Energy independence, environmental impact, climate change mitigation, contingency plans in case of a power outage – these are all good reasons to have solar power installed in one’s home or business. But for the majority of people plugging into solar energy, the best reason remains a financial one. Does nothing ever change? Read the rest of this entry »
by Frank Sherman,
(reposted with permission from Alpine Green Solutions Blog)
2012 ends as a year of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the political landscape, uncertainty about climate change, and uncertainty about business have weighed heavily on our clients minds. At least the Mayan calendar did not end. What is certain is that 2013 looks to be a good year.
Energy plays a significant role as we look ahead to 2013. It fuels and impedes business success. It causes global climate change yet holds many of the solutions to this crisis. The politics of energy reflect the transformation that is happening throughout our economy. Old ways are dying and old industries and business practices are becoming relics relegated to the LA Brea Tar Pits of time. The more entrenched businesses and industries become, the more they sink into the past. Innovation, technology, and new economic models are creating the next generation of great businesses, and their approach to energy is critical to their success.
We look at 2013 as a year for performance and it reflects our optimism for all the business opportunity we see across the country. We sense this in conversations with our clients and our colleagues. Businesses are looking ahead and planning for long term growth and success. 2013 looks like it will be the year of the long play, where smart investments position businesses for future success. Here are a few trends to take advantage of in 2013.
Warming Slopes, Shriveled Revenues
Snow can be an entrancing sight or an exhausting burden, but for communities dependent on winter sports, it is one thing above all else: revenue.
In recent years, however, the cold cash that used to fall from the sky, giving an economic boost to 38 states, has become less reliable. Winters are getting warmer, less snow is falling, and snow seasons are starting later and ending earlier.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the climate-themed industry group Protect Our Winters takes a look at the possible impacts of climate change on the nation’s $12.2 billion snow sports industry and the 211,900 jobs it supports.
Read more at the NYTimes Green Blog
Solar Power Installation Prices Fell 14% in Past Year
The price of installing solar power for homeowners and businesses fell 11-14% in 2011 and in the first six months of 2012, new stats from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show. In the fist six months of this year, California saw even greater drops in the cost of installing solar panels, an additional 3-7% above the national figures.
The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size. Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.
Read more at TreeHugger
Where are the Green Jobs?
CleanEdison research indicates that nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy by the end of 2020.
When we look at job creation and industry growth in areas such as energy efficiency, solar energy, and smart grid technology, we see tremendous growth potential. We estimate that by the end of 2020, nearly 1 million people will be employed in these sectors and nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy as a whole.
As Seen in Bloomberg News
Vote Solar Initiative and IREC released the 2012 findings of Freeing the Grid, a policy report that grades all 50 states on two key programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together, these policies empower American energy consumers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs.
Freeing the Grid is produced by IREC and Vote Solar in partnership with the North Carolina Solar Center, which manages the DSIRE database. Its grading methodology was also adopted for use in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of going solar by 75% before the end of the decade.
If you look around the neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil from above, you may find a very interesting sight. Bottle tops poking out in the ceiling around the entire neighborhood. What are those bottles for?
In 2002, during an energy crisis and blackout, Alfredo Moser, an engineer in Brazil, discovered that he could escape from working in the dark by hanging water-filled bottles in the roof of his workshop. “On average, the bottles produce as much light as a 50 Watt incandescent bulb,” Electric Engineer Clivenor de Araujo Filho, says after he measured every bottle’s light intensity.
A solar bottle lamb is made by a 2-liter soda bottle with clean water, two lid-fulls of bleach and a camera film dispenser to protect the lid from the sun. The physics of the concept are straightforward: the bottles are placed in roofs – half outside, half inside – and their lower portions refract light like 60-Watt light bulb but without the need for a power source. A few drops of bleach serve to keep the water clear, clean and germ-free for years to come.
Once you’ve decided to implement solar energy alternatives at your residence or place of business, the next logical step is to choose a reliable solar installer. But how do you find the solar installer that’s right for you? Selecting any installer online or in the Yellow Pages isn’t always the smartest choice. Here are a few tips to find the best solar installers in your area:
- Look for the Right Credentials: A solar installer should be certified by the NABCEP, the most respected national standard certification program in the solar industry at the moment. There are two NABCEP certifications: an entry level and a full professional installer certification, so be sure to look for the latter. This will guarantee that your installer also has at least two years of hands-on experience in the field. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is always a good choice as well.
- Look for the Right Experience: If an installer doesn’t have the NABCEP certification, make sure they have several years of hands-on experience and come with good recommendations in-tow. Look for training experience as well; though you should keep in mind that many of the formal degree and training programs in the field are fairly new. Keep in mind that while traditional electricians are experienced with standard electrical systems, this does not mean they are capable of a full PV installation.
- Look Closely at Warranties/Compare Quotes: Explore the warranties surrounding the parts installers use. This will give you information about when you will need to replace parts and overall costs for the system. Remember that low prices may not always be the best choice in the long run, as you’ll want your system to last a long time in order to have the largest return on investment. Compare quotes from several different companies and use your intellect and instincts to determine which is the best fit for you!
In short, do your research and trust your instincts. If a company offers the lowest rates in town, make sure their service is up-to-par as well. Do you have any other tips for choosing a reliable solar installer? We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments!
Have you heard of Socrates’ Megaron House? This structure is an excellent example of an ancient structure that utilizes a passive solar design. (Passive solar uses sunlight efficiently to reduce energy demand, as opposed to using sunlight and heat to increase supply). Here a few tips anyone interested in passive solar one can learn from the great philosopher’s construction.
- Open towards a southern sight: A beautiful and natural southern site is aesthetically pleasing, and a southern orientation makes full use of the solar light and heat in the wintertime and protects the interior from hot sunlight during the summer months.
- Use architecture wisely: Using more narrow architecture towards the northern cold side and featuring storage spaces and stairs provides hot and cold protection for the predominant living areas.
- Use natural barriers: Barriers such as small hills protect the home from cold northeastern winds.
- Employ a Trombe wall: A large wall that is separated from nature by an air space and glazing, this wall soaks up solar energy and releases it selectively inside the dwelling at night using the heat from the winter sun. During warm months, the wall stays cold due to the protective terrace above it.
- Build in a way that allows air to circulate: This allows for comfortable temperatures year-round. Using building materials with favorable thermal masses increases the effectiveness of this type of design.
Sunlight has influenced building design since architecture itself developed, but advanced solar energy techniques were first employed by the Chinese and the Greeks, who constructed their buildings toward the south to take full advantage of the warmth and light the sun provides.
Is your home oriented towards the south? If so, have you seen a positive impact on your heating and cooling bills? Let us know how your home’s solar orientation has impacted you and your family. Comments are always welcome!
One of our stand-out experts and trainers in the solar energy field is Michael Cafiero, a qualified specialist with over 12 years of practical experience and several certifications, such as OSHA, NABCEP PV Installer, NABCEP Technical Sales, and more. Michael also leads Small Wind training camps and has installed solar hot air, wind turbines, and solar electric installations for residential and commercial sites throughout his career.
In a recent interview, Michael answered some of our pressing questions about his important role in the solar industry:
When asked why he chose to enter the solar industry, Michael answered that he wanted to be a part of clean, anti-pollution efforts and to protect the environment by making more sustainable choices. In this way, he strives to make solar more mainstream by showing how everyone has the ability to do his/her part and make “greener” decisions.
Michael often jokes about his devotion to the sun, and he always seems to be sunburned from doing activities outside. He believes that all energy comes from the sun; for example, without sun, there could be no wind power. The sun is always available for our use and is the most simple and accessible form of renewable energy. Once he realized this, he knew that promoting this type of energy was one of the most fulfilling actions he could take.
When asked where he sees the solar industry 20 years from now, Michael argues that it should grow tremendously, to the point where it could be seen everywhere from boats and automobiles to other electronics, and even windows, as there’s potential for solar energy to come in many different forms, sizes, and materials. As the government continues to add incentives for sustainable energies and more citizens become educated about how they can have a positive impact, it’s sure to become more popular each year.
Do you see the solar industry going the same places our instructor Mike Cafiero does? Let us know what you think! In the meantime, feel free to contact us for more information about our comprehensive solar training programs.
Cheap electricity actually exists! Solar industry experts are championing Solar PV as a cheaper way to generate electricity and governments, private companies, and non-profits are all jumping on-board with this cost effective energy source.
Solar PV uses solar cells, which are components of a solar panel, to convert sunlight into usable electricity. Solar PV systems, due to their renewable energy source, allow us to produce large amounts of electricity, cheaply and sustainably.
Solar technology is rapidly growing in the United States because it saves energy costs. Edwards Air Force Base in California is building three solar farms on base, a project that will save the military base hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Additionally, states and the federal government are investing in Solar because the industry is creating jobs and boosting U.S. competitiveness in alternative energy markets. In October 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $60 million investment for scientific research to advance cutting-edge solar technologies. This program, through the Department’s SunShot Initiative, is an effort to encourage widespread adoption of solar to help reduce the cost of solar energy systems by 75% and in-turn increase U.S. competitiveness in the global market for solar technologies. Furthermore, in November 2011 the U.S. Department of Energy reported a 6.8% growth rate in the solar industry and that over 100,000 workers are employed in the U.S. solar industry. Even better news is that these numbers are continuing to rise!
Don’t be dissuaded by the recent negative press surrounding the solar industry. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman reports that Solyndra’s failure ‘was actually caused by technological success.’ As the price of solar panels continued decrease, consumer demand increased, and Solyndra could not keep up with the competition. Similarly, Florida had to delay administering its solar energy rebates to its residents who purchased and installed solar energy technologies for their homes and businesses because public demand exceeded available state dollars. Launched in 2006, the program’s funding was depleted by 2009, due to widespread popularity. Residents and business owners are all looking to implement cost effective measures and are turning to solar to save money while helping our environment at the same time.
Coinciding with this latest solar buzz, CleanEdison is offering our Solar Series courses! Our Solar PV Bootcamp and Solar Thermal Bootcamp are a blended hands-on and classroom instruction courses covering Fundamentals, Sales & Marketing, Design and Installation. These are perfect courses for any solar professional, or soon to be solar professional, looking to start or expand their current business. At the end of this course, students will be eligible to take the exam to earn their NABCEP entry level certificate. Visit our website, www.cleanedison.com or call 646.723.4050 to find out more!