Solar Energy in the Midwest

Posts tagged ‘green’

Solar in Michigan – Does it work?

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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.

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The Coming Solar Electricity Transformation

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.

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Carbon Emmisions avoided by our solar PV installations.

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.

Solar Seminar & Open House

 
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

 

Postcode Lottery Green Challenge – Are you the one?

Postcode Lottery Green Challenge – Home.

The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge is the largest annual worldwide competition for sustainable entrepreneurs who can instigate change. The challenge is looking for products or services that combine sustainability, entrepreneurship and creativity.

 

The products or services should:

1. Reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by an amount you can roughly estimate

2. Be developed enough to execute

3. Be realisable as usable product or service within the next two years

4. Preferably have integrated Cradle2Cradle principles in their designs

Besides these criteria, the jury will also look at factors as: Communication potential, courageousness and creativity.

 

Entry for the seventh edition of this competition will be open from 17 April – 17 July 2013. Sign up for the newsletter and stay informed of the latest developments!

Belgium Plans to Build Island to Store Excess Wind Energy | Renewable Energy News Article

Belgium Plans to Build Island to Store Excess Wind Energy | Renewable Energy News Article. By Renewable Energy World Editors
January 21, 2013

Government officials are confident that the island will solve intermittency issues that commonly occur in renewable energy production, such as wind and solar. The island will use a pumped-hydro system to store excess wind energy generated during off-peak hours, which will then be used to help satisfy the demand during hours when the wind isn’t blowing….

….”We have a lot of energy from the windmills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn’t enough demand for the electricity,” said a spokeswoman for Belgium’s North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte to Reuters. Vande Lanotte revealed the plans last week during a presentation at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

For full article

New State Study Demonstrates Net Metering Benefit for Ratepayers | asavage

New State Study Demonstrates Net Metering Benefit for Ratepayers 

By Andrew Savage
January 21, 2013

The body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of solar net metering to retail electric customers continues to grow.

 

From California and Texas to New York and now Vermont, there is a growing stack of reports that make the financial case for greater deployment of distributed solar generation and net metering.

 

On the same day that a Vote Solar Initiative report was released, which found that in California solar net metering provides over $92 million in annual benefits to ratepayers, a newly published Vermont report echoed the same growing body of evidence that documents the benefits of solar net metering.

 

recent report on New York found that solar PV delivers between a 15-cent and 40-cent benefit to ratepayers and taxpayers.  Another report from Texas by the analysts at the The Brattle Group found that the total customer benefits of adding solar capacity in the Lone Star State was valued at more than $520 million.

The Vermont legislature charged the report author, the Vermont Department of Public Service, with determining if there is a cross-subsidization with… For full article go here

Solar Power as Solution for Storm-Darkened Homes – NYTimes.com

Solar Power as Solution for Storm-Darkened Homes – NYTimes.com.

Despite the popular perception that installing solar panels takes a home “off the grid,” most of those systems are actually part of it, sending excess power to the utility grid during the day and pulling electricity back to run the house at night. So when the storm took down power lines and substations across the Northeast, safety systems cut the power in solar homes just like everywhere else.

“Here’s a $70,000 system sitting idle,” said Ed Antonio, who lives in the Rockaways in Queens and has watched his 42 panels as well as those on several other houses in the area go unused since the power went out Oct. 29. “That’s a lot of power sitting. Just sitting.”

Go to full article

Go to NY Times videos of the storm.

For more information on Indoor Battery Generators go here

Hurricane Sandy Uncovers Strength and Simplicity of Renewable Energy Systems | Renewable Energy News Article

Hurricane Sandy Uncovers Strength and Simplicity of Renewable Energy Systems | Renewable Energy News Article.

By Elisa Wood, Contributor  November 1, 2012
Superstorm Sandy can’t kill wind and solar.

First of all, wind and solar do not need additional energy inputs to produce electricity or cool a reactor, said John Kourtoff, president and CEO of Toronto-based Trillium Power Wind. There is no need for natural gas, oil or coal to be excavated, transported and applied to the system. Instead, they produce electricity by taking advantage of a form of energy that is already available – wind and sun.

Second, they mimic nature in design, so they tend to be more resilient and withstand natural disasters better, he said.

“Renewables at their core are simple bio-mimicry based on nature. This simple and closed aspect makes them successful when storms and natural disasters happen, whether hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis,” Kourtoff said.

He pointed out that last year’s tsunami in Japan devastated a nuclear plant, but wind turbines near the shore suffered no harm.   For Full Article

PWIR: President Clinton Endorse Prop 3 | MLCV-Michigan League of Conservation Voters

PWIR: President Clinton Endorse Prop 3 | MLCV-Michigan League of Conservation Voters.Submitted by Michigan LCV on Mon, 10/29/2012 – 4:06pm

… Former President Clinton championed the cause because he knows that the jobs created by Prop 3 will help spur the kind of economic activity that defined his Presidency. On the opposite side of the debate, campaign finance reports show that Enbridge – yes, that Enbridge (the one whose faulty oil pipeline dumped more than 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River) – has joined the opposition to Prop 3. After all, why have more renewable energy in Michigan when we can have record-breaking oil spills into our rivers, instead? To read more go here

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