCap is a dual-purpose landfill closure system that meets regulatory requirements as an alternative closure system and provides clean renewable energy. The system features Carlisle’s three-ply, scrim-reinforced GeoTPO Geomembrane that serves as both the closure system and platform for integrated solar photovoltaics. GeoTPO was developed exclusively for Exposed Geomembrane Solar Cap (EGSC) or Exposed Geomembrane Cap (EGC) applications as both a long-term and final landfill closure solution.

"Our Spectro PowerCap installation at Republic’s Hickory Ridge is a remarkable achievement for the entire team. It confirms our system is viable for large scale solar electricity generation and in meeting state regulatory requirements for landfill closure," said Arthur Mohr Jr, director, Landfill Solutions at Carlisle Energy Services.

The Hickory Ridge landfill solar energy cover uses nearly 7,000 solar panels to generate more than 1 million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity annually. The solar panel area is located on the landfill’s south slope and covers approximately 10 acres of the 45-acre site. The solar array is configured to allow access to landfill utilities such as landfill gas collection wells, while also incorporating cost- effective wiring and efficient electrical operations. The entire array of panels and their accompanying infrastructure are installed on the exposed geomembrane to produce year-round renewable electricity during the 30-year post closure long-term care period and beyond.

The new solar cover will be complemented by a soon-to-be installed landfill gas-to-energy project.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are about 100,000 closed landfills in the United States, which could potentially represent hundreds of thousands of acres of property that could be used for renewable energy development. Many of these landfills are close to urban areas and have infrastructure in place to deliver solar and other forms of alternative energy economically.

About Republic Services

Republic Services, Inc. provides recycling and solid waste collection, transfer and disposal services in the United States and Puerto Rico. The Company’s various operating units, including collection companies, transfer stations, recycling centers and landfills, are focused on providing reliable environmental services and solutions for commercial, industrial, municipal and residential customers. For more information, visit the Republic Services website at

About the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority

GEFA provides energy, land and water resources resulting in an improved quality of life for today and future generations. GEFA is the lead agency for state energy programs and is home to the Center of Innovation for Energy; directs the Georgia Land Conservation Program and maintains state-owned fuel storage tanks; and offers financing for reservoir and water supply, water quality, storm water and solid waste infrastructure. Since 1985, GEFA has approved financial commitments totaling more than $3 billion to local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

About Carlisle Energy Services (CES)

CES, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carlisle Construction Materials Incorporated, and is a leading provider of exposed, single-ply geomembrane closure systems and solar energy solutions for the solid waste and related industries. Carlisle Energy Services’ next-generation Spectro PowerCap™ Exposed Geomembrane Solar Cap is an industry-leading landfill closure system that generates renewable energy from integrated solar photovoltaic technology. At a comparable cost to a traditional landfill cap, the Spectro PowerCap provides superior environmental protection with years of clean, renewable solar electricity. For more information, visit Carlisle Energy’s website at

Also check out: Latin America’s First Soccer Stadium and Haiti Solar Lights

kW and kWh Explained - Understand & Convert Between Power and Energy - #Solar

kW and kWh Explained

A lot of people, energy professionals included, don’t fully understand the difference between kW and kWh. If you are one of them, fear not, this article should set you straight!

Energy calculations, and energy saving, become much easier when you understand the difference between a kW and a kWh.

If you’re working with energy on a regular basis, and you don’t fully understand the difference between a kW and a kWh, we promise you that taking 20 minutes or so to fully understand the concepts explained in this article will save you many headaches in the future. Quite likely it will save you some embarrassment at some point too, as you’ll be much less likely to make embarrassing calculation errors.

(If at any point you’d like to thank us for our help in reducing headaches and embarrassment, please point your colleagues and website visitors towards this article so that it can help them too. Or, if you find it useful, you could buy or recommend our Energy Lens software - we really appreciate the customers that keep us in business.)

Anyway, that’s more than enough preamble… Let’s get to it…

What is the difference between a kW and a kWh?

Well, the difference is really very simple. Though it only seems simple after you understand it.

kWh is a measure of energy, whilst kW is a measure of power…

OK, but a lot of people don’t really understand the difference between energy and power either… So let’s start at the beginning:

What is energy?

Energy is a measure of how much fuel is contained within something, or used by something over a specific period of time.

The kWh is a unit of energy.

(A physicist might throw their arms up in disgust at how we’ve over-simplified one of the fundamentals of the universe. But fortunately we’re not writing this for physicists…)

The kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy… The calorie is a unit of energy… And the joule (J) is a unit of energy… And these aren’t the only units of energy - there’s the BTU, the watt hour (Wh), the therm, and plenty of obscure units that you’re unlikely to have heard of.

It’s a bit like how you can measure distance in units of feet, metres, miles, km and so on. The distance between New York and London is fixed, but you can express that distance as 3,459 miles, or 5,567 km, or 18,265,315 feet etc. Similarly, you can express a measure of energy in joules, or calories, or kWh, or BTU etc.

When people talk about a particular biscuit containing 172 calories, they’re talking about the amount of energy contained within that biscuit. 172 calories is equivalent to around 0.0002 kWh.

Energy can change form. We could eat the biscuit to provide us with energy. Or we could burn the biscuit and turn it into heat energy. Given the right equipment we could turn the heat energy from the burning biscuit into electrical energy to run lights and fans and so on. Some energy would be wasted in the conversion process, but it should be possible to get that burning biscuit to run a light bulb for a few seconds.

Probably the best option would be to eat the biscuit, but hopefully you get the general idea - the biscuit contains energy that can be converted into different forms…

Electricity and other fuels supply energy in a form that we can use to run the equipment in our buildings.

Our biscuits contain a certain amount of energy - 172 calories or 0.0002 kWh per biscuit. But biscuit energy is not in a form that we can easily use to run the equipment in our buildings…

However, we can easily make use of electricity. And, provided we’ve got a gas or oil burner, we can easily make use of gas or oil. One form of energy comes through wires (isn’t electricity clever?!), and others come as gases, liquids, or solids that we burn (to turn into heat). At the end of the day it’s all just usable energy in different forms. We can express quantities of these forms of energy in terms of kWh. We buy or generate the kWh of energy, and we use it to fuel the equipment in our buildings.

The relationship between energy consumption (kWh) and time

A typical building uses more energy over long periods of time than it does over short periods of time:

  • On February 16th 2010 a building might have used 95 kWh.
  • Over the week starting April 12th 2010 it might have used 550 kWh.
  • From January 1st 2009 to December 31st 2009 it might have used 31,250 kWh.

Given the three figures above, we can easily see that the building used more energy over the course of 2009 than it did on February 16th 2010. No surprises there.

However, we can’t immediately compare the efficiency of the building over each of those periods. If a kWh figure covers a day, we can only compare it fairly with other kWh figures that cover a day. If a kWh figure covers a week, we can only fairly compare it with other kWh figures that cover a week.

If we have the kWh from February and the kWh from March, we can’t really compare the two figures fairly, because February is typically 28 days long, whilst March is 31 days long. This article explains more about the problems that arise if you compare the kWh used in one month with the kWh used in the next.

Energy consumption expressed in terms of kWh doesn’t often mean much unless you also know the length of the period that the kWh were measured over. And it’s difficult to make fair comparisons between kWh figures unless they are all from periods of exactly the same length. Figures expressed in terms of power (e.g. kW) make many things more straightforward…

What is power?

Power is the rate at which energy is generated or used.

The kW is a unit of power.

(Strictly speaking energy isn’t actually generated or used, it’s converted from one form into another. Like how the energy stored in oil is converted into heat when you burn it. And like how the electricity that runs a fan is converted into the motion of the fan blade (kinetic energy). But this is a distinction that people generally don’t worry about when they’re staring at an excessive energy bill and wondering how they can “use” less energy.)

So power is a measure of how fast something is generating or using energy. The higher a building’s kW, the faster that building is using energy.

Joules per second (J/s) is a nice, clear unit of power. Joules per second makes it obvious that power is the rate at which energy is being generated or used. It’s like how miles per hour makes it obvious that speed is the rate at which distance is being travelled.

James Watt

James Watt

The watt (W) is another unit of power. It doesn’t make it quite so obvious what power means. But the watt is actually just another name for Joules per second. J/s and W are the same thing. Just some bright spark decided that equations and whatnot would be simpler if power had its own unit (instead of being expressed using units of energy and time together). And they named this unit after James Watt, the Scottish inventor who had an important hand in the development of the steam engine.

So, joules per second (J/s) is a measure of power… The watt (W) is a measure of power… And the kilowatt (kW) is a measure of power too (one kW being 1000 watts).

Things that “generate power”

Items of equipment like boilers, electricity generators, and wind turbines, take energy in one form (e.g. gas or oil or wind) and turn it into another (e.g. heat or electricity).

There’s a limit to how much useful stuff these things can generate, and that is expressed as the rate at which they can generate energy. Which is, by definition, their power.

Consider a 10 kW wind turbine… Provided it has the optimum level of wind (which probably doesn’t happen nearly as often as its owner would like), it can generate 10 kW of power.

How long does it take to generate 10 kW…? Bzzz! No! Wrong question! That’s a question that would only be asked by somebody that didn’t understand what power was. It’s a bit like asking “how long does it take to travel 10 miles per hour?” It makes no sense.

10 kW is the rate at which the wind turbine can generate energy, not the amount of energy that it can generate in a certain period of time. The two are closely connected, but we’ll get to that shortly.

Things that “use power”

Items of electrical equipment like light bulbs, computers, and fans, take energy in the form of electricity, and use it to do useful things for us. Really they’re converting the energy into other forms (heat, motion etc.), but we say that they’re “using” it because we don’t really care about what exactly is happening to it, we just want our equipment to work when we switch it on and stop when we switch it off.

The rate at which these things use energy is their power. Or, depending on the thing, and the person you’re talking to, you might hear it called their “load” or their “demand”, or you might just hear it referred to in terms of a W or kW value.

Light bulbs are a simple example: if you have a 100 W light bulb you know that it will use 100 W of power when it’s running (100 W of power being the same as 0.1 kW of power). The watts aren’t affected by how long the 100 W light bulb is running for… A second, an hour, a day - no difference - so long as it’s switched on it will be using 100 W of power. If it’s not switched on it won’t be using any power (i.e. 0 W).

Some equipment is more complicated. Consider a laptop: at any one instant it might be using 50 W of power, or 30 W of power, or 43 W of power, or any similar such value. It depends on what it’s doing - if it’s sitting there doing nothing it’ll probably use less power than if you’re hammering away on an Excel spreadsheet, listening to some music, and burning a DVD, all at the same time.

Read more:

Also check out: Solar Street Lights and Solar Powered Split-Bathhouses Provide Sanitation for 700 Children

#Google: Rent your #solar panels from us | Green Tech - CNET News

By: Candace Lombardi September 28, 2011 10:55 AM PDT

This home in Santa Clarita, Calif., sports a 4.14-kilowatt solar system owned by Google and put in place by American Vision Solar, an installer affiliated with Clean Power Finance.

This home in Santa Clarita, Calif., sports a 4.14-kilowatt solar system owned by Google and put in place by American Vision Solar, an installer affiliated with Clean Power Finance.

(Credit: American Vision Solar)

Google has created a $75 million fund with Clean Power Finance, a company that offers financing for residential solar panel installations.

The investment will enable 10,000 homeowners to install solar panels on their homes.

The upfront cost is the largest obstacle to installing residential solar panels, and solar installation companies don’t always have the means to offer financing. Clean Power Finance seeks to overcome that hurdle by offering installers a way to provide financing to potential customers, while also giving companies without ties to the solar community a way to invest in the industry.

Google, the investor in this case, will technically own the solar panels, while the maintenance and upkeep responsibility of the solar panels stays with the installer and Clean Power Finance. The homeowners, who are essentially giving roof space in exchange for a chance to buy solar-generated electricity, will pay a monthly fee. Google’s return on investment comes via the electricity that is generated by the solar panels and sold to customers.

The big advantage of residential solar to the community at large is consumption at the source. Because much of solar electricity is consumed close to where it’s generated, residential solar panels reduce the inevitable waste in electricity and money that happens when current must be transported via transmission lines from distant power plants.

"It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid," Rick Needham, Google’s director of green business operations, pointed out in the company’s green blog.

A solar proponent for quite some time, Google made headlines in 2007 when it installed 1.6 megawatts worth of solar panels at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Google proudly touted at the time that within four days its panels had generated enough electricity to power 251,073 hours of television viewing. Google has also been developing its own solar technology, and it’s an investor in solar companies eSolar and BrightSource. Google has invested a total of $850 million in clean-energy related projects.

Read more:
Also check out: Solar Panel Price Dip and Hacking Together Rural Internet

#Solar Haters

As unbelievable as this may sound, there are people that do not like solar energy in any form. They don’t like solar thermal mirror systems. They don’t like solar electric systems and (gasp!) they don’t like photovoltaic electric panels like the ones SkyPower installs on homes and businesses to make free electricity here in the Valley of the Sun.

How could anyone hate on our loveable and much needed panels? They probably don’t like puppies and kittens, either. Check the Internet. You’ll find them out there and the try to sound all scientific and proper with their arguments, but we’re here to tell you that they are full of crap! Yup, we said it. The solar haters are wrong and like a lot of misinformed and paid-for experts, they don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

That may be, but without knowledge, how can anyone know what to believe? Good question and one that we will set about to answer right here, right now.

The solar hating folks (I wanted to call them something else but my marketing department overruled me … LOL) base their claims in two separate areas: (1) Solar panels take more energy to make than they ever produce and are therefore a lefty, ecoidiotic thing to do and (2) Solar panels use more deadly chemicals than coal or oil and therefore we should keep using those things to make power. We all can guess who is behind claim #2, so let’s start there.

Modern solar panels are made in factories like cars, airplanes and frisbees. About the most energy intensive products in common use today are steel and golf clubs. It takes quite a bit of oomph to turn a pile of dirt into a Chevy or a Nine Iron … but even these industries don’t spend more than 2% of their efforts on energy. Look at their balance sheets and you’ll see what we mean. Most businesses spend a lot less than 1% on energy. This small fraction is one of the reasons that solar panels are not more widely adopted by business. We simply do not solve a big enough problem.

Solar panels have two places where this kind of energy intensive component is required … the aluminum frames and the silicon cells. Even if these two things made up 60% of the product, the energy make up for a solar panel would still be under 2%. Just for discussion, let’s say that it was as high as steel at 2%. A solar panel that costs $1,000 would then have $20 worth of power in it and that’s less than 3 months worth here in Arizona where power is cheap. Put a solar panel in the desert and the first quarter is payback and the next 50 years are free. Sounds good to us!

Dumb A** Reason #1 above is one of our favorites. Solar electric panels are made primarily from silicon. Anyone want to guess what silicon is? You know … look out the window and see the silicon. Silicon is sand! Silicon is glass. Silicon is everywhere, cheap and about as harmless as it gets. We let our kids play in it when they visit the beach. In case you forgot or need to explain it to one of these antiscience folks, here’s a photo of kids playing in solar panels before they go into production. Don’t know about you, but we have some of these pictures in our family albums and the kids have all grown up nicely, thank you very much.

Yes, it’s true that some fairly noxious stuff goes into solar panels in tiny amounts. You can find minute quantities of phosphorus and heavy metals and maybe even a little copper. New tech coming soon to a panel near you will include carbon nanotubes and some other equally common materials. After all, the more common the stuff, the cheaper the panel and that is what we are all trying to do. We’re not saying that you can eat a solar panel, but it’s more because the taste is nasty and eating sand was something we all learned to avoid a long time ago.

Remember this about getting into it with a solar hater, “when you argue with a fool, there are two!” If it does happen, here are a few simple facts to help end the debate the way we all know it should.

Original -

Also check out: Solar Panel Price Dip and Hacking Together Rural Internet

#Solar panel price dip = schools save big

Some California school districts will see multi-million-dollar savings thanks to solar power. CNN’s Casey Wian reports.

Also check out: Solar to Shine at 63rd Emmys and Military Deal to Double U.S.’s Rooftop Solar Installations

#Solar to Shine at the 63rd Emmys | Solar Feeds

As the stars walk down the red carpet for the 63rd Emmys at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles this Sunday, they’ll have to share the spotlight with a quickly rising star of the energy world, solar. Parts of the red carpet will be covered by a canopy of SolarWorld modules, which is part of Emmy producer Fox’s drive for sustainability at the event. Maybe the array will generate some additional power from all those stars passing under it.

“The solar is visible and installed where the stars get our of their cars and where the press and paparazzi are installed. It’s throughout that whole section,” said SolarWorld spokesperson Devon Cichoski, speaking onsite.

The prominent display of the solar array will probably give solar the most air and media time that photovoltaics have ever had. “Reliably drawing 12 to 13 million viewers, the awards show acts as a celebration of popular culture. In that light, this year’s show will present solar power as an energy option available to regular homeowners around the country and even the world,” according to a SolarWorld press release.

“The Emmys spotlight the tastes, trends and technologies which viewers nationwide are tuning into in their lives,” Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, said in the release. “This year’s show will mark the historical moment when solar power made its debut in American popular culture.” “It’s going in now and will be in place for around five days,” Cichoski said. The photovoltaic canopy is a temporary structure over the red carpet. “There are these pretty substantial metal scaffolding areas that surround the [red carpet],” she said.

During the period when it’s operating at the Nokia Theatre, the 50 kilowatt array will produce power for the theatre as well as to the grid. Cichoski could not say whether it would offset all the power used during the Emmys. “The calculations that the engineer gave us is it would produce the amount energy used by a family of four for about two months,” she said.

After the Emmys are over, the array will be taken down and donated to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, according to Cichoski. The solar panels will serve between 10 to 20 households after that.

The solar is being added in as part of Fox’s “Green it. Mean it.” campaign, which strives to make the event more sustainable. The carpet for the event itself is manufactured from recycled materials. And the event will feature energy-efficient lighting, and locally sourced and organically grown food, according to the release.

“It’s definitely the first time the Emmys have gone this green,” Cichoski said.

Also check out: Latin America’s First Soccer Stadium and Haiti Solar Lights

US #photovoltaics to power Australia’s first utility-scale #solar power farm | Electronics News

US photovoltaics to power Australias first utility-scale solar power farm

AUSTRALIA’s first utility-scale solar power project, the Greenough River Solar Farm, is now underway, but will use photovoltaic modules from the US.

The solar farm is scoped to be 10 times larger than any other operating solar project in the country. It is expected to be fully operational mid 2012.

Financially, WA power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services will each own 50 percent of the solar project. The WA state government will provide $20 million, including $10 million from the WA Royalties for Regions program.

All of the solar farm’s energy output will be purchased by the WA Water Corporation, for powering the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

Significantly, the 150, 000 advanced thin film photovoltaic modules at the core of the solar farm will be supplied by First Solar, who will also provide engineering, procurement and construction services, in addition to operations and maintenance support once the solar farm is operational.

First Solar is a US-based company, with manufacturing facilities in Germany, Malaysia and in Ohio, US. Electronics News understands no Australian photovoltaic  manufacturers will be involved in this project.

According to Verve Energy’s Peter Winner, the tendering process was open to the industry and market players.

“It was an open process. All the big boys took part, and First Solar came out better,” Winner said.

Spokesperson for First Solar, Peri Muddle, said the company was focused on building a team in Australia to pursue opportunities in what the firm viewed as a burgeoning market (especially given the region’s solar reception), and there would be the chance for local manufacturers and supply chain players to participate in future projects.

For GE Energy Financial Services, the project represents its first renewable energy investment in Australia.

Providing clean, affordable and sustainable energy to partially power the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, near the town of Binningup, the solar project is expected to create more than 50 construction jobs.

The project will produce energy during the day, and will displace 25,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 5,000 cars off the road.

Also check out: Navy to Spend $500M on Solar in Hawaii and Project Brightfield