Solar Energy in the Midwest

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The most common phrase we hear on a daily basis is that solar is not a practical application in a wintery grey state. We disagree and so do thousands right here in SE Michigan.

We don’t get a lot of sunlight compared to other states here in Michigan but we get enough to cover all our needs, how much more do we need? In truth panels operate more efficiently in cool states than in hot states.

Some readers may immediately dismiss our perspective because we are a solar company and we survive by installing solar. Sounds simple but installing solar since 1985 has not been a walk in the park. We live and breathe solar not only because we believe in it but because we know it works. Decades of positive feedback and referrals from happy homeowners using clean, renewable solar energy is a positive place to be and we want to provide this opportunity to anyone who is interested in taking control of their energy generation.

Our first adapters were Michigan Engineers. They crunched the numbers (over and over in every possible scenario), put their money into solar and are happy with their return. All the non-Engineer homeowners have had the same experience.

In the last three years we have installed over 80 solar electric systems and collectively we have generated over 900 MWh of electricity. This is the equivalent of:

  • Planting 16,282 tree seedlings
  • Powering over 4 football stadiums for 1 year
  • Reducing 635 metric tons of CO2e from our atmosphere
  • The emissions from 71,188 gallons of gasoline
  • The emissions from 132 cars for a year

Many of these homeowners do not pay a monthly electric utility bill and some actually get a check back from the utility company at the end of the year. No one is unhappy with their system; in fact some are removing all gas appliances, installing geothermal and plugging new EV cars into their homes.

Imagine, these results have occurred in only in the last three years. If you could measure how many BTU’s we have generated with all our solar thermal systems; water heating, space heating and pool heating systems over the decades these numbers would be amazing.

It is only recently that we have been able to monitor and record all of our products true generation and most of them even have a mobile app to monitor remotely. Numbers like this are great because they provide measured metrics that can be compared to other fuel sources providing solid data that the skeptics have a much harder time arguing against.

Solar electric generation can now be monitored across the state, the country and the world demonstrating how solar functions in every climate in real time. Inverters that convert the DC electricity to AC, so it can be grid tied and provide a home with useable power, now send out wireless reporting of generation in real time from the home location to the manufacturers monitoring website.

Panel efficiencies are always improving as well as the wattage per panel. A 250W @18% efficiency panel of 2008 is now 335W @22% efficiency. Mind you, these are top of the line efficiency panels. There are still plenty of 14% and 15% efficient panels around, budget dictates the homeowners’ choices, but now there is choice. Some panel companies are aiming for 50% efficiency but we are not there yet.

With always rising utility bills, Michigan’s growing dependence on imported coal costing billions, asthma and other preventable illnesses, clean energy will become an application more and more will choose. It works in Michigan. How much was your electric bill five years ago? What do you think it will be in another five?

You don’t have to listen to us. Watch customers talk about their system on YouTube, unscripted and unrehearsed. Solar homeowners love talking about their systems, we like hearing it. My favorite are retire homeowners in Washington, MI and Livonia, MI. We recorded these for the National Solar Tour two years ago. The National Solar Tour is the first Saturday of October every year. 

The next time someone tells you solar does not work in Michigan, first ask them if they have a system… I’m betting NOT, and then ask them if they know someone who has one… ditto… and ask them where they got their information. I’m sure they have not crunched the numbers or talked to people using it daily. Most data the skeptics quote was from the 1970’s, which was accurate back then for PV (not solar thermal), but things have changed over almost four decades.

Even if our state does not adopt a higher renewable energy portfolio I am confident that there are enough people out there using solar today who talk and share their experiences, their utility bills and their mobile app details with their neighbors, friends and family, that solar will continue to grow right here in Michigan, because it does work. We don’t get much sun but we get enough.

by

Five years after Ohio’s renewable energy standard took effect – and a few months before it will be challenged again in the state legislature – an economist with the state’s utility regulator tried to assess how the law was working out.

Tim Benedict’s verdict: “We’re seeing more of the good than of the bad.”

More specifically, his study concludes that the addition of renewable sources of power is modestly pushing down the wholesale cost of power in the state, while also reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced.

According to Benedict’s calculations, the renewable generators now producing power have reduced the cost of wholesale power by about 0.15 percent. When his study looked at the projected power from all renewable projects that the state has approved, including those not yet operational, the figure is closer to 0.5 percent. Read more here.

Comment: We love what we are reading but just checked our Michigan bill and the renewable surcharge is still there. – Val

Interesting read about the evolution of solar and the influence of China in the global picture. Puts new light on Solyndra. Read Here.

 

 

 

Iamsolar:

Pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Originally posted on THE WMEAC BLOG:

Danger Lies Beneath the Straits

Sixty-year-old pipelines are currently carrying millions of gallons of oil beneath the Straits of Mackinac. These pipelines are in dire need of repair, and it’s time to say something about it. Let your voice be heard at the upcoming Oil and Water Don’t Mix rally!

Date: Sunday, July 14, 2013 Rain or Shine!

Time: 12 pm – 1:30 pm

Where: Bridge View Park just north of the Mackinac Bridge, St. Ignace, MI

Why: To prevent a spill from the aging oil pipelines running beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Bill McKibben

Activist Bill McKibben will be the keynote speaker at the rally.

What: Presentations by keynote speaker Bill McKibben, live music (Seth & May, Lake Effect, and more) as well as time to watch the Mackinac Sailboat race and have a picnic after the rally.

Who: Ordinary citizens as well as many organizations–350.org, National Wildlife Federation, Michigan…

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Iamsolar:

Impressive forth graders and their teacher!

Originally posted on green ice cream:

Crowdfunded solar-powered classroom leaves the grid

“Aaron Sebens and his class of fourth-graders from the Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina hit Kickstarter back in March to try and raise enough money for their classroom to go off-grid. A rather modest target of US$800 was smashed within a day by the kindness of the international community and, at campaign end, the kids found themselves with the handsome sum of $5,817 to spend on the purchase and installation of a roof-mounted solar energy harvesting system. A wind turbine was added to the shopping list, and just two months later, the 208ers threw a huge “Flip the Switch” party to celebrate leaving the grid. Sebens reports that the classroom has been running on renewables ever since.”

Read the full article on the Trillion Fund blog

View original

Originally posted on geoharvey:

World:

¶   Recent achievements in Sweden show how cities could adopt low-carbon initiatives. Three Swedish cities offer insights into how local government can approach low-carbon policies: through energy and electricity, public transport, and urban planning. [Business Spectator]

¶   The government of Pakistan, aiming to supply part of the national energy requirement through renewable energy technologies, plans to get up to 2,500 MW from wind energy by the end of 2015. The country had a capacity of 50 MW in December 2012. [The Nation]

¶   Genesis Energy has received consents for their Castle Hill wind farm, an 860 megawatt wind power project in New Zealand from the country’s Environment Court. New Zealand has set a target to generate over 90 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2025. [EcoSeed]

¶   The Shanghai Securities News reported that China is proposing restrictions to the solar panels exports to European Union to 10 gigawatts…

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The Coming Solar Electricity Transformation

John Farrell
June 11, 2013

Solar cells are unusual in that they were cost-competitive from the get-go. From the Apollo space program to highway signs to lighting for buoys, solar could replace highly expensive power from batteries or other sources and eliminate the need for the construction of electric distribution lines. 

When the Institute for Local Self-Reliance was founded in 1974, the first factory producing solar cells for terrestrial applications had just opened in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The cost of solar power was over $3.00 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), com- pared to $0.03 per kWh for grid electricity. The output from that factory the first year was sufficient to power only a few dozen homes. By the late 1980s, the price of solar was low enough that solar cells were finding their way to second homes and remote cabins off the grid. In 1990, the total installed capacity of solar was 200 megawatts (worldwide, with about 25 percent in the U.S.), sufficient to power 4,000 homes. During the ensuing decade, federal and later state incentives for solar ushered in the era of grid-connected solar. By 1999, grid connected solar projects exceeded non-grid application. Read more at Link.

Iamsolar:

Impressive. 40% renewable energy. I’d like to look into Iowa’s process and reasons for this direction as well as their electoral preferences, and utilities, to understand why we here in Michigan have such a resistance to clean renewable energy.

Originally posted on THE WMEAC BLOG:

MidAmerican Energy, Iowa’s largest utility company, has announced its plan for 40% renewable energy by 2015. Compared to Michigan’s goal for 10% renewables by 2015, Iowa has set a high standard, and forces Michigan policy makers to start thinking ahead. Iowa already receives about 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar power, much higher than Michigan’s goal.

“By doing this, we’re not only setting up our customers for the long term to have a strong supply of renewable energy, but we’re able to do it in a very competitive manner,” says President of MidAmerican Energy, William Fehrman.

Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs is encouraging policy makers to start taking action in the end phases of the current plan for 10 percent by 2015. Although an estimated $1.9 billion investment is needed to fund Iowa’s new energy plan, it’s expected to implement 656 wind turbines and create…

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Carbon Emmisions avoided by our solar PV installations.

The emissions data here is from the EPA eGrid site that reflects true carbon waste for our particular coal burning grid.

 
Earth Day Seminars and solar building tour 2013Earth Day Warm-Up Saturday April 13, 2013
Seminar 
 
Attend our Solar Energy Investment Seminar at the Summit on the Park, 46000 Summit Pkwy Canton, MI 48188

Free! 10am -12noon Registration required Call: (734) 453-6746 to book a seat.  Map

Learn how solar can be the best investment you will make.
Solar works in Michigan and is a practical application for you and your family.

After the seminar join us for a tour of our solar powered building.
See, feel and touch solar in action!

Tour
Our solar powered building.
Doors open 11am – 2pm
Free, Open to all
Ask questions

On the Tour

  • 5.1 kW grid tied solar electric (PV) system
  • 2 styles of solar space heating
  • Solar hot water
  • Solatubes with new designer lenses
  • Solar attic fan
  • New this year! An Indoor Battery back-up generator. Never go down with the grid again – works anywhere there is a plug. Add solar power to it and qualify for 30% Federal Tax Credit on the solar system.
  • Watch videos of local solar homeowners share their experience of living with solar. Some of these will be on the tour. Find out how many are getting negative utility bills and actually receiving checks from the utility companies.
  • Bring your utility bills and see how solar works for you.
  • 563 MWh of electricity generated by our installations since Jan 2010. That’s enough to power the Michigan Stadium for 2.5 years.
 

Sign up today and reserve your seat. (734) 453-6746

 

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